It is located at the top of the hill called Alto de Castro, in Peñalba de Castro, province of Burgos, and that the waters of the river Arandilla, in its search for union with the river Duero, flow at the foot of this hill. It is known that before the Romans arrived in the Peninsula Ibérica, this area was inhabited by Arevacos, as corroborated by the remains found in the Alto del Cuerno, very close to the site of the Roman Clunia. This Celtiberian settlement was called Cluniaco or Kolounioukou, which later derived into Clunia. In Alto de Castro have only been found the remains of what was one of the main Roman cities in northern Spain that was founded in the early first century after Christ, being emperor of Rome Tiberius which granted the status of Roman municipality and the power to mint coins. In the middle of that century it became the capital of a legal convent and as such became the legal and religious centre of a large territory. The importance and splendour of Clunia grew between the 1st and 2nd centuries after Christ. It was reached by some of the main Roman roads.
Ptolemy, in the 2nd century AD, cites Clunia as a colony for the first time with his full name Colonia Clunia Sulpicia; a name given to him when the death of Nero was known, in 68 AD, General Sulpicio Galba proclaimed himself emperor, although it was Vespasian who finally took command of the empire. However, in the days of Servio Sulpicio Galba, Clunia was the capital of the Empire. This prosperity was maintained until at the end of the third century began a slight decline that gradually increased to end almost in anonymity under the rule of the Visigoths in the fifth and sixth centuries. Despite all this Clunia continued to persist. It was Christianized very soon, as can be seen in the necropolis around the Ermita de Castro. The Muslims took the city and its surroundings around the year 713, then the place was reconquered and repopulated by Christians in the year 912. Later the Alto de Castro became the property of the Church until with the confiscations, the place remained in the hands of private individuals until the town of Peñalba de Castro was built and took over the enclave of Clunia and the few remains, not yet buried, that remained of the abandoned Roman city.
The archaeological work carried out in Clunia has uncovered remains that show us how its urban structure was, the importance and evolution throughout the centuries of its history as well as showing the way of life of its inhabitants, customs, economy, culture ... Step by step the visitor is going to discover the forum, public square, all of it porticoed, it was the neuralgic center, in it trials were developed, commercial transactions were closed, and in the temple of Jupiter that presided over the head of the place, religiosity had its place. The thermal baths, a social and recreational place where, in addition to taking care of hygiene and the cult of the body, was the meeting place for conversation.
In Clunia there were three thermal complexes, those of Arcos I and II, that although independent are constructed in the same zone with the purpose of taking better advantage of the water of the subsoil, and the small Thermal Baths of the Forum. The Virgen de Castro hermitage is located on the site of the monumental Flavio building. Houses, streets in which, with imagination, it is still believed to be able to listen to the hustle and bustle of the city. And of course, in a city of the importance of Clunia, the theatre was built in the first century, semi-excavado in the hillside and with capacity for more or less 10,000 people. In the beginning it was the place of interpretation of theatrical works of the classic period; after the remodeling of the II century it became a place where the spectacles of beasts and fights were guaranteed, that is to say an amphitheater or circus.
In the hermitage of the Virgin of Castro, located inside the Archaeological Site of Clunia, pilgrimages and celebrations are carried out on different dates of the year. The festivity of the Virgin of Castro is on the 8th of September but nowadays it is celebrated on the last weekend of August.
As tradition dictates, on the third Sunday of April, a pilgrimage arrives at the hermitage of the Virgen de Castro. The residents of the villages in the area start from Caleruega and carry the image of Santo Domingo de Guzmán on their shoulders, travelling the road from Caleruega to Peñalba de Castro, passing through Arauzo de Torre. Once inside the enclosure of the Archaeological Site of Clunia it is the women of Peñalba de Castro who receive the "Santito" and take him to the hermitage of the Virgin of Castro. After the mass the music plays; charangas, dances and a good agape complete this festive day.
Since 1999, a Youth Festival of Grecolatino Theatre of Clunia has been held in the Roman theatre of Clunia. This festival, in addition to presenting the rich historical and architectural heritage of the Roman city of Clunia, strives to promote the culture and literature that the classics have bequeathed to us.
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The Roman Clunia is located above a large aquifer known as the Cave of San Román, a karstic complex formed by galleries and underground lagoons that the Romans knew how to take advantage of by constructing, within the galleries, several cisterns with their corresponding water intake channels. But the Cave of San Román treasures in its interior a magical place, a sacred place, a small cavity, which is known as the Priapic Sanctuary, and where a group of itifalic figures and masks have been found, made of the tender mud of the same galleries, some of them with inscriptions made with the fingers or some sharp object.
Peñalba de Castro can be reached via the BU-925 road that links it with Coruña del Conde and Aranda de Duero on one side and with Huerta de Rey and Salas de los Infantes on the other. We can also reach the town from Arauzo de Torre. Peñalba de Castro has a bus stop which, from Monday to Friday, covers the route Aranda de Duero-Salas Infantes.
All we have to do is follow the signs that lead us to the entrance door to the archaeological site, where the ticket offices and the information point are located. We will have a first car park next to the ticket offices, and a second car park inside the enclosure, next to the main archaeological site.
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