The ExileSoria - Burgos - Guadalajara
The Exile: cycling tourism along minor roads. Follow the steps of El Cid around the old Kingdom of Castile
- Route: From Vivar to Atienza
- Provinces: Burgos, Soria, Guadalajara
- Kilometres: Approx. 362 km.
- Days recommended: 7 days (6 nights) including the prologue stage of Vivar del Cid - Burgos (12 km), during which you will be able to visit the capital city of the province of Burgos.
- Difficulty: Low.
This route is ideal for road cycling tourism: great variety, not many slopes and, in general, along minor roads with little or no traffic. But anyway, remember to ride carefully. Small distractions can be dangerous.
Information you can download on this page
- The PDF guide for tourist cycling on roads, including maps, type of road, kilometres and crossings, etc.
- The tracks on the route in GPX, KMZ and TRK format.
- List of accommodation.
- List of points for obtaining and stamping the Letter of safe conduct.
- List of tourist information offices.
- Tourist brochure (this can be obtained at any of the tourist information offices on the route). Only available in Spanish
Remember that you can obtain more information about each route at the tourist information offices on the Way of El Cid, including brochures and the Letter of safe conduct.
Plot: follow the steps of El Cid
In general, this section follows the early days of El Cid's exile as told in the Poem of The Cid, although it also includes other passages from the poem, such as the Afrenta de Corpes. El Cid, exiled, leaves Vivar with a handful of knights ordered by the king to leave Castile in nine days, a term El Cid uses to leave his daughters and his wife in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña, stock up on ammunition and stores and increase his small group of loyal followers by enlisting new knights and soldiers.
Although El Cid leaves Castile via the Pela Mountain Range, today on the border between Soria and Guadalajara (a mountain range that stood as the natural border in 1081 between the Christian kingdom of Castile and the Islamic kingdom of Toledo), our route ends at the next important town in Andalusia: the historical town of Atienza, an Arabic military site on the border and of great importance in the 10th and 11th centuries. This journey to exile is combined with the famous episode of the Afrenta de Corpes narrated in the Poem, where El Cid's daughters are abused and abandoned by their husbands. Traditionally, academics have placed this legendary event in Castillejo de Robledo.
On this route you will see a large part of the essence of Castile, one of the most important kingdoms of Spain in the Middle Ages. The countryside alternates with dry cropland in the valleys of the Rivers Arlanza and Duero with juniper, oak and pine forests and flat land and moors. The route crosses six natural areas protected by the Natura 2000 Networking Programme, including the juniper forest in the valley of El Arlanza and La Yecla (a limestone cliff as you leave Silos and next to the road, well worth a visit) and the area around the River Duero in Soria, which is of great environmental importance, but which was also geographically and politically important in the Middle Ages since it was the natural border between Castile and Al Andalus. This importance can be seen in the many lookout posts and castles that mark out this unique area between Langa de Duero and Berlanga de Duero, whose emblem is the huge caliphal fortress of Gormaz, once governed by El Cid.
You will pass by two of the large foundational monasteries of Castile: that of San Pedro de Cardeña and that of Silos, and very close to that of Arlanza (8 km from Covarrubias), and you will visit mythical places that form part of the history of El Cid, including Vivar del Cid, San Pedro de Cardeña, Castillejo de Robledo and San Esteban de Gormaz, among others. Of course, the route also includes Burgos, the city of El Cid par excellence, with good infrastructures for cycling tourists and excellent monuments with its Gothic cathedral at the top of the list, declared a World Heritage Site. On the route, you will also come across many examples of Romanesque architecture in the fascinating cloister of Santo Domingo de Silos, the paintings in the shrine of San Miguel in Gormaz, the churches of San Esteban de Gormaz and in many other villages that have examples of the so-called rural Romanesque style, which is very humble but highly suggestive and evocative. This section is also predominated by small, quiet villages, some of which have maintained their medieval 'aroma' and are of recognised interest, such as Covarrubias, Santo Domingo de Silos, Langa de Duero, San Esteban de Gormaz, El Burgo de Osma, Berlanga de Duero and, of course, at the end of this route, in Guadalajara, the impregnable Atienza, all of which have been declared Historical and/or Artistic Sites.
Special mention must be made of the Visigothic Hermitage of Quintanilla de las Viñas, which dates from the seventh century and is located under the Castle of Lara, in the desolated, imposing lands of Tierra de Lara.
In Santo Domingo de Silos the road route differs from the hiking route, although both routes come back together 50 km further on in Alcubilla de Avellaneda, in Soria. This small section has a few surprises: the first is Caleruega, the hometown of the founder of the Dominican Order, with a Romanesque church and medieval tower. From Caleruega we set off for Peñalba de Castro, which is home to the archaeological digs of the Roman town of Clunia. Today, the site can be visited and it was one of the large imperial towns of Roman Hispania.
El Cid and culinary delights
As far as gastronomy is concerned, on this route you must remember to try the famous black pudding of Burgos, a reference in traditional Burgos cuisine, which is based on heavy stews, such as olla podrida, and roast baby lamb, dishes you can also try in Soria and Guadalajara. The journey through Soria, a paradise for wild mushroom enthusiasts, will provide travellers, especially when they are in season, with succulent surprises made with saffron milk cap, cep, king trumpet mushrooms, amanita, mushrooms and truffles, which are gaining in popularity at tables in Soria, together with game stews (roe deer, venison and wild boar). As far as fish dishes are concerned, trout and cod cooked in many different ways are typical in all three provinces. Although there are other designations of origin, such as that of Arlanza, the most typical wines on this route come from Ribera del Duero and are recognised internationally. Finally, we recommend rounding off this culinary adventure with some of the region's typical deserts, including Burgos cheese served with walnuts and honey or any of the many sweets and biscuits made with butter from Soria.
Scenic or Singular roads
The term ‘Scenic Road' on the Way of El Cid is used for the sections of road that are of particular importance for cycling tourists or because of the countryside, history or artistic heritage. This route has the following Unique Roads:
- BU 911 between Santo Domingo de Silos and Espinosa de Cervera (10 km). Burgos
The road sets off from the town of Silos, whose monastery has a world-famous Romanesque cloister, and crosses the natural area of the juniper forests of El Arlanza, with a stop-off in La Yecla, a narrow limestone gorge with high walls used as a nesting ground by a good number of birds of prey. The section ends, after a gentle downhill, in Espinosa de Cervera, a small village with a beautiful example of the rural Romanesque style. The road surface is good and there is not a lot of traffic.
- SO 4228 and SO 4126 between Navapalos and Gormaz (15 km). Soria
Crossing the River Duero near Navapalos and coming across this small village, so closely associated with the Poem, watched over by a solitary Islamic lookout post, is an exciting experience. We leave it and continue to a short but entertaining climb with fantastic views over the plains of the River Duero (protected natural area), where we arrive after a downhill section and see among the tops of the poplars, ash and willows, the huge caliphal fortress of Gormaz and the Romanesque Shrine of San Miguel. The views from the castle are highly recommended. The road has very little traffic. Cycling tourists will work up a bit of a sweat, but they will really enjoy the experience.
The roads are signposted at crossings and strategic places. The roads are easily followed: they are minor roads with little traffic, although some of them do not have a hard shoulder and the road surface is uneven, which may be uncomfortable for bikes with thin tyres. For greater convenience, we recommend you take the cycling tourist route guides and the track.
Tips and recommendations
- Length of the stages: it is best for each one to decide their own stages according to their strengths and personal preferences. Some people place the emphasis on doing exercise, others on the cultural side of the route and others on the simple pleasure of taking in the countryside and locations. The stages we suggest are a combination of all three and have been designed for average tourists cycling under stable weather conditions to enjoy the route without too much stress.
- Travel safely and unhurriedly: take the tracks and route guide with you.
- Food and spares. One of the main advantages of the Way of El Cid is that it runs through very attractive places with few inhabitants: many of the villages are very small and they do not have food stores. Unless you have planned to eat in a bar or restaurant, it is very important to take some food with you (sandwiches, nuts, energy bars, etc.) in case you can't find anywhere to eat or buy food. Also remember to take water with you. In most of the villages, there are drinking fountains: remember to refill your water bottles before setting off again. The same applies for spare parts: remember to take a repair kit with you and the more complete it is, the greater your peace of mind will be. Welcome to the Middle Ages.
- Book your accommodation in advance. You are about to travel through one of the areas with the lowest population density in Europe. Some villages are very small and have limited infrastructures. Book your accommodation at the end of the stage in advance and if you change where you plan to finish the route, check that there is accommodation available there.
- Don't forget your helmet: it is compulsory for adults to wear helmets on roads outside cities and for under 16s it is compulsory at all times.
- Get your Letter of safe conduct. The Letter of Safe Conduct is a personalised 'passport' you can have stamped at many towns and villages on the Way of El Cid. You can use it to get discounts of at least 10% in more than 200 places of accommodation and benefit from special offers. It is free and you can apply for it at any of the more than 70 tourist information offices on the route or at the Way of El Cid Consortium.
- Your literary guide. You might think it's unnecessary weight, but for many it is essential: don't forget to take with you a copy of the Poem of The Cid; you will be able to recreate some of its passages on site. If your Old Spanish is not so good, take a modern version!
How to get there… and get back
To see how to get to Vivar del Cid, click on the information about the municipality. Normally, it is best to get to Burgos, which has a railway station, bus and coach station and airport. For information about the transport available in Burgos, click on the information about the municipality.
From Atienza, you can return to your place of origin by coach. For more information, click on the information about the municipality.
Rev. JGG 02.08.16