When approaching Castrojeriz one cannot escape noticing the dominant defensive position that the town occupies. The historic fortified town castrum on a steep-sided mesa forms a defensive island rising above the meseta daring any would-be invaders to test their luck against its defenses. Indeed, Castrojeriz has been fortified since Celtiberian times. Romans used it as a base from which to guard the road to the Galician gold mines and the Visigoths called the town Castrum Sigerici. We know that it anchored a defensive line (stretching from Rabe – Hornillos – Castrojeriz) and was the scene of much fighting in the 9th and 10th centuries, changing hands many times before being reconquered once and for all sometime around 912 AD. Thankfully now the only invaders are we Peregrinos!!
Immediately over the town is a fortified hilltop castillo that dates back from the 9th century and protects a flank of the town. Pre-Romans, Romans (legend has it that Julius Caesar or Pompey fortified the hill), Visigoths, Muslims and Christians all have occupied it even though what you see now is a castle rebuilt in the Middle Ages by the Condes de Castro. It is not part of the town but if you take the strenuous climb to investigate it you will see that from below the hill looks like a mountain. Upon closer inspection and looking downward you will realize that the hill and the surrounding mesas were once part of a level plain that has eroded over the centuries.
A look at a map of the town will show that the town, looking like a flexed arm, wraps itself protectively around the base of the hill where the fortified castillo is located. This is very clearly seen when you switch to the satellite view of the map. The layout of the town is one of straggling streets, much the way we Peregrinos straggled, protectively winding upward to the center of the town.
I enjoyed my stay in Castrojeriz because I was lucky to have been the 9th person to stay at the wonderful Embed Posada located in the Plaza Major. I wrote about this wonderful Casa Rural in my Places to Stay section. Unfortunately, my Achilles tendon injury decided to flare up and I had to resort to ice and ibuprofen for 3 hours. This severely limited my ability to explore but I did have plenty of time to enjoy the views of valley below from the spacious balcony of Embed Posada.
I also had a hearty meal at La Taberna (you can’t miss it as it is on the pilgrim route on the Calle Real de Oriente). The food is simple and delicious. The authentic rustic ambience could actually make you believe that you were in the 16th or 17th century instead of the 21st.
Next time I’ll spend some more time in Castrojeriz