It is located at the top of a hill in Sierra Ministra, in the province of Soria, watching over the landscape and the confluence of the Arbujuelo and Jalón valleys. The first known inhabitants of Medinaceli were the Celtiberians, who called it Ocilis. The Romans, back in 153 BC, gave it the name Mediolum and several testimonies remain from their passage through it: walls, roads, mosaics, salt pans and the symbol of the city, the Roman Arch. The Medina Celima or Medina Salim of the Arabs had during the 8th to 12th centuries a great geostrategic importance. The King of Aragon, Alfonso I the Batallador conquered the city and the surrounding territories definitively around the year 1123.
Soon Medinaceli became Castilian at the hands of King Alfonso VII who granted it privileges to govern freely in the service of the king and this was so until Enrique II, in gratitude for the services rendered, donated it as a county to Bernal de Bearne. The Catholic Kings transformed the county into a duchy, which became one of the most important of the time. The Dukes of Medinaceli, 16th century, had an immense power and Medinaceli lived a period of cultural and architectural splendour. During the Spanish War of Independence, the Emperor put up resistance from here to the Napoleonic troops. At the fall of the Old Regime the town became a constitutional municipality in the region of Castilla la Vieja. Medinaceli is the historic capital of the region of Tierra de Medinaceli and has been declared a Historic-Artistic Site.
In Medinaceli there are two areas, the Medinaceli Station and the Medinaceli located on the historic hill, the medieval city, the Historic-Artistic Ensemble, in which, welcoming the visitor to this important place in the life of El Cid, the triple-arched Roman arch, The Arch of Medinaceli, built between the first and third centuries after Christ, a triumphal arch and one of the access gates to the town, from which there is a wide panoramic view of the Arbujuelo and Jalón valleys, is the first to be shown, recalling its long years of splendour and glory. Visible are also the reconstructed remains of the castle of Medinaceli which, reinforcing the defences of the town was located taking advantage of the Arab citadel, was built in the fourteenth century by the Counts of Medinaceli who used it as a residence until they moved to the Ducal Palace, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which along with the Alhóndiga, sixteenth century, formerly dedicated to trade and council and later City Hall, escort the porticoed Main Square, located on the site of the former Roman forum.
Under the floor of San Pedro Square are the remains of a Roman house from the first to the second century A.D. The mosaics found here along with those found in St. Gil's Square are displayed in one of the rooms of the Doge's Palace. From the years of splendour of the duchy we can also admire the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria, from the 16th century in late Gothic style and built on top of a Romanesque church, one of the twelve existing in the year 1196, of which a crypt has been preserved under the main altar; or the convent of the Poor Clares of Santa Isabel, founded in 1528, the only one that survives of the four that the town had, and which is attached to the church of San Martín, of Romanesque origin although extensively restored in the 18th century. The entire enclosure where Medinaceli is located was walled and of these canvases remains in which remains of very different styles have been found since the Celtiberian foundations on which the Romans built, the reconstruction of the Arabs, as well as in 1128 Alfonso VII restored them again.
Continuing with the visit, we can see the Arab door, also called the Market Gate, one of the four doors of the primitive Roman camp, which was another of the accesses to the town, especially on fair days. The hermitage of Blessed Julián de San Agustín was built between 1841 and 1845 at the expense of the villagers, in the same place where his birthplace was located and where a small chapel had previously been built. To the north of the town we can admire a medieval snowdrift very possibly from the Arab period although it was built in a Jewish quarter and the Beaterio de San Román-Sinagoga, a building of dubious origin and which has had different functions throughout its history, could have been a mosque with the Arabs, a synagogue as it was located in the Jewish quarter, a parish up to 1558 and later hosted a community of wealthy nuns with flexible rules of community life, from then on it was known as the Beaterio and later until the first half of the 20th century it was occupied by the Hieronymite nuns. Hiking lovers, besides enjoying this beautiful village, can complete their visit with the various routes of the Iberian Trail Soriano GR-86 that pass through here and are duly signposted and explained in information panels and tourist brochures.
Medinaceli celebrates its patrons the Holy Bodies, five men martyred in North Africa, Pascasio, Probo, Eutiquiano, Paulino and Arcadio, whose bodies legendarily reached Medinaceli on November 11 and Blessed Julian on August 28.
Medinaceli, with centuries of history in which different cultures have coexisted, is a place of deep-rooted and ancestral traditions, one of which is the one that year after year is organized during the celebrations of the Holy Bodies in which a soldiers composed of the troop, the captain, the ensign and the sergeant accompany, throwing bursts of honor, a child that represents San Paulino, one of the martyrs of the Holy Bodies that are venerated in Medinaceli. And how these relics came to be in the town has left several legends and some of them have given rise to popular songs "I have seen an ox fly in the depths of the sea, and a tower crawl, and a donkey peel potatoes".
Medinaceli has a network of labyrinthine and narrow streets through which to walk, in some of them, with arms extended in a cross, is to touch the walls on both sides. There is also some theory that the Roman arch was built to separate two convents, administrative districts, the Cesaraugustan and the Cluniense.
We hear the local people telling how once there were two villages in the area and that while the locals lived together in harmony their warlords, Medin and Celin, were in continuous war. One day in one of their innumerable confrontations Medín killed Celín. Those of the town governed by the dead warlord then decided to move and join with the settlers led by Medín and the new town thus formed was called Medinaceli.
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Medinaceli can be reached from Soria on the A-15, while the A-2 motorway links it to Alcolea del Pinar and Madrid on the one hand and to Arcos de Jalón and Zaragoza on the other. Once there, from the Medinaceli Station district, following the local SO-132 road, we can go up to the historic centre of Medinaceli. This same road connects the city with the town of Barahona, among others.
Medinaceli's bus stop is located in Avda. de Madrid and regular services connect it with Barcelona, Zaragoza, Madrid, Soria, Logroño, Tudela and other towns and cities along the route.
Medinaceli has a train station where trains with medium distance service stop on their regional routes.
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