It is located to the west of Burgos at its western end, on the border with the province of Palencia, on the slope of a hill and on the left bank of the Odra River. Castrojeriz has its origin in the hill that watches the area, because its strategic character was a great reason for the first population settlements that scholars date from the time of the Iron Age, fourth century BC, the Celtiberian period, with a castro that was Romanized in the time of Julius Caesar and was called by these Castrum Caesaris. Later, in the High Middle Ages, it was the Visigoths who built another castle, Castrum Sigiceri, an important strategic bastion at that time. The village developed and grew both physically and economically when in 882 Munio Núñez occupied and repopulated the area.
The Castro was the scene of numerous battles between Arabs and Christians and a lot of blood was shed from one side and the other, so for some the etymology of Castrojeriz comes from Castro del Xaraiz, which in Arabic means bloody. The granting of the privilege granted to him, in 974, by the Count of Castile García Fernández, in which it was said that any peasant who possesses a horse would be equated with an infanzón, together with the rise of pilgrims to Santiago, turned Castrojeriz into a flourishing medieval town. For centuries the town has been linked to royal power. The town was the birthplace of Infanta Constanza, daughter of Pedro I El Cruel. The castle of Castrojeriz was used as a prison when King Pedro took to him his wife Blanca and his aunt Leonor, who were imprisoned in Roa. Castrojeriz was in the hands of the crown of Castile until the Catholic Monarchs granted it as a county to Ruy Díaz de Mendoza. Centuries later, in the Floridablanca Census of 1787, it appears as the historic centre of Castrojeriz's party, one of the fourteen that formed the Intendancy of Burgos during the period between 1785 and 1833. Its jurisdiction was of lordship being its owner the Marquesa de Camarasa, who appointed ordinary mayor.
When we approach Castrojeriz along the Pilgrim's Way to Saint James, we are greeted by the ruins of the 14th-century Convent of San Antón, the silhouette of its castle immediately announces its proximity. It is undoubtedly the oldest monument in the town and was surrounded by the ancient wall of the town that had several gates such as San Miguel, Santa Eulalia, Puerta del Monte and Puerta Sardina. The Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 caused most of its walls to collapse.
Following the route of the Way we enter the village through the district outside the walls where we are welcomed by the collegiate church of Santa Maria del Manzano, whose first reference is from the eleventh century, although the temple we see today began to build in the thirteenth century. Its style is a transition between Romanesque and Gothic, inside houses interesting paintings and altarpieces, as well as fourteenth-century sepulchres and beautiful images, including that of Our Lady of Manzano, a sculpture to which King Alfonso X the Wise dedicated some of his Cantigas. In the medieval Castrojeriz there were eight churches of which only those of San Juan and Santo Domingo are still standing. The church of San Juan was built in the thirteenth century but its cloister was in the fifteenth, throughout the sixteenth century underwent major reforms, has a simple facade, which seems unfinished, where we are struck by a five-pointed star oculus. The church of Santo Domingo, of Gothic style but with later reforms of century XVIII, at the moment the temple, closed to the cult, has been reformed and in its interior lodges a center of interpretation of the Way of Saint James, in which, as if it were a trip in the time, the visitor is submerged in the history of the pilgrimages in the Middle Ages and the adventures of the people who carried out them. There were also two convents, both of the Franciscan order, one for men and another for women, the Convent of San Francisco was the male, its ruins are on the road to Hontanas, the original temple of the fourteenth century only a series of sharp arches and ribbed vaults remain.
The Convent of Santa Clara, after being founded around the year 1.264 by King Alfonso X the Wise, in the place of Tablín, next to the fountains, was moved to the town in 1.326. The church of the convent dates from the beginning of the 14th century and has a beautiful 18th century sculpture of the Immaculate Conception. The remains of the wall and its four towers remain from the old palace of the Counts of Castro. It was burned down and destroyed during the War of Independence. It was linked to the castle by the nearby fort and by a rammed earth wall that divided the hill from north to south. The Gutiérrez Barona house, located in the district of San Juan, was built at the end of the 14th century. And last but not least, the Plaza Mayor, with its portico and curious elongated layout in keeping with the town-way, could have been from the 17th century, although it still conserves the remains of 16th century columns, where the town's markets were held. The remains of one of the old walls that protected the village, located in the lower part of the town, house a square known as the Puerta del Monte, is very crowded by the inhabitants and holidaymakers and in it are most of the bars, restaurants and hotels. In addition numerous routes involve the town with nature, art and history as, the route of Campos de Castrojeriz, Villadiego and Sasamón, the Renaissance route or the route of the region Odra - Pisuerga.
Castrojeriz celebrates fiestas in honour of its patron saint, San Juan, on 24 June and celebrates its patron saint, Santa María del Manzano, the Fiesta del Sejo, in the first week of September.
A deep-rooted tradition in Castrojeriz is the celebration of garlic, because although here it has coexisted with other agricultural products for centuries, it is the only one that has a day in which its main value, the gastronomic value, is praised. It was the Egyptians and the Greeks who already valued the properties of garlic, which was used either as a condiment in the kitchen or as a natural antibiotic. Its fame has mixed legend and reality, giving it great values. The Feria del Ajo (Garlic Fair) has become an obligatory event in Castrojeriz, where the flavour and tradition of the crop are mixed with the fiesta and good food.
In Castrojeriz there is a cruise ship that instead of having a Latin cross wears a TAU. Perhaps it is a souvenir of the Order of the Antonians who had a monastery and hospital on the outskirts of the village, the impressive ruins of the convent of St. Anton, where people who had the disease of the fire of St. Anton, also called sacred fire or hell fire, were cared for. His symptoms, hallucinations, convulsions and arterial contraction led to necrosis of the tissues and the appearance of gangrene in the extremities mainly. The only known remedy in the Middle Ages was to go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The disease was caused by the prolonged consumption of rye bread contaminated by the ergot fungus. The hospital of the convent of San Antón de Castrojeriz cured the sick by offering them wheat bread, before cooking it a Tau was drawn and it was blessed in the feast of San Antonio, they also used the holy wine, remedy of the fire that was administered for the healing of the lacerated ones by its contact and sprinkling.
Legend has it that many years ago, a very beautiful blackberry, daughter of the sultan of the castle, was in love with a young Christian knight, but his father had agreed to marry a rich and powerful sultan. When she reached the age of marriage, began the preparations and celebrations of the wedding, there were banquets, dances, but the blackberry was very sad thinking of his love, when the day of the wedding was fulfilled she asked to leave the party to rest and in an oversight took the sword of the one who was already her husband and retired to her room, once in her, as she could not belong to the gentleman she loved she stuck the sword in her heart. Today in the silence of the night, the air of the castle brings the groans of the sad and unfortunate girl.
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You can get to Castrojeriz by following the BU-400 which, from Melgar de Fernamental, joins the A-231 or Camino dual carriageway with the A-62, between Burgos and Valladolid, in Villaquirán de los Infantes. We can also do it from Villasandino in full N-120 between Burgos and León following the BU-404. Other local roads link Castrojeriz with nearby towns such as Hontanas or Pedrosa del Príncipe in the limits of the provinces of Burgos and Palencia.
There is bus service Burgos-Castrojeriz from Monday to Friday at different times and can also be reached by bus from Melgar de Fernamental.
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