It is located on a rocky space at the confluence of the rivers Sil and Boeza, at the eastern end of the plain of Bierzo. It is known from archaeological remains that these lands were inhabited in prehistoric, pre-Roman and Roman times. But the origin of the nucleus that gave way to the current Ponferrada is to be sought towards the tenth century and the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Around the beds of the two rivers, the Baeza and the Sil, and their two bridges, two population centres emerged, Pombaeza with the church and the hospital of San Nicolás and Ponsferrata with the hospital of San Juan and the church of San Pedro. It was Bishop Osmundo who, at the end of the 11th century, ordered the construction of the bridge over the Sil, whose iron railings give it the name of Pons Ferratus, so that pilgrims would have it easier to cross.
In the 12th century the knights of the Temple decided to build a castle on a promontory between these two burghs, where the churches of San Andrés and Santa María de la Plaza were also built. This enclosure, surrounded by a wall, will make people take refuge under its shelter and protection, making it grow and prosper, reaching its greatest splendor around the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. With the dissolution of the Order of the Temple in Spain, this fortress fell into the hands of nobles and feudal lords. With the Catholic Monarchs Ponferrada became a royal villa depending directly on the monarchs. Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries were built in the town notable and important buildings. In the year 1908 King Alfonso XIII granted Ponferrada the title of City, in addition to the exploitation of discovered mining wealth and industrial growth, Ponferrada had a significant population increase, coming to agglutinate under its council to nearby towns and villages that became important districts of the city but without losing their identity and character, such as Campo, Compostilla or Cuatrovientos ... among many others.
When you get to Ponferrada the first thing you want to see is, what has become almost its hallmark, the Castle of the Templars, which is located in the upper part dominates and guards the town, its construction began around 1178 being rebuilt, remodeled and expanded over the centuries, today is one of the most interesting fortresses in Spain and is declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. There is a building attached to the wall of the Castle that was the stables and today is the headquarters of the Office of Information and Tourism. The square of the Encina houses the Renaissance building of the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, begun to build in the sixteenth century, the main altarpiece is presided over by the image of the patron saint of Bierzo, the Virgen de la Encina.
The Clock Street and the Eras Arch, the only gate in the medieval wall that survives the passage of time and that supports the Clock Tower, give way to the Town Hall Square, also known as the Eras Square, whose shape was consolidated in the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Tower was also built. The town hall is a beautiful baroque building. The Royal Prison, now the Bierzo Museum, the house of the Shields, now occupied by the Radio Museum or the house of the Macias, are remnants, in the form of architecture, of the history and grandeur of the city. In the old station you can find the Railway Museum and the National Museum of the Energies or The Factory of light, it is an old thermal power station in which the visitor is shown how electricity was produced from the coal, and where the cultural leisure and the scientific popularization go hand in hand. But Ponferrada, between history, culture and art, also offers an exquisite and typical Bierzo gastronomy. Contrasting with the colour of the stone is the green of its beautiful parks and gardens, although the true lung of the city is Mount Pajariel, in its neighbourhoods there are green areas for rest and recreation.
The best known parks are the Plantation, the Temple, the Concordia and the West. Strolling through Ponferrada we will visit some of its neighbourhoods, Campo, whose primitive nucleus was in the area known as El Castro, and which from its late Roman period still has a fountain or cistern, shows in the Royal Street, which forms part of the medieval route of the French Way, houses with coats of arms and in the centre of the village there is a hermitage, something curious because the parish church, which is dedicated to San Blas and dates from the 17th century, is situated on the outskirts on a hill. De Compostilla, which is the oldest settlement in Ponferrada and which later developed in an important way thanks to the installation of the first thermal power station in Spain, draws attention to the modern church built on an old hermitage and under the same title as this one, Nuestra Señora del Refugio (Our Lady of Refuge). In Cuatrovientos, located to the northwest of the municipality, you can enjoy its parks, the one in the west that joins it to the Rosaleda neighbourhood or the one of Pablo Picasso. All this is a small sample of what Ponferrada offers to the avid visitor.
Ponferrada honours its patron saint the Virgen de la Encina on 8 September and the following day 9 the Encinina is celebrated, the festivities last for several days. Numerous fairs are held in the city throughout the year: books, wine, ceramics, folklore, handicrafts, gastronomy, medieval market... We must not forget the Holy Week in Ponferrada, which has been declared of National Tourist Interest. In addition, celebrations are also held in its different neighbourhoods, in Cuatrovientos its patron saint is San José Obrero on 1 May, in Campo, San Blas is honoured on 3 February and in Compostilla it is traditional to celebrate the bonfires on the night of San Juan from 23 to 24 June and to celebrate the Magosto in autumn.
Following tradition, the Medieval Market is held in Ponferrada, which coincides with the celebrations of the Templar Night. In the first days of July the Middle Ages come back to life in the city and above all in its old town, the Knights Templar and the ladies of the town walk their best clothes, buy in the stalls where the merchants have exhibited their crafts, their richest cloths and silks or the precious products that the earth has given.
For some years now, Radio Week has been celebrated in Ponferrada, where in April and for a week the activities related to this means of communication flood the city.
In a city where the Temple had so much power and importance, it is not surprising that its memory endures, not only in history, but also in traditions and legends, and that it is remembered through the years. For that reason in Ponferrada in the Templar Night they recreate an important medieval fact protagonized, among other characters, by the Master of the Templars Frey Guido de Garda who at the front of his knights arrives to the city with the symbols and relics that they found in Holy Land, the Ark of the Alliance and the Holy Grail. There, in the castle is sealed the commitment, between the Templar Order and the ponferradinos, to guard these two very important and sought after symbols of the Christianity and the Master says to them thus: "I, Guido de Garda, Master of the fortress of Ponsferrata, commit myself to all the people of Ponferrada so that every year it returns to renew this festive commitment with its history and its legend until the time arrives to erase the line of the horizon".
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Ponferrada can be reached via the A-6 or the N-VI national road, which links Madrid and La Coruña. We can also do it by the national N-120 which route links Logroño and Vigo with Orense, in turn the N-536 joins Ponferrada with Las Médulas and the Region of Valdeorras. The regional and provincial roads such as the CL-631 connects it with Villablino, the LE-142 which connects it with Astorga through the Foncebadón port, the LE-711 connects it with Cabañas Raras, Sancedo, Vega de Espinareda and Fabero, or the LE-713 connects Ponferrada with Cacabelos and Villafranca del Bierzo.
From Ponferrada bus station, which is located on the Libertad Avenue 15, there are regional services to Toral de los Vados, Carracedelo, Bembibre, Villafranca del Bierzo ..., in addition to those that communicate with other important cities and capitals such as Leon, Salamanca, Madrid, Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña ... The station's telephone number is 987 401 065.
Ponferrada also has a train station located on RailwayAvenue 9, which connects it with Vigo, La Coruña, Zaragoza, Madrid and Barcelona. The telephone number for further information is 987 410 067.
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8:05 h.28 km.
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