Ciudad Rodrigo might be lesser known to the outside world, but the moment you pass the surrounding wall you discover a beautiful medieval town
20km from the border with Portugal on Aqueda river, Ciudad Rodrigo sits on a 650 rocky rise on one of the river banks. A star-shaped battlement is surrounding the old town like trying to protect a treasure confined within its walls. There is a treasure that is protected by the wall but there are not jewels or money or gold but the rich architectural inheritance that can be seen on the facades of every building in town. many beautiful palaces seemed to be concentrated here in this small town. This makes you wonder, how this magnificent town appeared here in the middle of nowhere.
The history of Ciudad Rodrigo might not be much different from that of Trujillo or Caceres. Same as Trujillo or Caceres people were living in the area since Neolithic. People in those times were following the routes of animal migrations and also people were migrating from north of the Iberian Peninsula to south to Seville. This route was named in Roman time Via de la Plata, The Platinum Route. The interesting thing is that one of the routes leading pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela is following Via de la Plata as well. The Celts were the one who established a town here for the first time and centuries later was conquered by the Romans. The Arab invasion of the peninsula brought for Ciudad Rodrigo centuries of instability. Because of its strategic position was constantly disputed by the Arabs and Christians. That`s why at 1100 it had to repopulated by the count Rodrigo Gonzales Giron.
The 12th century marks the rebirth of Ciudad Rodrigo. The town`s walls and the castle were built and the Roman bridge rebuilt. Also, the Saint Mary Cathedral building begin and took few centuries to complete. Because it took so long to be completed the styles were mixed but this gave birth to a beautiful facade but also the choir area is stunning. The choir area is in Plateresque style and the intricate decorations and pagan themes are astounding. That was my favourite area but in my opinion, all the Iberian Cathedral I have seen from either in Portugal or Spain seem to tell stories and those stories are carved in the intricate patterns that are decorating the walls and the windows or facades.
Although the old town is small if you want to send the night within its walls there are options. Not only the luxurious Parador hotel which is always placed in historical buildings but also mid-range hotels. I have stayed at Arcos and I absolutely loved to be in the heart of the city to walk the streets after sunset to see how the night is falling over and to absorb the architectural beauty of the numerous palazzos dotting the town. Also, the walk on the walls was so romantic.
There are probably more things to discover about Ciudad Rodrigo, sadly, I haven’t stayed there long enough. I am happy I have seen it though because the more I travel around the Iberian Peninsula I am finding it more intriguing and I discover that I do not know it at all..
There is one thing I can do…and this is to keep on travelling through the Iberian Peninsula...