It is a small town in Burgos located on the banks of the river Arlanza and is part of the geographical space recently baptized as the Arlanza Triangle formed by three villas of great historical and cultural interest such as Santo Domingo de Silos, Lerma and Covarrubias. Very possibly the name Covarrubias derives from the large number of clay caves, red caves, blond caves, which are in the beautiful spots that are located overlooking the river Arlanza in the vicinity of the town. There were settlements in the area since the Palaeolithic period. Known are its first settlers, the pre-Roman Celtiberian tribe of the Turmodes, then came the Romans, but its true origin is medieval, as it was founded by the Visigoth king Chindasvinto in the seventh century on the remains of a Roman castro. Later it was the Arabs, at this time the events in Covarrubias were agitated and tumultuous because the river Arlanza was the natural border between Castile and the Muslim area.
In the 10th century Count García Fernández created the infantado de Covarrubias and the town thus became one of the most important and influential monastic lordships. From this small independent state it was the abbess Doña Urraca, daughter of the Count, who would hold the civil and religious power. With the passing of time, little by little the infantado lost notoriety and possessions until it ended up in royal power. It was Ferdinand III the Saint who, at the behest of his mother Doña Berenguela, managed to give him back his autonomy and put Infante Don Felipe in his government. The 15th and 16th centuries brought prosperity to the abbey and the town. These were years of plenitude and tranquillity, but at the end of the 16th century a great epidemic decimated the population and the walls were demolished for a better cleaning of the air of the town. The following centuries passed in Covarrubias without relevant historical changes, and today the town has managed to conserve and unify art and history with an avid actuality.
To visit Covarrubias is to enjoy the paving of its streets, to admire its picturesque houses, with a wooden framework that stands out from its stone and adobe walls, to shelter in its arcades and to discover in every corner an authentic medieval village in the middle of the 21st century. Since you enter Covarrubias under the arch of the Archive of the Overtaking of Castilla built in 1575, we find buildings as historic as the old Palace of Count Fernan Gonzalez, whose original construction of the twelfth century only remains a Romanesque arch, today is the City Hall and is located in the crowded and beautiful Plaza Mayor. The House of Doña Sancha dates from the 12th century and was restored in the 15th century, a beautiful building that reflects the traditional architecture of the town, as well as the House of the Old Boticario, which was faithfully rebuilt in 1991. In front of this house the church of Santo Tomás, from the XII century, although the one we see today is from the XV century, it has a real plateresque jewel, its staircase.
Fernán González's Tower, a defensive tower from the 10th century. The walls of the 10th century and of which some remains near the medieval bridge over the river Arlanza are preserved. The ex-collegiate church of San Cosme and San Damián whose origin is Visigothic of the seventh century, which was replaced by a Romanesque church in the twelfth century, and then built the current Gothic temple of the late fifteenth century, and houses more than thirty beautiful tombs, including those of Count Fernan Gonzalez and his wife Doña Sancha, who were brought from the ruins of San Pedro de Arlanza and the Infanta Kristina of Norway whose statue adorns some small gardens in front of the temple. And after having nourished spirit and body tasting the rich food that Covarrubias offers and paying attention to the famous Latin phrase Mens sana in corpore sano, what better than enjoying the natural environment surrounding the village by walking along one of its paths or discovering spectacular canyons and gorges opened and drilled by wild and eternal streams.
Covarrubias celebrates its patron saint fiestas in honour of San Cosme and San Damián at the end of September. The pilgrimage to the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Redonda, which is celebrated on Sunday in the middle of the same month, also involves the villages of Ura and Puentedura. The previous Sunday the pilgrimage is to the hermitage of the Virgen de Mamblas, in which all the villages around the Sierra de Mamblas participate. In July it is traditional and famous for its Medieval and Cherry Festival. In January, on the Sunday following San Antón, the Feast of the Slaughter of the Pig is celebrated, with the consequent tasting of the products derived from this animal.
The inhabitants of Covarrubias are known by the gentilicio de racheles, the locality itself is known as villa rachela or villa of beautiful women. Tradition has it that this is due to the fact that when a noble Castilian passed through Covarrubias, he met a beautiful young woman who was so impacted that the piropeo telling her you are a Rachel, comparing her to Jacob Rachel's wife, a biblical character of incomparable beauty.
In the building of the Archive of the Overtaking of Castilla, on its main façade, a large coat of arms that Felipe II ordered to be made to decorate one of the façades of El Escorial draws attention, but when he went to place it was realized that the coat of arms did not represent all the territories of the empire, so the king decided that the new location for this colossal emblem would be the Archive of Covarrubias.
Legend has it that in the tower of Fernán González, better known by the people as the tower of Doña Urraca, is walled this unfortunate young woman who, in love with a local shepherd, refused to marry the prince of León, for which her father punished her and locked her up in him so that she could reflect. Some say that Doña Urraca, in order to avoid this punishment and be able to see her beloved, used an underground and secret passage that communicated the tower with some house in the village and others comment that still today the ghost of the lover has been seen wandering around the tower.
Covarrubias are reached by several roads such as the BU-901 and BU-905 from Cuevas de San Clemente and Hortigüela respectively, both on the N-234 that joins Burgos and Soria. Other possibilities are the BU-904 that reaches Covarrubias from the town of Lerma on the A-1 between Burgos and Madrid, or also by the BU-901 but in the other direction that connects Santo Domingo de Silos with Covarrubias.
Covarrubias has a bus service that connects it with Burgos. For further information the telephone number is 947 485 266.
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