Ponferrada is the capital of the Leon region of El Bierzo and a city with a lot of history. Its historical center is of Cultural Interest and reaches a magnificent castle founded by the Templars. It also constitutes one of the initial stages of the Camino de Santiago as it passes through the province of León.
Ponferrada is strategically located on a hill above the convergence of the Sil and Boeza rivers. It is the second largest city in the province and its exceptional location has meant that throughout history different towns and cultures have been established here that have left their mark on the character of the city and its surroundings.
Its name is due to the iron bridge that is located on the river Sil: Pons Ferrata. This bridge dates from 1802 and its purpose was to give way to the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago. The capital of El Bierzo is a city full of life. It is the economic and cultural engine of the area and an excellent starting point to meet the beautiful region of Bercia.
Ponferrada includes the historic center and the new city. Both areas are well distinguished from each other: in the old town the historical monuments are concentrated, while in the New City there are all the services and shops. As for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, you will find them throughout the city. Let's see their sites of interest.
Templar CastleCastle - Migel
The castle of the Knights Templar is one of the most emblematic symbols of Ponferrada. It began to be built in the twelfth century and the building we see today dates from the fifteenth century. The Order of the Temple was installed in Ponferrada in 1178, in order to protect the walkers who were going to Santiago de Compostela. His presence lasted until the year 1312.
The castle is located on the river Sil, presiding over the historic center of the city. It is a medieval fortress, polygonal, which is accessed by its south side through a drawbridge over the pit. The main facade is surrounded by two towers linked by a double semicircular arch. It has a large interior patio that has various rooms around it.
The church of San AndrésSt. Andrew's Church - Trevor Huxham / Flcikr.com
This baroque church is located at the foot of the castle. Its construction is from the end of the 17th century. It has a baroque style altarpiece and keeps the Christ of the Fortress (Christ of the Templars), which was taken there from the chapel of the castle. In this Ponferradian church there are also some impressive steps of Holy Week.
The Basilica of the EncinaPlaza Mayor and Basilica of the Encina - Luis Angel Sánchez Gil / Flickr.com
The Basilica of the Encina is located in the Plaza de la Encina and is one of the most prominent religious buildings in the city. It was built in 1573 in Renaissance style and it has a tower of later construction, of baroque style. The basilica welcomes the Virgen de la Encina, patron of the city of Ponferrada and El Bierzo.
Tradition tells that The size of the Virgen de la Encina was found by the Templars themselves in the hollow of an oak. Inside, in addition to the size of the Virgin, some altarpieces can be admired, among which the one of the main altar, made by Mateo Flores in the 17th century.
Clock TowerClock Tower - José Luis Filpo Cabana / commons.wikimedia.org
The Clock Tower is located on the street of the same name. This street was an old medieval wall entrance to the city. It was built under the command of Carlos I in the 16th century.
This place has important historical buildings. To the left of the Clock Tower is the convent of the Concepcionistas Mothers. On the right we find the old jail of the villa built in 1565, which currently includes the facilities of the Museum of El Bierzo.
El Bierzo Museum
The Bierzo Museum, as we indicated, is located in the building of the old prison. It exhibits much of the historical legacy of Ponferrada and its regionthrough objects, tools and various works of art.
It has a wide collection of objects ranging from the lower Palaeolithic to the end of the Roman era. There is a valuable collection of sculptures, paintings and pieces of goldsmiths from the Middle Ages.
"History ... witness of the times, light of truth, life of memory, teacher of life, witness of antiquity."
A walk through Ponferrada is worth it. Visit its places of interest and know this historic and wonderful city.