It is located in the province of Burgos, on the border with Cantabria, between Valderredible and Escalada and belongs to the municipality of Valle de Sedano. The history and origin of Orbaneja de Castillo go back to its caves. The Niésparo cave, located a few metres above the bed of the Ebro and the Horca Menor stream, is known to have been occupied several times, one of them in the Epipalaeolithic period; in the Azar cave remains of cave art have been found. The origin of the present town goes back to the Middle Ages and in the Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together, the memory of its aljama remains in the name of some of its streets. One of the branches of the Way to Saint James passed through this place, which, as was to be expected, was protected by the order of the Templars and for the protection and help of the pilgrims they built a hospital in San Albín. Nowadays, some old stone buildings and oral tradition place it in the unpopulated place known as Santo Albín. It could be that in Orbaneja there was also a castle, hence its name, or perhaps the Karstic formations of its surroundings that resemble the ruins of glorious buildings. The Catholic Monarchs gave it the title of villa. It formed part of the diocese of Santander, in the archpriesthood of Cejancas, together with other villages in this area.
The town of Orbaneja del Castillo has been considered a Historic Site since 1993. Among its narrow and steep streets, there is a rich popular mountain-style architecture, the most outstanding of which is the 14th-century house of the Dogs, named after the seven Romanesque corbels reused in its eaves; on a rocky breakwater, at the foot of the fountain, in the Main Square, there is a strong house that may have belonged to the Marquises of Aguilar. The House of the Poor, a former hospital in the 16th century, has a beautiful wooden portico and an elegant tuff stone framework. It remained in operation until the 19th century and was administered by a family that gave lodging and food to the walkers. The parish church is of Romanesque origin although it has undergone numerous reforms.
But if something characterizes Orbaneja del Castillo is its karstic landscape shaped by the water, so it is not surprising that the largest space, within the core, corresponds to the mouth of the Cave of Water making it the almost absolute protagonist of the environment, from it a stream that crosses the town and then precipitate into spectacular waterfalls staggered towards the Ebro that runs next to it embedded by its own canyon. From the village you can climb a steep path to reach a natural cornice from which to admire the great landscape of the canyon of the Ebro, in this limestone cliff of rocks with fantastic shapes perhaps the eye of the visitor seeks and finds the silhouette of Africa. The cave of the Water can be visited with guide during the summer and the weekends for it it is necessary to call to the telephone number 947 150 103 of the office of tourism of Sedano. The combination of these beautiful natural sites and the popular taste of Orbaneja del Castillo have made it a picturesque enclave.
Orbaneja del Castillo celebrates San Tirso on the day of Pentecost and the first Sunday in August are the summer festivals.
Tradition has it that when the day came, at five o'clock in the afternoon, the animals were desestabulaban to go up to graze free to the mountain. On their way, the first thing they encountered was the stream, from which they drank. Then every fifteen days the shepherds went down to some animal to sell it and on the day of Santiago there was a fair in which the buyers went by the houses and the corrals to choose the animals that most interested them.
In Orbaneja del Castillo traditionally, the fields are located in the upper moor above the village known as las eras. Next to the eras a series of stone huts, built without any type of mortar, of circular or square plant and with false covers, served to keep the implements for the threshing and the beldado of the grain at the same time that was the place where to be able to shelter in case of storm because according to the locals for here the storms do not come alone but accompanied by some stones of hail as big as cobblestones.
Orbaneja del Castillo can be reached via the BU-643 road that connects it with Villaescusa de Ebro, already in neighbouring Cantabria, on one side and on the other with Escalada and there with the N-623 that links Burgos with Santander.
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