Soria – back at the Duero to visit the unparalleled cloister

On May 17th, Friday, we drive to Zaragoza with a stop in Soria. We are slowly heading eastward. In Soria, we want to visit the cloister of the Monastery San Juan de Duero.

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In Soria we are back at the Duero 

We have been at the Duero in Zamora and we have driven along it through the vineyards of the Ribera del Duero. Now, in Soria, we are back at the Duero and close to its origin, in the mountain range called “Sistema Ibérico” (Atlas geográfico, Esther Carrión Fernandez et alii, Ediciones SM Madrid).  In Soria the Duero is much smaller than in Zamora. Also Soria has its historic bridge from the 12th century, which has been rebuilt over the years.

We were in Soria a year ago, in May 2018. Like Zamora, Soria has layed out a path along the banks of the Duero that I loved to stroll along then, watched by the curious white dog.

In the city center, we found a relaxed atmosphere in May 2018. The inhabitants celebrate Saint John’s Eve all May and June. They played music in the streets and I was invited to drink wine from a leather pouch – well, I thanked, but did not dare try that.

Our hotel was at the Plaza de Oliva.

This is the Plaza Mayor with the ayuntamento and the Fountain of the Lions.

Soria hosts cultural heritage such as the Romanesque San Nicolás church – unfortunately in ruins.

The Renaissance Palace de los Condes de Gómara from the 16th century is impressive.

This is the Concathedral San Pedro, somewhat lost in a meadow. Its origins are Romanesque, and it has been refurbished again and again.

San Pedro or Petrus sits above the gate, with the keys in his hands.

In the past, Soria experienced dramatic events: As a Celto-Iberic settling it resisted the Romans for a century. Just before being conquered, they all committed suicide to avoid becoming Roman slaves. From the 8th century up to 1134, the city was ruled by the Muslims. Having become Christian again, Soria flourished, thanks to the wool industry, a capable Jewish community and the support of the Castilian king. The decline started in the 15th century, when the unified crown of Castilia and Aragón lost interest in Soria and when the Jews had to be exiled. The city suffered again and again, in the wars around 1700 and 1800.

Today, Soria is a quiet town that mainly belongs to the people of Soria. They have started to promote their touristic potential.

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The Monasterio San Juan de Duero with the unparalleled cloister

The most impressive attraction of Soria is the Monasterio San Juan de Duero. A year ago, it was closed, and we took fotos from outside with the city of Soria in the background.

Now we returned after having carefully checked that the cloister is open. The cloister was built in Romanesque style in the beginnings of the 13th century, but Romanesque was interpreted here, as I have never seen it  before. It is a mixture of Romanesque and Muslim elements. The arches dance and in the corners they become horseshoes.

The severe Romanesque forms on the left turn into swirling, elegant forms on the right.

Have you ever seen such Romanesque architecture?

It is just magnificent, what we can achieve across cultures and beliefs, when coming together.

I would wish more of that happened today.

Next to the amazing cloister we enter the small Romanesque church…

… with its sculptured capitals.

It was great to see Soria again, in particular the gorgeous cloister San Juan.

Now we will continue our way eastward leaving the Duero behind us, crossing the mountain range of the Sistema Ibérico and switching to the valley of the Ebro. We intend to spend one night in Zaragoza.

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