Although its oldest findings, which correspond to a settlement from the Bronze Age, have been found next to the river, the Celtiberian city is located at the top of the hill, in the Sierra Pela, in the municipality of Montejo de Tiermes, in the province of Soria. The archaeological remains of the Bronze Age settlement have been found below the Celtiberian necropolis of Carratiermes, which has been recorded since the sixth century B.C. In the fourth century of that era, we know of a small Arevacan city, oppidum, perhaps named Termes, which in the second century B.C. became a city-state. The conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by Rome was a long process, Termes would fall, in 98 B.C., into the hands of the empire after the assault of the consul Titus Didius. Years later, when Tiberius ruled, Tiermes would have undergone such important transformations that it earned the recognition of being a municipality by right and its inhabitants as Roman citizens.
The city reached its greatest splendour between the first and second centuries of our era, in the third century it was walled, which indicates that Tiermes still maintained its importance. In the following centuries, during the Visigothic and Muslim periods, the city survived but little is known of what happened to it in history until the Reconquest, when an attempt was made to revive the city. A church and a monastery were built under the patronage of Santa María de Tiermes, but its inhabitants had spread out to the nearby villages and Caracena took over as the capital of the region. In the sixteenth century, is the last time that Tiermes is mentioned and already as a village and the church of Santa Maria de Tiermes becomes a hermitage, which currently remains as a center of religious devotion in the southwest of Soria.
A visit to this Spanish Petra, one of the most interesting places in the province of Soria both for its historical and archaeological interest and its attractive location, surrounded by a landscape that is also the guardian of the habitat of many birds, especially rock birds, is a pleasant walk through a network of urban development that reveals the different cultures that settled here, especially the Celtiberian and Roman. Rooms, houses, stairs, doors and access corridors carved into the rock, such as the Gate of the Sun, in the middle of a corridor carved into the rock in the southeast of the city, considered Celtiberian, what is visible is from the first century BC to the first of our era.
This door gives access to the rupestrian grandstand, a large public building dedicated to various recreational, commercial and religious activities, and its construction dates from the same period. Forming part of a neighbourhood of houses, the so-called Southern Rupestrian Complex can be admired, which is the most interesting example of Termestine cave architecture. It is made up of two houses that date from the first half of the first century AD and exhibit typically Roman construction techniques. Of the large building of the Roman baths, the most visible remainder is the angle of a wall canvas of one of the rooms. Continuing the tour, the visitor finds the House of the Hornacinas, so called because on its side walls there are four cupboards carved into the rock. In the House of Pedro, a central staircase serves as an axis for the two rooms that open up on both sides of it.
Behind the rupestrian dwellings, near one of the branches of the aqueduct, two large buildings are called the House of the Aqueduct I and II. House of Aqueduct I was a big private mansion, its surface occupies a complete block and it was the first one excavated in all its proportions in Tiermes. Buildings with flats for neighbours were already used in Tiermes, as can be admired in the House of Neighbours, up to six floors high, attached to the rock and of which the inner wall of the building is preserved. Another access to the city was the West Gate. It was a ramp for internal communication of the Roman city and communicated the three terraces that formed the hill where the city was settled. At the highest part of the hill there are some remainings that could be those of a Temple. The Theatre Cavea, the canvases of the Roman wall, Flavius' and Julius Claudius' Forums, the Mosaic building...
The bold visitor who has entered this city with the intention of savouring centuries of history cannot leave it without visiting part of its well-deserved aqueduct, whose original work dates from the time of Tiberius, years 14 to 37 AD, and which constitutes the most outstanding element of engineering in the territory of Tiermes, and visit the hermitage of Santa María de Tiermes, Romanesque from the 12th century, the old church of the town until the 16th century when Tiermes was completely depopulated, or admire the late medieval necropolis around the hermitage, with tombs that range from the 11th to the 15th century approximately. You can continue to discover the remains of this magnificent site less than a kilometre from the ruins of the Celtiberian-Roman temple of Tiermes, in the place called Carratiermes because it is a crossing point for the Royal Way, near the river. Another large Celtiberian necropolis awaits unperturbed those who wish to approach it. In the Monographic Museum of Tiermes, which was inaugurated in 1986, you can obtain all the necessary information to better understand the history and culture of all these people who lived here.
The hermitage of Santa María de Tiermes maintains a religious tradition with the inhabitants of Montejo de Tiermes, as well as with the people of all the villages in the region and the rest of Soria. Twice a year, on the last Saturday of May and the twelfth of October, people go on pilgrimage to the hermitage, with crosses, banners and standards, the first time in prayer and the second time in thanksgiving.
The origin of the name Tiermes lends itself to controversy. Sometimes it is called Termancia, in line with Numancia. The ancient name was Termes or Tarmes, until in the Middle Ages it became Tiermes. Near the reservoir of Yesa there is a town called Tiermas because of the existence of thermal waters in its vicinity. For other scholars the name Tiermes or Tielmes comes from the Indo-European root term-, taladrar, a root that has also given the words termes and termites.
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It is said that in Tiermes, Alamos-Hercules locked up a woman-serpent, Elpha, a terrifying and enormous snake that today still sleeps in a dreamlike millenary dream in the deepest and most remote tunnels of this rocky city.
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From the N-110 road that joins Soria with Segovia, the SO-135 road starts and arrives at Montejo de Tiermes, starting from the town of Ayllón, being on this same road but in the section between Montejo de Tiermes and Retortillo de Soria where we will find the detour that leads to the Archaeological Site of Tiermes. We can also get to Montejo de Tiermes from San Esteban de Gormaz by following the SO-P-4003 road that links both towns. The town has a transport service on demand, available on Mondays, Tuesdays and working Fridays. The telephone number to request this service is 900 204 020.
Once we have taken the detour, we will only have to continue on the road as it leads us without further detours to, first the museum and later already through a road in good condition to the parking lot where we can leave the car and begin the visit to the Archaeological Site of Tiermes.
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