It is a small municipality located on the northern slope of the mountain range of the same name, on the left bank of the river Villamorico or Vena, just 18 kilometres from Burgos and with a very interesting natural environment, which owes its fame to the archaeological sites prehistoric found in its district. Atapuerca as such, is documented in the year 963, when a scribe reflects the donation that Doña Fronilde makes to the abbot and monks of the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña calling it Adtaporka. It should be remembered that the Castilians appeared in these lands of Arlanzón at the end of the 9th century, in an attempt to reconquer the lost lands from the Arabs, thereby founding colonies and settlements with common rules and way of life.
As in the villages of the area, there is no doubt that the Way to Saint James has also influenced, and continues to do so, the forging of its history. In the year 1054 Atapuerca was immersed in the battle that bears its name, between Navarre and Castile. This land was the borderline between the two and was therefore the cause of dispute. Later, Doña Urraca donated the town of Atapuerca to the Military Order of the Hospital of San Juan de Jerusalén, and then Alfonso VII in the middle of the 12th century, by means of a letter, confirmed this donation, conferring it a charter as well, thus passing from royal to ecclesiastical dominion. Already in the eighteenth century, the town again appears as royal and is part of the party of Castrojeriz within the Brotherhood of the Montes de Oca..
The traditional architecture of Atapuerca is typical of the area, and it preserves its physiognomy even with the passage of time, highlighting the half-timbered houses that use wood, adobe and stone. On a small hill is the church of San Martín de Tours, from the 15th and 16th centuries, with a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Inside, a beautiful main altarpiece and the equestrian statue of the saint who is the titleholder of the temple attract our attention.
In front of the Plaza Mayor across the road are the schools, which were inaugurated according to the commemorative plaque in 1932. It is a solid stone building that distributed almost horizontally, without heights, today houses an exhibition on the findings of the archaeological sites of the highlands and also the visitor reception center from where they organize visits to the interesting archaeological park, with a representation of a troglodyte life camp and workshops and of course to the archaeological sites. Curious to see are the dolmen tumuli or funerary monuments, which are in the vicinity of the locality and are identified with the route that from San Juan de Ortega reaches directly here. And what most characterizes the town and most renown has given it are the Prehistoric Archaeological Sites of the Sierra de Atapuerca, located about 500 meters northeast of Atapuerca.
Atapuerca celebrates the 11th of November fiestas in honour of San Martín, the Thanksgiving fiestas are on the first Sunday in September and the 30th of November commemorates the date on which it was declared a World Heritage Site.
A representation of the popular Battle of Atapuerca has been taking place for years, usually in mid-August and a large number of non-professional actors participate in it. It is held in the open air on the hillside behind the church of San Martín. On the same day in the village squares there is a medieval market.
Atapuerca has played a very important role in the protohistory of man, since in this place were located the remains of Homo Antecesor, the oldest man in Europe.
To get to Atapuerca you can follow the N-I until the detour to Olmos de Atapuerca, close to the municipality of Quintanapalla and from there continue to Atapuerca. On the N-120 between Burgos and Logroño we find the other detour, near Zalduendo, which takes us to Atapuerca, passing through Santovenia de Oca and Agés.
The bus service that covers the Burgos-Cerratón de Juarros line stops at Atapuerca. You can also get there by bus from the capital of Burgos, with the Burgos-Logroño line with a stop at the national line.
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