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Friday, 20 December 2013

El Camino Levante - Day 12 Arévalo to Medina Del Campo

Well today started off interestingly!  Wet, windy and a bit wild, but we were ready to go and wrapped up.  The dog jackets at the ready and then... where is the path?  Well, for those who are following on behind me - beware!  This part of the Camino is not at all as outlined in either the guide or on the maps!  I was very grateful on such a day that I had the back up vehicle - because we found the arrows as directed to the industrial estate and then they continued along a tar road, and on and on and on along the tar road... and not turning toward the village of Tornadizos de Arévalo as suggested.  I therefore thought it might be a different camino or a cycle route and we decided to scout the area by car.  Having started in the dark (all the darker due to the clouds and rain) it a dull light started as we searched initially with headlights and then by early daylight.  We drove back and forth and then headed out along a dirt lane - as outlined on the map and the original route - and although we ended up in Tornadizos, there were no arrows in sight!  The route seems to have changed to be entirely along the tar to the next village of Palacios de Goda (Akina and I in our wet and cold weather gear pictured below) and in the end, that is where we started officially on the route.  

Dressed for the rain and wind - the first time my waterproof trousers have made an appearance... gosh that
brings back humorous memories from Duke of Edinburgh Award days - private joke! 

We did follow the mapped route although it is no longer marked with arrows - so if you do want to follow it from Tornadizos to Palacio, you will be able to do so.  The route is clear and there are no blocks or private signs, so it is passable, but it is not marked as El Camino...  The first part from Arévalo and the industrial estate is still along the tarred road and you will have to take a left turn up to Tornadizos - but at least it means you can walk more off road than the currently arrow marked route.  I have posted a photo of the map below and marked with my own black and arrowed route where the official yellow painted arrows take you if you follow those.

The wild and windy way
Akina totally untroubled
by her jacket - she can run just
as fast!
The guidebook is correct but a bit confusing as it says to "pass" the village of Tornadizos... so it does take you along the tar road, however, what is should say is "pass the sign" to the village of Tornadizos! It then says that the road will go off to the left after about 2km and this will take us to Palacios.  However, as I said, you "can" walk it on a nicer track - but you will have to navigate yourself by looking at the google map or working out the roads on your map rather than following the guidebook or the yellow marked guidebook route.

Akina in Honquilana
Adobe brick houses
Once on the right track - so to speak (!) the way was glorious and open and "windy"!  There was tumbleweed blowing across the fields and Akina thought it was great fun to race after them as they looked like animals to chase.  It was a good test for her dog coat and it works perfectly - it did not shift position or restrict her movement in any way.  I was so delighted as this had been my biggest worry, that it would keep them warm, but restrict movement and thus there fun!  There was a place on route called Honquilana which did not exist on the google maps and when we found it - it hardly existed in real life!  An amazing dead village that was once all adobe buildings - you could see the intricacies of the little bricks that had been made with clay and straw, but now abandoned, the rain and weather is eating them away.

I was very grateful for our coffee break and warmed myself, hands around a mug and a wonderful bocadillo to add strength for the next leg.  Kaishi came with me on this and it was the weirdest thing.  We were walking below pylons and as I reached out to touch her I got a shock - as did she!  I thought maybe it was her jacket, but I tried it later without that and it was the same.  Three times I touched her and three times we tingled in shock - and quite a sharp one too.  As we passed from under the electric lines, no shocks - back under - shocks.  All this was due to the rain, as doing it in the dry (as I later experimented) did not yield the same effect.  I can't say this is a scientific experiment - but it had me wondering how those who say living under pylons has no effect can argue this - because there certainly "is" some effect - whether that's harmful or otherwise I do not know, but it in the rain it is certainly enough to give an electric shock of dog fur!!!!  Just before the next village we met a rather large and rather dead snake - looking at the time remarkably lifelike until we got close!  It was the flat front third where a tyre had gone over him (or her) that gave it away - poor snake.

The enormous arrows of San
Vicente de Palacio
As we entered San Vicente de Palacio, we were nearing the end of our trek for the day.  This is a place with strangely huge arrows!  Some taking up whole curb stones!  They converged from two different directions so I guessed another one of the caminos passes or joins here - the Sur Este?

Evening at the "camp" site
From here it was a short walk to the main highway.  Our track ran next to it along a sand path, and through some rather dodgy looking areas with some interesting signs painted on the walls - rather threatening ones at that!  We decided at this point to take our "ox wagon" into Medina del Campo and bypass walking onto the main and busy highway at the end of what could have been a very long walk today if we hadn't had the diversions and corrections to do and which we had made with the vehicle.  As you enter the town, Hotel San Roque is at the entrance of the town.  It looks a little run down but might have been more welcoming than the one I chose (!)  It also means you finish walking a little earlier in the day.  I had chosen the Hostal El Orensano who had seemed friendly on the phone, but at 28 Euros with unfriendly service on arrival and a severe "no" to paying extra for Michael to use the bathroom, I was not impressed.  Even less so when the key to my room did not work - having hiked up several flights of stairs with Camino tired legs.  I had to go back and they huffed and puffed as a lady came to see what was up.  She just moaned and pointed and kept saying the same thing over and over about the key - but I could not open it (note she did not try herself?!) and then she opened up a different room with another key she had brought.  It was freezing and the heating (as usual) was not on - but the beds had thick blankets and the bathroom ran VERY hot water - so it made up for it!  I needed this as the waterproof trousers - however good at keeping out rain, also keep "in" perspiration!  Warm when wearing them, the moment you take them off you get very cold!  However, they were perfect for the walk.  As a note to other pilgrims, do remember to buy them several sizes "too big" because I was very glad of it when trying to put them on (and sometimes off) in the windy and wet weather as being large and with zipped bottoms I could do so over not only just all my extra warm clothes, but without having to take my walking shoes off - very happy!

After curling up in bed to get warm for a few hours and sleeping off the long walk, I met Michael who had managed to find a lovely woodland out of town (after quite a bit of searching) where he could really let the dogs run and play.  Initially there was the odd cyclist and bicycle rider, but once the end of the afternoon rush had gone by they could have some chill out time and a private stay over night.

Plenty of room to run and play - all together
We headed into the centre of town which initially had appeared rather insalubrious but on closer inspection revealed a very old town, and in fact the place of Isabella Catolica's death and where she wrote her last will and testament.  The main square was delightful with a lovely old ayunatmiento, next to Isabella's palace apartments.  We wished we had known about this gem as we might have chosen to take a tourist day and explore more.  The palace gave tourist tours and it was a shame to miss out on that.  We did however find a number of restaurants that seemed to be serving rather inviting menu del dias and decided upon one serving rabbit.  And wow - it was one of the most delicious dishes of the trip and if you are in the main square, check out the restaurant and see if they are serving their rabbit and lentil dishes.  It was such a find and yet had not looked much from outside.  The service was friendly and welcoming and the other patrons were also friendly - asking us if we liked soccer as there was a match on and they wanted the TV on - which was no problem and we had a bit of a banter for a moment.  The restaurant was the "Restaurante Gloria" and it can be found on the Plaza Mayor, 27, Medina del Campo. or call them on 983 801 006.

Wikipedia on Medina del Campo:  Now a very important historical site in Spain

Medina del Campo gained much importance for its Fairs during the 15th century and 16th century. The main purpose of the early fairs was banking, wool and textile sales, the book market and an enormous variety of goods and trades. As the population grew, the town was developed towards the plain of Zapardiel brook. Since then, thePadilla Street became the business centre of Medina.
In 1489 a great trade agreement, that would last for 96 years, united the kingdoms of Spain and England with the reduction of trade tariffs, the recognition of France as a common enemy, and the marriage of Catherine of Aragonto King Henry VII's son, Prince Arthur (and later to King Henry VIII) - this was known as the Treaty of Medina del Campo (1489).
Between the 17th century and the 19th century decline set in; but the town took off again at the end of the 19th century, thanks to the arrival of the railway, the opening of the military district (the quarter of Marques de la Ensenada), and the opening of the hydrothermal establishment of Las Salinas. Also adding to the growth were the strong commercial sector, such as the furniture trade or the opening of shops on Sundays (which is not customary in Spain), and finally proximity of quality wines with the Denominación de Origen of Rueda.

Almost all the buildings of artistic interest date from the 16th century; examples are the country house known as Casa Blanca, the Palacio de Dueñas (Don Rodrigo de Dueñas Manor House) and the Hospital of Simón Ruiz. These buildings were promoted by rich merchant bankers who prospered thanks to the General Fair of the Spanish Kingdom held in Medina del Campo during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Museum of the Fairs was created to exhibit items connected to this open market, and it is a popular visitor attraction.
The word "Medina" which means "city" in Arabic (Arabicالمدينة‎. Medina del Campo was founded on the hill called La Mota in the 11th century, in the same place where the Castle is, and remains of a wall still survive. At the moment, the Mota hill is a suburban area, however in the Middle Ages it was the town centre.
In addition, this hill has archaeological remains such as a stronghold, a medieval village and a Celtic walled settlement dated from 4th century BC (Iron Age).

Castle of La Mota[edit]

Front view of Castle of La Mota.
The word Mota refers to an artificial mountain built to defend the castle better. The Mota fortress had a military function and it also was a royal dungeon, among its most notorious prisoners being Cesare Borgia. The castle was built between the 12th century and 15th century. It has a moat with its own drawbridge (today fixed), an outercurtain wall (for artillery), an inner curtain wall (with arrow slits for archers and guards) surrounding a large courtyard(with a chapel), and a great square tower (which is the Keep).
The castle was abandoned and collapsed, but was restored after the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). It was the first monumental building in Medina designated as a Heritage Site (Bien de interés cultural).


Medina was a walled village, and its stronghold was a very important building around the town to protect the people from attacks. The walls date from the 11th century, and they were enlarged three times, as the population was growing. At present, there are only remains.

St. Michael's Church[edit]

This church was built beside the wall gate of the old town, opposite the original city hall, which no longer exists. Probably, its entrance hall was the meeting point of the council.
Route changes through to Medina del Campo
The oldest part of the church is of MudéjarGothic style; but was renovated several times. The greater chapel has large dimensions, with Gothic ribbed vault roof and an interesting altarpiece dated from the 16th century.
In the choir, which is in the west facade, we can admire the magnificent baroque organ, dated from the 18th century, a recently restored masterpiece.

Las Reales Carniceríash[edit]

This is an ancient market-hall, in Spanish called Mercado de Abastos, on the left bank of the Zapardiel brook, was built under the Catholic Monarchs in 1500 inRenaissance style. Later, in the reign of Philip II, it was used for the sale of meat to the population. It is the only historic building of this type in the world still used for its original purpose.

La Calle Padilla (Padilla Street)[edit]

This lane connects the Main Square with St. Michael's Bridge (also called Puente de las Cadenas). This street was named in honour of Don Juan de Padilla, a communard leader of the Castilians in the 16th century (see Castilian War of the Communities); but earlier was named "Rúa Nueva" (New Road). Padilla Street was the downtown area where numerous banks and jewellery shops settled, and actually some of them still mains.
Whereas the financiers settled in Padilla Street, the other merchants were distributed in the Main Square according to Ordenanzas de Feriantes (Lodging Ordinances).

La Casa del Peso (The House of Pounds)[edit]

This building stands in the Main Square and is built over five elegant arcades with long balcony. It was established in 17th Century in order to keep the "Peso Real"(Royal Weight) and to guarantee the official weights and measures.

Royal Palace[edit]

This mansion was the residence of the royal family in the time of Fairs. In this palace many historical incidents happened during the 14th and 15th Centuries. The most important episode was the will and death of Isabel la Católica (Queen of Castile), 26 November 1504 (for this reason it is also called Palacio Testamentario,Testamentary Palace).
The Palace was started in the 14th century and was enlarged both by Don Fernando de Antequera (Lord of Medina del Campo and, afterwards, King of Aragon), as well as by the Reyes Católicos. It was restored three times, in 1601, 1603 and 1673. It was at one time much larger than the present-day building.

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