It is situated 40 kilometres from the capital, Palencia, on the left bank of the River Carrión and surrounded by fields of cereals and horticultural crops, leafy poplar groves with slight undulations and hillocks, a landscape typical of Tierra de Campos. There are references that in the place existed an important Roman population, in 1047 the counts of the lineage of the Banu Gómez and above all the Countess Teresa Paeleáez ordered to construct the Benedictine convent of San Zoilo, the bridge on the river Carrión and a hospital of pilgrims, and it is said that the surname of, of the Counts, that Carrión takes is for them. However, the full name of Carrión de los Condes does not appear until Aldonza Manrique's will in 1522. But the true historical significance of the city dates back to medieval times when it was intrinsically linked to the kingdom of León and the crown of Castilla respectively.
It was the refuge of Alfonso VI after his defeat to his brother Sancho. Within its walls were held meetings of courts and councils, all due to the great importance and power that had at that time the Counts of Carrión. It came to have 12 parishes and more than twenty temples. In the 14th century the famous rabbi Sem Tob, poet, author of Proverbios Morales, was born in Carrión, which at that time had the most important Jewish quarter of Palencia, and was one of the many illustrious figures that the city saw born at that time and that gave splendour to letters, theology and the art of war. Perhaps one of the best known is the Marquis of Santillana, whose house where he lived is still preserved. For Carrión, the 16th century was a time of urban and monumental transformation. During the War of Independence, Carrión, due to its strategic position and the fact that it was a place of military assistance, was of great importance, but it brought about harmful effects for the city, as a major fire destroyed important buildings, convents and churches, with the disappearance of the writings of privileges and documents that its archives kept, which in part changed its monumental aspect.
The confiscations of 1820 and 1835 by Mendizábal, as well as the Carlist War, did not favour the layout and economy of Carrión either, which immediately went back with reconstructions, both urbanistic and social and economic. Today, Carrión de los Condes is a modern city, without losing its roots and monumentality, as well as radiating culture with its fairs, contests of diverse arts, theatrical representations and polyphonic concerts.
A city with so much history cannot fail to show it in every corner of its streets, and here in Carrión the passage of time still lets us admire a good number of monuments. At the entrance of the city coming by the Way is the hermitage of the Virgen de la Piedad of the XVI century. A little further on the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara, founded in the thirteenth century by Queen Mencia López de Haro, wife of Sancho II of Portugal. The convent of Santa Clara together with the church, the museum, the inn and the inn make up the monastery today. The parish church of Santa María de las Victorias y del Camino is in Romanesque style from the 12th century and is dedicated to the Virgen de las Victorias in allusion to the defeat suffered by the Muslims and the legendary tribute of the one hundred maidens, reflected in the capitals on the left side of its southern façade.
The church of Santiago from the 12th century was originally attached to the primitive wall of the village, its current tower stands out over the houses on Calle de la Rúa and dates back to 1765, the interior of the church today houses the Museum of Sacred Art. The church of San Andrés Apóstol, one of the oldest parishes in the locality, is known as the cathedral of Carrión de los Condes. The church of Nuestra Señora de Belén, located on the old quarter of the Castillería, dates from the end of the 15th century but has reforms from the 16th and 17th centuries. The church of San Julián has the coats of arms of the patron saints of the temple on its façade. On the site where the synagogue and the old Cruz hospital used to be stands the Cruz hermitage. But Carrión also shows its emblazoned houses, civil monuments and palaces, which like the whole town tell of its glorious past, the Gothic palace; the house of the Eagle, which is the old palace of the Counts of Salinas; that of Tears or Casa Grande; that of the Corner Balcony, that of the Marquis of Santillana, the Town Hall or the Major Bridge...
If you follow the Way, on leaving the locality you will come across the building that is most closely linked to the name of Carrión, the once powerful and framework and enclave of the Castilian and Leonese royalty, the Monastery of San Zoilo, which has its origin in the 10th and 11th centuries. The beautiful façade of its Romanesque church, with marble columns and stone capitals and almost cathedral-like dimensions, is striking, but the real jewel is its magnificent 16th century cloister, Renaissance and Plateresque, crowned by a high gallery at the beginning of the 17th century, in its capitals, fascinating and perfect skulls watch over us. But Carrión also offers us the enjoyment of nature in its parks and walks such as the Calzada de Piedra or the river Carrión, which in good weather offers us the possibility of sporting activities such as canoeing, descending with pneumatic chambers, swimming... and from its viewpoints, the Belén and the Nubis river, you can contemplate the entire fertile plain of the river Carrión.
The second half of August is celebrated in Carrión de los Condes the main festivities in honour of San Zoilo, patron saint of the town, although the religious festivity and the Santoral is still San Zoilo on 27 June. On 8 September the feast of the Virgin of the Belén takes place.
It is a tradition that portable devotional chapels that are wooden boxes, with one of their faces glazed and closed by two doors, in the base have a drawer with a slot like a hood and inside there is an image of devotion with some floral decoration. By means of a list of houses, placed on the back of the box, they are taken from one to the other following the order. This tour takes place in 30 days, in which the image visits 30 homes. The person who delivers the chapel has to say "Ave María Purísima" and who picks it up answers "Sin pecado concebida". Once in the corresponding home, a candle is lit and the Rosary is prayed as a family and before taking it to the next house, a prayer is prayed and an obolo or donation is placed in the piggy bank at the foot of the chapel. The devotional images of Carrión are the Heart of Jesus, the Holy Family, the Virgin of Carmen, the Miraculous Virgin, Saint Rita, Saint Anthony or the Virgin of the Rosary.
The powerful infants of Carrion, who married the daughters of Cid and who suffered a severe punishment at his hands for their bellaquería, were immortalized in the form of legend and story in the magical Song of My Cid. Their graves are preserved in the Monastery of San Zoilo.
One of the many legends that run through Carrión de los Condes is related to the house of the Lagarto. Doña Ana, widow of the alderman of Carrión had a house built as a dowry for her daughter, who, like her mother, was also called Ana, because she wanted to marry her to a rich farmer. But the girl had a secret affair with Juan, son of the sacristan of the church of San Andrés to which they went daily. At the insistence of the mother with the marriage, the daughter told her that she would do it when the house was finished, but every time they visited the works the girl put new objections and changes in order to delay them and when she went to pray she always prostrated herself at the feet of the Virgen de las Nieves begging her to allow her to marry her beloved Juan. The Virgin listened to her, because in the work a lizard appeared that frightened the bricklayers and destroyed what had been built. She also appeared to the parish priest and asked him to marry the children, thus making him the priest but in secret. When the house was finally finished, the rich suitor went to enter it with Doña Ana and her daughter, but the lizard, which had grown a lot, stopped at the door and said "only those who pay tribute to true love, and poor of the one who crosses it without love, can cross the threshold of this home. Then Anna and John held hands, the lizard moved away and they were able to enter, but he did not let anyone else pass. The parish priest confessed that he had married them in secret and the rich farmer left. It is said that the lizard remained on the roof while Ana and Juan lived, and after his death it disappeared. Their children, to perpetuate this beautiful love story, made a forge lizard and put it on the corner of the roof overhang to remind all who pass by that love is the most important thing in life. Today the lizard on the roof eaves is painted green.
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To get to Carrión de los Condes by private vehicle, you can do so by following the A-231, the Camino dual carriageway that links Burgos with León, which has an exit as it passes through the town. We can also arrive from Palencia by the CL-615, at the same time another possibility is to do it from Frómista, in the A-67 between Palencia and Santander, by the P-980 that arrives at Carrión de los Condes passing by Villalcázar de Sirga among others. Without forgetting the N-120 that still communicates it with the nearby towns of Calzada de los Molinos and San Mamés de Campos.
There is a bus service every day of the week at different times along the Palencia-Carrión route. Palencia bus station, telephone 979 743 222. Also from Burgos there is public bus transport from Monday to Saturday. Burgos bus station, telephone 947 288 855. And from León there is connection by this means every day of the week except Saturdays, which is not there, however Carrión-León if there is service every day at different times. León bus station, telephone 987 211 000.
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