Palencia: the little-known icon of the Northern Plateau
"What did you miss in Palencia?" they will ask you when you set off on your journey. Of the nine provinces of Castilla y León, Palencia is the one with the reputation of being forgotten.
To give you an idea, the cathedral of its capital, the Santa Iglesia Catedral de San Antolin, earned the nickname "the beautiful unknown". Today, a cultural modernisation project proudly bears the name "La bella reconocida". Shall we discover it?
Palencia is a province in which the past is present only as an engine for the future. It is exciting because it is unknown, rooted in its origins and in the countryside, but with an eye that never stops looking to what is yet to come.
Did you know that the whole of Palencia is an open-air museum? The province has the highest concentration of Romanesque monuments in Europe. The level is such that the Congress even supported a proposal to promote the Romanesque of Palencia as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Where can you find good examples of this architectural style? Follow these clues, which you can't miss: San Martín de Tours, in Frómista; the Hermitage of San Miguel and that of Perpetuo Socorro, in Población de Campos; or the Church of Santa María de las Victorias y del Camino, in Carrión de los Condes.
In addition to their Romanesque appearance, these villages have something else in common. The French Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago), which crosses Palencia from east to west for 70 kilometres, passes through them.
Boots ready? In the heart of the Meseta, the route is easy, without any major slopes and with impressive natural scenery, such as the banks of the Pisuerga River, the Canal de Castilla or the endless horizons of Tierra de Campos. Stand up. Look around you. Breathe. This is Palencia.
Palencia is unfathomable and is unthinkable without the Montaña Palentina Natural Park, the most remote place in the province made up of valleys, cliffs, precipices, spires and other natural watermarks with the capacity to leave you in ecstasy.
When you see it, you will be looking at a landscape shaped by the action of the rivers Carrión and Pisuerga, where you can walk along paths through marshes and forests. And find surprises along the way! Did you know that there is a forest full of works of art? Note: this is the route in homage to the local artist Ursicino Martínez.
You will lose yourself in the Laberinto de las Tuerces, declared a Natural Monument, a landscape made up of a series of stony forms of limestone rock eroded over the ages. Also in the Loras Geopark, which is protected by UNESCO and which includes karstic formations and archaeological sites. A secret: look for the Palencia moorland of the Loras. You'll feel like you're on another planet.
Palencia, land of gastronomy and wines
The suckling lamb from Villasirga, the vegetables from Frómista, the cecina from the Villarramiel valley, the beans from Carrión, the pulses from Saldaña, the meat from Cervera de Pisuerga or its raw milk cheeses from Churra sheep, here you have come to taste!
Do you have a sweet tooth? Palencia is your place. Don't leave without trying (and taking home some foodie souvenirs) the amarguillos, the puff pastry bows and the Pisuerguinas sultanas, from the Uko family business.
And the wines? Production is concentrated in two Designations of Origin: Arlanza and Cigales wines. Whites, reds and rosés for a toast with unknown wines that, like the province in which they are born, will never cease to surprise you.
A land to discover and a hotel, the Sercotel Rey Sancho Hotel, from which to do so. From the centre of the capital of Palencia, we bring you closer to the great unknown of Castilla y León.