Spain

History of the Camino de Santiago

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The route known as the Camino de Santiago is neither a road nor a highway. It’s a walkway trod by travelers of all kinds for more than 2,000 years. Christians have traveled it for nearly 1,300 years.

Much of the route described in a 900-year old guidebook is still in use today. Some of it wends its way over the remains of pavement laid down by the Romans two millennia ago. It’s a route that writer James Michener—no stranger to world travel—calls “the finest journey in Spain, and one of two or three in the world.” He did it three times and mentions passing “through landscapes of exquisite beauty.” The European Union has designated it a European Heritage Route.

Christians are attracted to this remote corner of Europe because of a legend that Santiago de Compostela is the burial place of the apostle James the Greater. As such, it ranks along with Rome and Jerusalem as one of Christendom’s great pilgrim destinations.

The Camino de Santiago has its origins in pre-Christian times when people of the Celtic/Iberian tribes made their way from the interior to land’s end on the Atlantic coast of Galicia. For them, watching the sun set over the endless waters was a spiritual experience. As part of their conquest of Europe, the Romans occupied Iberia by 200 B.C. They built infrastructure, including a road from Bordeaux in modern France to Astorga in northwest Spain, to mine the area’s gold and silver. Some of the original road remains on today’s Camino.

When the apostles spread out across the known world to preach the Christian gospel, tradition has it that James the Greater came to Galicia. On returning to Palestine he was beheaded by Herod, becoming the first apostolic martyr. A legend that has persisted for 2,000 years claims that his followers took his body back to Galicia, where it was buried inland.

By the 12th and 13th centuries, half a million pilgrims made their way to and across northern Spain and back each year. Local kings and clergy built hospitals, hostels, roads and bridges to accommodate them. The Knights Templar patrolled the Camino, providing protection, places of hospitality, healing and worship, as well as a banking system that became one source of their fabled wealth.

Among the historical figures who made the pilgrimage to Santiago are Charlemagne, Roldan, Francis of Assisi, Dante Alighieri and Rodrigo Diaz (El Cid, Spain’s great epic hero). In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer tells us that the Wife of Bath had been to Santiago. Not all were enamored of it, however. In the 1500s, Sir Francis Drake, who did more than his share of harassing the imperial Spanish, referred to Santiago as “that center of pernicious superstition.”

A combination of the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment and European wars gradually suppressed the Camino. In the 17th century Louis XIV of France forbade his subjects from going to Santiago in order to stop trade with Spain. The Camino fell into disfavor but was never abandoned.

Now, after centuries of slumber, the Camino is alive with upward of 100,000 pilgrims—and growing—yearly.

in magazine.nd.edu

The Mysterious Stories of Castle Ponferrada: Knights Templar, the Camino de Santiago and the lost Sword of Jacques de Molay

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Every pilgrim who is traveling along the French route of the Camino de Santiago, going to Santiago de Compostela, will pass through the Ponferrada in the Spanish section. Most of them have no idea that centuries ago along the same route passed the legendary Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Templar Order.

Did they travel in their famous armors? I don’t think so. It is more likely that they wore comfortable clothes, similarly to other pilgrims of their times. Just imagine, the famous Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templar Order, traveling from France to Santiago de Compostela, located in the northwestern part of Spain. The journey was long and perhaps took a few weeks depending on the physical condition of the pilgrim. However, at the end of the route was waiting the majestic Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The primary reason to make this pilgrimage was, and still is, to offer a prayer to the Apostle James the Elder.

The Story of the Monumental Castle

Ponferrada is known due to Castillo de Los Templarios, the Castle of the Templars which is the impressive size of 16000 square meters. Its appearance brings to mind legendary stories about the Spanish knights. A visit to the castle might inspire one to learn about the remarkable Spanish medieval history but also can allow you to travel back through time to a long lost era.

The site was known as a valuable place of defense from at least the Roman period. For centuries this land was covered with gorgeous vineyards and a heartwarming landscape. The castle was built in 1178 AD by Ferdinand II of Leon to protect the pilgrims of Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James).The property belonged to the Knights of the Templar Order. It was confiscated in 1311 when the order faced the cruelest drama among all of the Christian Knight orders. In 1340 it became the property of the Count of Lemos. 146 years later, the King of Spain incorporated the monumental Castle of Ponferrada into the crown.

Although now some defense elements of the construction have been removed, the castle still retains its characteristic style. Currently, the castle is in the process of ongoing restoration. It hosts the Templar’s Library and the Ponferrada Investigation and Study Center. Although many secrets of this place have been told, there  are dozens of stories related to the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago still await revelation. One of the known tales is related to the famous Jacques de Molay, a Grand Master of the Templar Order.

In The Shadow of Camino de Santiago

As mentioned, the existence of the Templar Order and the story of Camino de Santiago were intertwined in medieval times. ”Much of the route described in a 900-year old guidebook is still in use today. Some of it wends its way over the remains of pavement laid down by the Romans two millennia ago. It’s a route that writer James Michener—no stranger to world travel—calls “the finest journey in Spain, and one of two or three in the world.” He did it three times and mentioned passing “through landscapes of exquisite beauty.” The European Union has designated it a European Heritage Route. Christians are attracted to this remote corner of Europe because of a legend that Santiago de Compostela is the burial place of the apostle James the Greater. As such, it ranks along with Rome and Jerusalem as one of Christendom’s great pilgrim destinations. The Camino de Santiago has its origins in pre-Christian times when people of the Celtic/Iberian tribes made their way from the interior to land’s end on the Atlantic coast of Galicia. For them, watching the sun set over the endless waters was a spiritual experience. As part of their conquest of Europe, the Romans occupied Iberia by 200 BC. They built infrastructure, including a road from Bordeaux in modern France to Astorga in northwest Spain, to mine the area’s gold and silver. Some of the original road remains on today’s Camino.”

The impressive cultural heritage of the route became a puzzle that created one of the most famous pilgrimage routes in the history of the world. This is where thousands upon thousands of people since early medieval times were traveling hoping for God’s mercy or for many different reasons. Some of the pilgrims traveled there due to the political aspects. In the case of Jacques de Molay, the pilgrimage was caused by the mixture of political and religious reasons. As he was passing through the Camino, he visited the fortresses that belonged to his Order.

The story says that when Jacques de Molay was leaving the Ponferrada Castle and going to the sanctuary, he decided to leave in the chapel his sword as a votive relic.

The Mysterious Missing Sword

The sword of Jacques de Molay is considered a legend. Although from time to time someone starts to repeat the old legend, there are no clues as to what happened to this artifact. If the story about the remarkable Templar relic is real, what happened to this object?  The answer to this is unknown. According to some stories told by the locals, it existed until Franco’s times, but it seems to be unlikely. The times of Franco reduced the number of priceless artifacts in Spain, but perhaps not in this case. The explanations that are much more convincing say that the sword was lost in the medieval period, used during fighting or taken by the cocky local ruler who wanted to look more glamorous wearing the sword of the famous de Molay. It is also possible that the sword is lying somewhere hidden under stones or earth, waiting for the glorious moment when it will be rediscovered.

By Natalia Klimczak in ancient-originas.net

Order of Santiago: The Knights of Spain and Their ‘Holy War’

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The Order of Santiago is a Christian religious-military order of knights that was founded in Spain during the Middle Ages. Like the Templars and Hospitallers, the order was established to protect pilgrims and to fight against the Muslims. Instead of the Holy Land, however, the Order of Santiago carried out their duties in Spain. The order continues to exist today though as a civil association.

One of Four Spanish Military Orders

The Order of Santiago (known also as the Order of Saint James of the Sword) is one of the four Spanish military orders, the other three being the Orders of Calatrava, Alcántara, and Montesa. According to legend the order was founded by Ramiro I, the king of Asturias, during the 9 th century. The king had won a great victory over the Moors during the Battle of Clavijo in 844 AD. This battle had a great impact on Spain’s national identity. For instance, the triumph of the outnumbered Christians was attributed to the apparition of Saint James, thus contributing to his adoption as the patron saint of Spain. Additionally, the site of Santiago de Compostela developed into an important pilgrimage center and the pilgrims were protected by cavalry.

When Was the Order of Santiago Founded?

The Battle of Clavijo, however, is considered by historians to be fictional and therefore the Order of Santiago is very unlikely to have been founded during the 9 th century. Instead, it is generally accepted that the order was established around the middle of the 12 th century. The exact details surrounding the founding of the order, however, are obscure as there are two rival claimants for the honor.

According to one account, the order had been founded by Ferdinand II, the king of León, in 1171. While on his way back to León from Badajoz, the king took control of the city of Cáceres. It was there that he, the bishop of Salamanca, and 13 knights established the Order of the Fratres of Cáceres. In the same year, the order received its first rule from Cardinal Jacinto, the legate of Pope Alexander III in Spain. Pedro Fernández de Castro served as its first grandmaster. De Castro was a veteran warrior who had gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he encountered the Templars and was inspired to establish a similar order in his homeland.

Why Was the Order of Santiago Founded?

In 1173, the Almohads launched an attack on Cáceres to retake the city. Although the city was captured, the knights refused to surrender and continued to fight. After the battle, the knights were decapitated, and their heads displayed as trophies as a warning to the Christians. The remaining members of the order formed an alliance with the regular canons of Saint Augustine (as the knights themselves followed the Rule of Saint Augustine) and were now responsible for protecting the Sepulchre of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela and the pilgrims who journeyed there.

Who Was the Founder of the Order of Santiago?

In the meantime, the knights had lost their patron, as they had been expelled from Cáceres and were not on good terms with Ferdinand II. As a consequence, they began looking for a new patron and found one in Alfonso III, the king of Castille. In 1174 Alfonso III granted the knights the castle and village of Uclés (in Cuenca) which would serve as their new headquarters. Moreover, using his influence, Alfonso III had the pope, Alexander III, issue a bill recognizing the Order of Santiago as a religious order. Therefore, Alfonso III sometimes considered to be the founder of the order, as opposed to Ferdinand II.

The Growth of the Order of Santiago

The Order of Santiago grew rapidly and at its height had more possessions than the two older orders of Calatrava and Alcántara combined. An important turning point in the history of the order occurred in 1499. The Reconquista had been completed by then and Spain was unified under the rule of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. In order to strengthen their own position, the rulers obtained permission from the pope to assign to them the administration of the three major Spanish orders – Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcántara.

The Continuation of the Order of Santiago

The power of the Spanish military orders came to an end during the reign of the Holy Roman emperor Charles V (who ruled the Spanish Empire as Charles I) when the orders were incorporated into the Spanish Crown. Although the orders were united under one government, they still had the right to hold their possessions, titles, and functions separately. Additionally, a Council of Orders was formed to oversee the administration of the orders. Nevertheless, the orders retained their prestige and many figures involved in the conquest and governance of Spain’s possessions in the New World hailed from these orders.

As the Order of Santiago was part of the Spanish Crown it was suppressed in 1873 when Spain declared itself a republic for the first time. After the fall of this republic, the order was re-established though as a nobiliary institute. The order was once more suppressed following the proclamation of the second republic in 1931, which was followed by the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. Democracy was restored in 1976 and with it the monarchy and the Order of Santiago. The order continues to exist till this day.

By Wu Mingren in ancient-origins.net

Abre al público el edificio islámico más completo de Toledo, el Museo Casa del Temple

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El próximo 30 de agosto abrirá al público el Museo Casa del Temple en Toledo, una nueva oferta turística que sumará riqueza patrimonial y que permitirá conocer un Bien de Interés Cultural considerado la casa islámica más completa que existe hoy en día en la ciudad.

Tal y como publica en su cuenta de Facebook el Museo Casa del Temple, el objetivo es convertir este espacio en un centro cultural, en sala de exposiciones, gastrobar y en lugar de eventos. Además, allí se expondrán un conjunto de piezas arqueológicas aparecidas en la casa, otras piezas de colecciones privadas, así como un 3D con el que entender la edificación en su origen.

La actividad expositiva comenzará con una muestra del artista chileno afincado en España Guillermo Muñoz Vera.

La Casa del Temple en Toledo data de los siglos XI-XII, perteneciendo a esta época la estructura general, típicamente andalusí, sustentada por las bóvedas del sótano y organizada en torno al patio. Diversas fuentes coinciden en señalar que el inmueble fue, en tiempos, propiedad de la Orden de los Templarios, a los que probablemente les donase el edificio Alfonso VIII para recabar su apoyo a las diversas campañas militares del monarca.

Enclavada en pleno Casco Histórico, justo al lado de San Miguel el Alto, sus alfarjes fueron restaurados en 2017 por el Consorcio de la ciudad, entrando a formar parte de las rutas del patrimonio desconocido.

Bien de Interés Cultural con la categoría de monumento desde 2002, el patio interior de la planta baja comunica con las cuatro crujías que definen el inmueble. Lo que vemos a nuestro alrededor son un arco de medio punto decorado con yeserías mudéjares y, ojo, el forjado del techo primitivo, que se supone que es anterior a 1109 y con canes labrados en el interior del patio. Y en uno de sus laterales conserva el alfarje con las tabicas originales. A cada lado de esta entrada, dos arcos de herradura apuntados y decorado con finas yeserías.

Ya en el sótano se encuentra un salón con un zócalo decorado con pinturas y que representan arcos entrecruzados, temas vegetales y una cenefa, todo supuestamente anterior a 1109. A lo que hay su añadir la planta primera y el ático.

in encastillalamancha.es

La misteriosa relación de la casa más antigua de Toledo y los templarios

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La casa del Temple, la que podría ser la casa más antigua de Toledo mejor conservada (data de los siglos XI-XII), podrá visitarse este sábado 18 de marzo de forma gratuita, tras la última restauración realizada en los alfarjes de su planta primera, compuestos por vigas «de las más antiguas de España».

La jornada gratuita de puertas abiertas forma parte del programa «Patrimonio desconocido», impulsada por el Consorcio dentro de las actividades organizadas con motivo del 30 Aniversario de Toledo Ciudad Patrimonio de la Humanidad, según ha informado el Ayuntamiento una en nota de prensa. Cada mes se visita y se da a conocer un espacio histórico rehabilitado que normalmente está cerrado al público. El último fue la fuente de Cristina Iglesias en el Convento de Santa Clara.

Rosana Rodríguez, concejala de Turismo, asegura que uno de los objetivos del 30 aniversario es abrir espacios desconocidos para «el disfrute» de los toledanos y también de los turistas y que, gracias a ello, se puede conocer una representación de la arquitectura civil de los siglos XI y XII salvada después de «tantos» siglos de historia. En este caso, la jornada de puertas abiertas se celebrará el sábado 18 de marzo, de 10:00 a 14:00 y de 16:00 a 18:00 horas, en la calle Soledad, número 2.

La cruz de Malta, en una de las ventanas de la Casa Temple
La cruz de Malta, en una de las ventanas de la Casa Temple

El Consorcio ha intervenido para llevar a cabo la restauración de los alfarjes de la planta primera que «no se habían terminado de limpiar y proteger» en la rehabilitación de 1997, en la que parte del artesonado de la Casa del Temple, según ha avanzado el presidente del Consorcio de Toledo, Manuel Santolaya, está compuesto por «vigas de las más antiguas de España».

Santolaya ha explicado que se trata de un «sitio excepcional» que tiene relación con el palacio de la Aljafería de Zaragoza y la iglesia de San Millán de Segovia y que incluso alguna de sus piezas, en concreto una alacena mudéjar, se encuentra en el museo británico.

Detalle de uno de los rincones de la Casa del Temple
Detalle de uno de los rincones de la Casa del Temple– LUNA REVENGA

El propietario de este antiguo palacio islámico, declarado Bien de Interés Cultural, Amador Valdés, ha asegurado que «seguramente es la casa más antigua de Toledo mejor conservada», en la que destacan sus zócalos de pinturas bícromas y sus estructuras de madera, «las mejores conservadas in situ del país», en las que han aparecido policromías que estaban ocultas tras la última restauración.

Casa del Temple
Casa del Temple– LUNA REVENGA

El propietario ha indicado que hay muchas leyendas que relacionan la Casa del Temple con la Orden de los Templarios pero ninguna oficial y ha dicho que en el siglo XIX, el historiador Amador de los Ríos ya denominó este espacio como Casa del Temple, al igual que Benito Pérez Galdós en su novela «Ángel Guerra».

Durante el siglo XIX, se conservaba además de la Casa del Temple, que ocupaba «toda la manzana», la Casa de la Parra, hoy desaparecida, que era donde se ubicaba «supuestamente la alacena del Temple», exportada a Londres tiempo después.

in ABC.es

«Toledo fue la única ciudad templaria de España»

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El joven investigador y escritor José Manuel Morales (Córdoba, 1981) ha acudido este jueves a Toledo con su tercer ensayo sobre temas históricos y de misterio debajo del brazo. En esta ocasión, se sumerge en la historia del Orden del Temple con su libro «Templarios: Claves ocultas en catedrales góticas, vírgenes negras y la búsqueda del Santo Grial en España» (Ediciones Luciérnaga). Una obra que ha presentado en la Biblioteca de Castilla-La Mancha junto al también investigador y colaborador de Cuarto Milenio Luis Rodríguez Bausá y Juan Luis Alonso, autor de la web leyendasdetoledo.com.

-Los templarios es uno de los temas más manidos de la historiografía. ¿Qué aporta de novedoso su libro?

-Aunque a mí me encargaron un ensayo, «Templarios» no es un estudio de investigación al uso, ya que hay muchas obras sobre este tema y la época medieval. Yo me he alejado del libro clásico y ofrezco al lector, tanto al que se acerca a esta temática por primera vez como al docto en la materia, una aventura y un viaje en primera persona por las iglesias y fortalezas con huellas templarias, todo ello de forma novelada, aunque no deja de ser un ensayo.

-¿Por qué cree que los templarios tienen tanto poder de atracción entre los lectores y el público en general?

-Por un lado, porque creo que todos los seres humanos tenemos simpatía por las minorías perseguidas. En el caso de los templarios, fue una organización que creció de manera meteórica, luego fueron perseguidos de forma injusta y tuvieron un final muy romántico. Además, a esta orden se la ha relacionado siempre con los temas más fascinantes del medievo, como los últimos caballeros medievales, la construcción de las catedrales góticas, las vírgenes negras o reliquias como el Arca de la Alianza, el Santo Grial y la Mesa del rey Salomón.

-¿Qué hay de cierto en muchos de los mitos y leyendas que se asocian a esta orden?

-Yo soy de los que opina que toda leyenda tiene un poso de realidad. Para la investigación de la Orden del Temple, aunque gran parte de la documentación no se conserva, ha habido que rellenar las lagunas históricas echando mano a las leyendas, siempre separando el grano de la paja, pero está claro que cuando el río suena agua lleva.

-¿Y cuál es el misterio de su fulgurante ascenso y de su no menos repentina disolución y persecución?

-Quizá, lo más llamativo sería pensar que encontraron el Arca de la Alianza y relacionar la eclosión del arte gótico -surgido alrededor de 1130- con el ascenso de los templarios y, cuando la Orden del Temple es disuelta, este estilo artístico desaparece. Por eso, la hipótesis que yo lanzo en el libro es que encontraron este valioso objeto que les hizo poderosos a ojos del Papa, de monarcas y nobles, además de permitirles el acceso a cierta información para aplicar la geometría sagrada a los templos que ellos mismos financiaron.

-Francia es quizá el país donde las huellas templarias son más claras. Pero, en su expansión, llegaron hasta España. ¿Qué les trajo hasta aquí?

-Los templarios vinieron por dos motivos. Por un lado, su razón fundacional era proteger a los peregrinos que acudían a Jerusalén y, en el caso de España, este papel lo desempeñaron en torno al Camino de Santiago. Y, por otro lado, fue importante su labor en la Cruzada contra los territorios musulmanes en la Península Ibérica, como en el caso de la batalla de las Navas de Tolosa en 1212 o en la conquista del valle del Guadalquivir bajo el amparo del rey Fernando III El Santo.

-Toledo tuvo un gran papel para ellos. ¿Por qué?

-Toledo es uno de los lugares de la Península Ibérica con más huellas de la presencia de la Orden del Temple. Además, tiene una peculiaridad, ya que las encomiendas templarias habitualmente se situaban alejadas de las ciudades, pero Toledo fue la única ciudad con presencia templaria de España por así decir.

in ABC.es

M. CEBRIÁN Toledo

New Squires, Knights and Dames in the Iberian Priory

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Once again the Pentecost was the magical occasion for the reception of new members in the Iberian Priory, this time in a beautiful ceremony conducted by the Commandry of Sintra in a secluded place in the middle of the Alentejo plains.

The ceremonies took two days. In the first day the new Squires were given their last instructions before committing themselves to the Order. It spoke of service, of the role the Squire had in the old Chivalric Orders and how it translates symbolically to today.

After each of the Squires was admitted to the service of the Order, the ceremonies were halted so that the chapel could be re-arranged in order to start the Pentecost Vigil, during which two Squires that had been admitted last year became a new Knight and Dame of the Order.

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Guarding the Tower during the Pentecost Vigil

The Vigil took place, as it is traditional, throughout the course of the night. The two Squires were supplied with sacred texts and doctrinal comments for their meditation, including a section of the “Book of the Order of Chivalry” by Ramon Llull.

As morning broke, the Commandry proceeded with the arming ceremonies, which were drawn to a close early in the morning of Sunday with a light breakfast in the woods.

The Priori of Iberia wishes to congratulate the new Knight, Rui Bento, KTJ and Dame Ana Brum, DTJ. We hope they will find a meaningful pathway for their spiritual quests in this new stage of their lives. The Priory also wishes to congratulate the new Squires, hoping that they can now see Chivalry as a living force, instead of dead letters in the pages of a dusty old book.

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Part of the liturgical team (Commandry of Sintra, Prioratys Ibericus, Osmthu)