Geographical location

/why Bierzo/Geographical location

"Ello es, figúrese el lector. De un lado la extensa muralla que forman las abruptas y verdosas vertientes de las dos Cabreras, alta y baja, cuyas elevadas cimas tocan á las nubes; del otro opuesto, las no menos elevadas de las Babias y la Ciana, de la Fornella y de Ancares, y del otro por remate, ó testero, la encumbrada sierra divisoria entre Bierzo y Galicia; y, dentro de ese perímetro, así constituido por los caprichos de la Naturaleza, calculado en unas ocho leguas de longitud, con otras tantas de latitud;"

Tierra

The region of Bierzo is located in Spain, in the northwestern tip of the autonomous community of Castile and Leon.

It borders at the north with the autonomous community of Asturias and the region of Laciana (Leon), at the west with the autonomous commnity of Galicia (Lugo and Orense), at the south with the region of La Cabrera and at the east with the regions of Omaña and Maragatería (both in Leon).
It occupies an area of 3,178 square km and it is made up by 375 villages grouped into 375 municipalities.
España
The altitudes in the region range from 400 metres to 2,133 metres ( Valdeiglesias peak). Bierzo is surrounded by mountain ranges, such as Caurel mountains in the west, Ancares mountains (Natural heritage) in the North, Gistredo mountains in the east and Aquilianos mountains in the south.
Fitted valleys of abrupt hillsides contrast with wide fertile meadows and basins of prosperous agriculture. Rivers with drops of 1,500 metres to spill its water to the river Sil (tributary of the river Miño) in the center of Bierzo.
Temperatures in Bierzo are mild , it is influenced by the different climates in the Iberian peninsula such as, mediterranean, continental and oceanic.
The average annual temperature is about 12.4ºC and the average temperature in summer is about 22ºC. The mountains surrounding the area protects it from extreme temperatures in winter and they also retain the freshness of its rivers in summer.
La maja. It is one of the hardest labour in agriculture.It is very important because it will provide with food and hay for roofs for the rest of the year. It begins after the harvest and the transport of the grain. This procces is made by hitting the mayo to extract the valuable grain. It is important not to break or grind the hay.
Are you travelling to Bierzo? Look up what to do.

Climate

/Why Bierzo?/Climate

"Rodéanlo praderas y huertas llenas las más de higueras y toda clase de frutales y las otras cercadas de frescos chopos y álamos blancos. El río le proporciona riego abundante y fertiliza aquella tierra en que la naturaleza parece haber derramado una de sus más dulces sonrisas."

Soto ; A chestnut forest. There are lots of them which bloom in may and june.
Would you like walking through this landscapes? Discover your favourite routes in our search engine.

History

/Why Bierzo?/History

Pre-Roman period

  • Lower Palaeolithic period (Middle Acheulean): 300,000 B.C. Several lithic pieces were found in the river Cúa terraces between Cacabelos and Quilós and in El Parral Roman site in San Román de Bembibre. The human presence is thought to be Homo Heidelbergensis.

  • Middle and Upper Paleolithic period: Any discoveries found.

  • Epipaleolithic and Mesolithic periods: Microliths and bone remains were found in A Veiga do Muín site in Cabeza de Campo.

  • Neolithic period: Polished stone axes were found in Candín, Paradasolana, Molinaseca, Cabañas Raras, Carucedo, Corbón del Sil and Ponferrada.

  • Chalcolithic period: (2500-1800 B.C). Several pieces are preserved in the Bierzo Museum such as: ceramics and bone and lithic materials. They were found in the Tres Ventanas cave in Toral de los Vados.
    People can also visit the Peña Piñera cave paintings after 40 minutes trekking near Sésamo.
    You can also visit the cave paintings in a site in Librán.
  • Bronze Age: ( 1800- 700 B.C). Due to the climate change during the second millennium, settlers ran away to higher regions, such as the mountains of Bierzo.

  • Early Iron Age : (550-19 B.C). The Castros ( Celtic settlements) were the most important feature of this culture such as the Castro de Chano (Fornela Valley), the Castro Corona del Cerco (Borrenes), el Castrelín of San Juan de Paluezas (near Las Médulas) or the castro of Ponferrada (inside the Templars´Castle ).
Castros They were housings located in high areas. They were placed near the rivers, streams or natural paths. They range from 35 metres to 425 ( Castro Ventosa), being 100 metres the most common size.
Do you want to see a Castro? Access the resource finder.

Roman Period

Vacceans, Cantabrians, Astures, Autrigones and Turmagos inhabited the Iberian peninsula. The Cantabrian Wars could be caused by Romans to extract the abundant gold.
Bierzo became an important center of exploitation of gold, so that there are lots of sites and Castros around the shire ( Las Médulas, La Leitosa, Castropodame, los Cáscaros de Pradela, etc.)

The Bronze of Bembibre, ( In Museo del Alto Bierzo ) gives us important information about Romans in Bierzo where the “Transduriana province” is mentioned and Paemeiobrigenses and Allobriagiacecinos were identified as settlers.
Romanisation involves important changes in the region, the settlers were obliged to come back to the plains, so that most castros were abandoned.
Bierzo belonged the conventus Asturicencis, appearing as an authentic mining district, with more than 150 mining castros.

La vía VXIII y la vía XIX fueron las más importantes (verdaderas autopistas de la época). The route XVIIIth and the route XIX were the most important (real highways of this period). The population of Castro Ventosa moved to The Edrada (former castro), which changed its name to Bergidum Flavium.
In 74 A.D. Vespasiano conceded the Ius Latii Minus. It was important since the cities could turn into Latin municipalities, for example, Bergidum Flavium (area of Cacabelos ) e Interamnium Flavium (area of Bembibre).
Other vicus or settlements exist in plains and castros, which were in charge of the extensive network of Roman Channels built in the region.
Domus It is a replica of a upper- class family home, which belonged to the attorney of this region who was the protector of the auriferous exploitation of Marrows. You can visit it in The Roman Domus of The Marrows.

Visigoths and Saracens

"Todos fueron en el campo de sus armas guarnidos tanniendo annafyles e dando alarydos ...
Prendían a los cristianos e mandávanlos cocer... por tal que les podiesen mayor miedo meter."

Suevo Kingdom 409-585 The arrival of three Germanic tribes (Alans, Vandals and Suevi),to the Iberian peninsula and the abandonment of the auriferous exploitations in the III century made the Suevi to settle in the region until the integration in the Visigothic Kingdom during the second half of the 6th century.
During that time, the shire was called Bergio and it was considered as a mint, when it was named parish of the Diocese of Astorga.

Visigothic Kingdom 585-711 It was considered as an administrative entity called bergidense.
The Visigothic monasticism was represented by the monasteries of Justo and Pastor in Compludo, the Rufian monastery (restored some centuries later as San Pedro de Montes monastery , and the Visigoth monastery, near Sobrado.
Nowadays, numerous Germanic toponyms exist in Bierzo.

Muslim invasion and their integration in the Astur-leonés Kingdom 711-910 The Iberian peninsula was invaded by the Muslims in the 8th century. But the its presence in Bierzo was mayfly and precarious. The battle of Burbia took place between muslim troops and the troops of Bermudo I. Bierzo was integrated in the Kingdom of Asturias between the end of the 8th century and the first half of the following century, during the Alfonso II reign (791- 842) and Ramiro reign ( 842- 850). Surge a su vez los denominados topónimos de repoblación, con el florecimiento de núcleos de población con el nombre de Bercianos en el resto de la provincia de León y Zamora.

Colinas del Campo de Martín Moro Toledano Martín Moro, the captain of the Almanzor Army and his troops, were defeated at the hands of Ramiro II troops.
"El otro, que por su cuerpo ligeramente encorvado y por la menor soltura de sus movimientos, parecía un poco más anciano, era sin duda un templario, pues llevaba la cruz encarnada en el manto blanco y en el escudo los dos caballeros montados en un mismo caballo, que eran las armas de la orden. A bastante distancia de estos dos personajes caminaban como hasta quince o veinte hombre de armas también con las divisas del Temple." Gil y Carrasco

The hamlets. 9th and 10th centuries During this time, there were more than 37 monastic places in Bierzo, such as San Pedro de Montes, San Andrés de Vega de Espinareda and Santa María de Carracedo which formed the well- known Tebaida berciana, in the Valleys of Oza and Montes, around the monasteries.

The origin of the villas, 12th and 13th centuries Grapevines predominate in the lowlands and livestock farming in the mountains.
The Military Orders of Santiago, Temple and Hospital were divided into three estates: oratores, bellatores and laboratores.
In 1178, the Templars settled in Bierzo, according to an order by Fernando II, King of León.
In the 12th century,after the feudalization, Bierzo was divided into smaller politic units called Tenencias (governed by Tenentes), which extended over the village and its alfoz.

Late Middle Ages, 14th and 15th centuries. Bierzo lived in a climate of social conflictivity. It should be noted the irmandiñas riots in which took part the Count of Lemos.

The former regime, between 16th and 18th centuries. The Marquisate of Villafranca became stronger. The consumption growth caused a industrial revolution.
The main industrial activities were the textile industry, producing 30,000 varas of canvas, mostly linen; and the foundries (mostly hydraulic) and forges which can be visited nowadays.

"Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem, frustra vigilat qui custodit eam." If the Sir doesn´t save the town, in vain does the sentinel keep vigil.
"Los peregrinos (...), que de paso por Compostela pisaban nuestro suelo, se enamoraron de él; les sedujo el Bergidum de los romanos, y como el sitio era delicioso en él descansaban de las fatigas de tan larga peregrinación; pero no satisfechos con esto, fundaron una hospedería, a esta primera se fueron agregando otras."

Contemporary Era, 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Milestones: The disentailment, the suppression of the primogeniture and the abolition of the tithes.
  • Railway: In the half of the 19th century the works of the railway began in Bierzo.
  • Mining industry: Height of the mining industry of the iron and coal.
  • Energy: In 1949 Endesa opened the thermal power station of Compostilla I, turned today into the National Museum of the Energy.
  • St. James´Way: It was declared World Heritage in 1993.

21st century

Alternatives to the mining industry during the first years of the 21st century are the production of slate for roofs and the rural tourism, which main characteristics are the preservation and improvement of the traditional architecture, the respect of its traditional culture as well as the proffesional training in rural areas.

The Codex Calixtinus The Codex Calixtinus is a manuscript of the middle of the 12th century preserved in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It consists of five books. In the fifth one along ten chapters, it is guide for pilgrims, containing some advice, descriptions of the route and artworks, as well as local customs

Traditions

/Why Bierzo?/Traditions

"Allí mismo me dieron la nota del examen: verás, no vengas el domingo que a lo mejor voy a un magosto con unas primas de Sorribas. Tú dame las señas y no vengas, no vengas hasta que yo te escriba."

Magosto When the autumn is coming, the magosto is a typical tradition in Bierzo. It is a date in which neighbours, friends and family gather round the bonfire where chestnuts are roasted inside a drum in constant movement to prevent the chestnuts from burning.Later, potatoes and chorizos are roasted on the embers.
Would you like take part in our traditions? There are lots of festivals throughout the year.

Gastronomy

/Why Bierzo?/Gastronomy

"Rodéanlo praderas y huertas llenas las más de higueras y toda clase de frutales y las otras cercadas de frescos chopos y álamos blancos. El río le proporciona riego abundante y fertiliza aquella tierra en que la naturaleza parece haber derramado una de sus más dulces sonrisas."

The Bercian wines have its own personality. They have the flavour of the cultivated soil, with particular characteristics which can be tasted when sharing a glass of wine. You can choose between different types of wines such as rosé wine, young red wine, crianza, reserve wine and premium reserve wine. . Wine varieties:
  • Mencía
  • Garnacha tintoreta
  • Godello
  • Doña blanca
  • Palomino
Its quality, flavour and nutritional properties make it a very special fruit and very beneficial for the organism.
The Reineta apple of Bierzo has 5 times more Vitamin C than anyone else.
It is distinguished specially by its Russeling, specific tones that distinguish it from other types of Reineta apples
Moreover, it is characterised by its crunchiness, sweetness, acidity and the colour of its meat.
The Conferencia Pear of Bierzo is a very juicy, sweet, fresh and tasty fruit. Children and adults can enjoy it because its beneficial nutritional properties.
It is a source of calcium, fibre, potasium, iron, iodine and vitamins B1, B2, B6, C and E. Its consumption reduces cellular aging and it regulates the proper functioning of the kidneys and the digestive system.
One of the most characteristic property of the Conferencia Pear is its intensive natural russeling, what makes its skin has a rusty appearance and green tones.
Carbohydrates make up half of the composition of the chestnut. This makes it a very energetic food for sportspeople and people who need extra energy to bear the coldness in autumn and winter.
It is also rich in Vitamin B, potasium and iron. Potasium helps the body to control hypertension and control concentration of liquids. On the other hand, iron contributes to the production of haemoglobin.
We can comsume chestnuts in many different ways, specially in form of flour for celiac people as it doesn´t contain gluten.
Temperatures in Bierzo are mild , it is influenced by the different climates in the Iberian peninsula such as, mediterranean, continental and oceanic. Peppers are selected by the which controls all the factors that will influence on its high quality.
A strict quality control checks the land where they grow which has to be Franco type and with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0. They are collect manually at just the right time.
It is a meat product that has remained in the popular culture as a emblematic sausage.
The Botillo is boiled in a pot over low heat. For instance, a 1 kilo botillo must be cooked for about 2 hours. Cabbage must be added 45 minutes before the end. Finally, potatoes and chorizo are added 15 minutes after adding the cabbage.
HoneycombHoneycomb

Apple pie.Apple pie..

Botillo of Bierzo.
Botillo of Bierzo
CabbageCabbage

Conferencia pearConferencia pear

CherryCherry

WalnutWalnut

TomatoTomato

AppleApple

StrawberryStrawberry

OnionOnion

Chorizo curingChorizos.

Curing
GastronomíaBotillo.

Curing in a Palloza.
Sawhorse (of kitchen). Wooden structure consisting on three beams ( two wider and a narrower one used to join the other two). It was used to hang up objects over the fire in the middle of the kitchen.
Would you like tasting this culinary delights? Find magical places in which you can taste this products.

Its village

Maranfallos , it is celebrated in Carnival time. The Maranfallos were people dressed up in old clothes, leaves of different plants and a mask. They walked through the villages throwing ash to the people and spreading fat on the people´s faces. Later in the afternoon, Maranfallos asked for food: eggs, chorizos potatoes, wine, etc. At nightfall, they celebrated a brotherhood dinner.
Do you know the name of any village in Bierzo? Find it using the village search engine.

Maps & guides

/Why Bierzo?/Maps & guides

Tourist map of Bierzo
Tourist map of Bierzo
2015 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo
Map of Las Médulas
Map of Las Médulas
2015 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo
Mapa of St. James'Wa
Map of St. James'Way
2015 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo
Mapa of the Roman Canals
Mapa of the Roman Canals
2015 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo

Romantic route year
Romantic route year
2015 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo
Guide of Bierzo
Guide of Bierzo
2014 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo
Routes of the Roman Canals
Routes of the Roman Canals
2014 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo
Guide of Médulas
Guide of Médulas
2015 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo

Las Médulas
Las Médulas
2014 Patronato de Turismo del Bierzo






Braña. It is a meadow where cows stayed when they were not good for working. They stayed there during summer and all the neighbours in the village took care of them.