It is located on the banks of the river Arlanza, in the Sierra de Las Mamblas, in the municipality of Hortigüela, in a mysterious and romantic enclave protected by the thickness of the juniper forest that surrounds it. In the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza Roman and Visigothic remains have been found in the area where the monastery was built, according to written data, in 912 by order of Gonzalo Fernández, father of Fernán González. During centuries it had a great cultural, economic and religious importance, not exempt of litigations and disputes, with the consequent transformations and reforms of the monastery to accommodate it to the necessities of each epoch. It was the dwelling of Benedictine monks until they abandoned it in 1841 as a consequence of the disentailment of Mendizábal. The enclosure then suffered serious plundering, which together with the great fire that took place there in 1890 led to a drastic ruin.
At present, work is being done to maintain the walls and the areas that time has left standing while at the same time studying their recovery in order to be able to give them some historical-cultural use. It passes through an arch to access the courtyard entrance to the monastery, in it, a gate with neoclassical finishes of the year 1643 invites to enter the building. The smaller cloister or cloister of the laymen, of Herrerian style and in which the life of the monks dedicated to the different works that the monastery required passed, appears before the eyes of the visitor, then the larger cloister, also of Herrerian style, of the 17th century, and which was built on top of another existing Romanesque. In this part of the monastery it was the intellectual monks who lived. Around this cloister was opened the refectory, the chapterhouse, as well as other rooms and access to the church whose remains are the oldest of the entire monastic complex as they date from 1080, with basilical plant retains the head of three apses, and the giant bases of the columns that held their vaults, on the ground can still be seen gravestones of burials.
The tower has a square floor plan and is reached from the top by a spiral staircase adjoined to it by a large cube, its construction is from the early thirteenth century and has all the appearance of having had a defensive character, outside is adorned in its corners by the coats of arms of the house. Once you have visited the monastery and so that there is no lagoon left in the lived experience, there is nothing better than approaching the ruins of the hermitage of San Pelayo that seem to be waiting for their moment of glory there on high.
The history of the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza is full of traditions and legends, one of them says that the great pinsapo, an impressive tree that has existed for around two hundred years and is found in the minor cloister, was brought from the Sierra de Cádiz, or like the one that tells that near the monastery there is a cave, the cave of the cat that is supposed to communicate with the monastery.
The river Arlanza passes underneath the monastery and when in winter the monks were isolated by the inclemency of the weather, they fished from their cells and thus they procured the food. The precious forest of junipers that surrounds the passage of the river Arlanza by the zone, has examples of this small conifer that surpasses the two thousand years of antiquity.
Legend has it that one day Count Fernan Gonzalez was hunting through these valleys when he observed a huge wild boar and chasing him to hunt him he reached a cave where the holy hermit Pelayo lived, when he saw him, he prophesied that he was going to have great victories that would lead Castile to its greatness and independence. When the Count saw these good omens fulfilled, he ordered a hermitage to be built in the place where the cave was located, that of San Pelayo, whose ruins, on a promontory above the Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza, still seem to watch over the narrow valley. Later, the mortal remains of Count Fernán González rested in the monastery church and it is said that every time there was a battle against the infidels it was removed in their burial.
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Hortigüela is located in the middle of the N-234 that joins Burgos and Soria, just 45 km from Burgos. We can also access from the A-1 arriving at the town of Covarrubias and from there through the BU-905 heading towards Hortigüela.
Monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza is situated at the foot of the BU-905 road, which links Hortigüela with Covarrubias. In the surroundings we will have an area to be able to leave our vehicle.
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