Villafranca del Bierzo – a Historic-Artistic Site

Villafranca del Bierzo is a city and municipality located in the comarca of El Bierzo, in the province of León, Castile and León, Spain.

It is one of the Leonese municipalities in which Galician is spoken.

Villafranca del Bierzo lies 187 kilometers from Santiago de Compostela and is located between Ponferrada and O Cebreiro on the Way of St. James pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

Tourism and main attractions

The town was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1965.

The collegiate church of Santa María del Cluniaco, Coruniego or Cruñego had its origins in a Benedictine monastery erected in the 12th century, with an attached guesthouse to serve the French pilgrims who passed through Villafranca del Bierzo, on the way to Compostela. The remains of this former abbey have been lost, hidden by the modern collegiate church.

The church-convent of San Nicolás is a 17th-century architectural complex. It is inspired by that of Monforte, which in turn tries to reproduce that of El Escorial.

The church of Santiago Apóstol is a Catholic parish church, it has a single rectangular nave covered with a barrel vault with a Baroque Chapel and lateral sacristy added in the century XVIII.

The convent of San Francisco de Asís goes back to the original convent of San Francisco, only the church, some walls and the arches of the cloister remain.

The castle-palace of the Marquis of Villafranca del Bierzo or castle of the Marquis of Villafranca or Castle of Los Condes de Peñarramiro stands on another castle that had been previously built, known by the name “force”. This castle was attacked and destroyed in 1507 by the illegitimate son of Pedro Álvarez Osorio, 1st count of Lemos.

Today the castle is owned by María Manuela Caro y Carvajal, daughter of Mariano Caro y del Arroyo -III count of Peña Ramiro, who represents a minor branch of the Marquis of Villafranca del Bierzo-, pianist and wife of the famous composer and director of orchestra, Cristobal Halffter.

The church of San Juan, also called the church of San Fiz de Viso. The church has a rectangular plan, with a semicircular apse. They are separated by a semicircular arch, supported by two buttresses. The apse, in turn, has four pillars. The roof is made of gabled wood in the nave and a vault in the chapel. The walls are made of slate ashlar.

The Villafranquino Theater – currently known as the Villafranquino Enrique Gil y Carrasco Theater. Although it was inaugurated as a theater, throughout its century of life it has hosted literary, musical, political and social events. Two of the most popular events that it hosts are the “Cinefranca” Film Festival and the Short Film Festival that is held every year in December.

How to get to?

From León 1 hr 26 min (137 km) via AP-71 and A-6

From Valladolid 2 hr 39 min (258 km) via A-6

From Madrid 4 hr 9 min (412 km) via A-6

Main information

Area: 177 sq. km

GPS coordinates: 42°36′27″N 6°48′27″W

Language: Spanish, Galician

Population: 2885

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1, in summer +2

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