Valderredible, a rock art paradise

Few cities and municipalities in Spain can give themselves the privilege of having cave architecture. The town of Valderredible, south of Cantabria, several examples of different typologies of rock art are spread with several churches and hermitages. Due to this fact the area of ​​Valderredible has been sometimes called “Iberian Cappadocia”. In fact, this Cantabrian municipality from 2017 celebrates Cave Architecture Day on 8 of July, with the aim of making the culture and art of the valley more visible and closer to citizens.

This phenomenon of cave architecture was born due to the existence of sandstone rock together with the ease with which this stone is drilled. Throughout this area of ​​the upper Ebro, a good number of anchorites who reproduced a Christianity that had previously developed in the deserts of Egypt were installed.. In Valderredible there are several examples of rock art that we are going to detail below.

Hermitage of Arroyuelos

Hermitage of Arroyuelos
Hermitage of Arroyuelos

It is accessed through the CA-275 road that connects Polientes with Escalada (Burgos), taking the detour in front of San Martín de Elines. The nucleus is located on the left bank of the Ebro, on an outcrop of sandstone rock and overlooking the páramo de la Lora from the front. The place name seems to refer to the "place of the small streams". It appears as Ruyuelos in the Calf of the Behetrías de 1350 and as Arroyuelos from the end of the 16th century (Council Ordinances, 1595).

It consists of two plants with development in height. In the lower one, the ultrasemicircular apse and the contra-apse stand out. In the Arroyuelos style, the characteristics of Mozarabic architecture are clearly appreciated in the systematic use of the horseshoe arch, in plan and elevation, and in the complication of excavated spaces, which allows a clearer dating than in the rest of the hypogean constructions of Valderredible, around the 10th century.

Cadalso cave church

Cadalso cave church
Cadalso cave church

It is located in Cadalso, Valderredible, Cantabria. The cave church of Cadalso is located on the land of the town of Ruerrero, and it is the only cave church, next to the church of Santa María de Valverde, that remains open to worship. It stands out for its simplicity, It is small and has a single nave with a rectangular plan roofed with an irregular barrel vault.. It is accessed through a portico with an upper arch. It has two windows, one rounded and one rectangular.

On the outside of the rock, In its upper part there are two tombs dug in stone, and probably among the vegetation you can find some more.

Formerly on top of the cave church a small bell tower was located on a ledge carved on the stone of the entrance. Later in the years 70 a reform was made and the small bell tower was moved a few meters from the church.

Santa Maria de Valverde

Santa Maria de Valverde

The best option to get to know the rock art of the valley is to travel it from the west. After visiting the caves of El Cuevatón and Peña Horadada, in San Andrés de Valdelomar and San Martín de Valdelomar, respectively, where presumably communities of hermits settled, Santa María de Valverde is reached (and the cave architecture interpretation center). Known as the cathedral of cave churches, incorporates a Romanesque belfry and a medieval necropolis. The temple, where services are held on a regular basis, It has two naves and has a carving of Mary breastfeeding her child, one of the few that survived the destruction decreed by the Council of Trent in 1564.

Semirupestre hermitage, built in a cave partially closed on one side by ashlars. It consists of a single plant formed by a rectangular nave and a quadrangular apse, separated by a semicircular arch, all carved in the rock.

It consists of a single nave, elongated rectangular plan with a protrusion in the middle of the roof. An irregular semicircular triumphal arch gives access through two steps to the quadrangular headboard covered with an imperfectly realized oven vault.. The flat door, located south, it is remodeled with ashlars. On both sides of it two openings open: one is factory with lintel, plus the other is carved out of the rock. The floor of the hermitage is rocky with some patches of slabs. It is perceived that a part of the pavement was removed in an effort to find "treasures".

But in this valley of Valderredible there are more rock architectures such as the Rupestrian Hermitages of the “Tobazo” in Villaescusa de Ebro, the Necropolis of “Saint Pantaleon” in La Puente del Valle, Hermitic complex of the “Cuevaton” in San Andrés de Valdelomar or the Hermitages of “Peña Castrejón” Y “Peña Horacada” in San Martín de Valdelomar. Interesting cave routes to stop along the way and visit the magnificent restaurant scorching Cantabria on the road to Polientes. This Cantabrian restaurant has grilled meat specialties made with organic coconut shell charcoal.

Valderredible Valley, an odyssey nature and romanticism in Cantabria

Valderredible Valley It is located in the same municipality, It is the largest and meriodional of Cantabria, covering almost 300 km square. This valley bordered to the north Valdreprado River, east and southeast with Burgos and the west and southwest Palencia. Runs the river Ebro, hence it is cataloged for many each the most beautiful landscapes in Cantabria, because they are numerous romantic enclaves and rock churches with lots of history.

That is why the most romantic chosen this valley both their nature and their routes. Its curious name comes from the early medieval Valley Ripa Ibre, that is to say, the valley of the Ebro, which it is the main protagonist of the geographical area.

Another photo of the Valley of Valderredible in Cantabria
Another photo of the Valley of Valderredible in Cantabria

It is a wide about depression 30 kilometers long from west to east, traveled by Ebro and some tributaries like the Mardancho or Panero, and perfectly bounded to the south by the natural step that leads to the Paramo de la Lora, and this for a similar paramera, of Bricia. Separating the two moors, the Ebro He has dug spectacular sickles to continue their long road to Mediterranean, this being the beginning of the grandiose canyons of northern Burgos.

The relief of Valderredible is otherwise fairly smooth, with mountains that surpass the 1.200 accidentan meters and most of the town, while the broad valley floor is around the 700 meters, with an average elevation slightly lower than neighboring valleys of Campoo, Valdeolea and northern Palencia. It is a peculiar landscape, very different from the rest of Cantabria and more like the immediate burgaleses valleys. The richness of the valley should, according to experts, to human settlements in this area concentrated from the earliest times. Even, since the Middle Ages Romanesque churches were built, as the church of San Martin, back in the twelfth century, still remains of the old Moorish arches church cemetery. This church is one of the greatest exponents of Romanesque architecture in Cantabria

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Romanesque collegiate church of San Martin de Elines
Romanesque collegiate church of San Martin de Elines

In the full tour of the Ebro valley, between Valderredible and the Valdeola you can be found different monuments: Rock Church of San Acisclo and Santa Victoria Arroyuelos, Romanesque church of San Juan Bautista de Villanueva de la Nía, Romanesque church of Santa Leocadia of Castrillo de Valdelomar, cave church of Santa Maria de Valverde, cave church of Saints Justo and Pastor of Olleros de Pisuerga, Romanesque church of Santa Maria de Retortillo, Romanesque church of Santa María la Real de Las Henestrosas of Quintanillas.

Romanesque church of Santa Leocadia of Castrillo de Valdelomar
Romanesque church of Santa Leocadia of Castrillo de Valdelomar
Romanesque church of San Juan Bautista de Villanueva de la Nía
Romanesque church of San Juan Bautista de Villanueva de la Nía
Rock Church of San Acisclo and Santa Victoria Arroyuelos
Rock Church of San Acisclo and Santa Victoria Arroyuelos

Despite the wealth of the valley, but nevertheless, the relative closeness to the country has caused many of his former neighbors and descendants have settled their village homes to spend weekends and especially, Summer holidays, when the valley attends a genuine resurrection, with festivities in many towns. Thus, Although the valley has been almost depopulated, at least have preserved houses and villages have not been abandoned as in other regions of Spain.

in full High Middle Ages arosechurches cave of Arroyuelos, Campo de Ebro and Santa María de Valverde, of Moorish style and repopulation. InRuanales we can admire an engraving faliforme Bronze Age (recorded large phallus on a rock two meters Tall) and the “coat Rocky Cogular“, which also it belongs to the age of Bronze and presents schematic paintings in black and red, with little men and arborescent, besides equestrian figures.

ROUTES

In this valley there are several affordable routes for during Valderredible. However, there is one that stand out from the rest for its beauty and ease to complete them. The walk from Polientes to the town of San Martin de Elines, where the famous Romanesque Collegiate Church of San Martin de Elines, one of the most important monuments of the valley.

It is a very comfortable way part after pass a cattle ship, from Arenillas de Ebro reaching up towards Villota. There is to go straight and do not choose the road on the left that crosses the Ebro. A few meters later, at turn on the right, leave this road and enter left into another asphalted road, which leads directly toSaint Martin de Elines. Act continued, It will reach the village of Ruerrero, which it is distinguished by its tower medieval town built in full.

Finally face a fork of tracks: front it follows the eastern neighborhoodSaint Martin de Elines. But we are interested in the westernmost neighborhood, where you are the wonderfulCollegiate Church of San Martin de Elines.

All these villages that passed it is advisable to make a stop to admire its history and beauty Valley landscape offered another perspective.

GASTRONOMY

Potatoes and mushrooms are the most important products of the gastronomy of Valderredible. Potato cultivation is abundant here, with a small production but of extraordinary quality. In Scorching Cantabria it is always a burning restaurant so you can stop for lunch or dinner on your roadmap to the valley and thus recharge forces and enjoy exquisite cuisine with specialties in grilled meats.

scorching Cantabria
scorching Cantabria