Villafranca del Bierzo

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Vilafranca del Bierzo
Convent of the Padres Paúles.
Convent of the Padres Paúles.
Official seal of Vilafranca del Bierzo
Seal
Vilafranca del Bierzo is located in Spain
Vilafranca del Bierzo
Vilafranca del Bierzo
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 42°36′27″N 6°48′27″W / 42.60750°N 6.80750°W / 42.60750; -6.80750
Country Spain
Autonomous community Castile and León
Province León
Comarca El Bierzo
Partido judicial Ponferrada
Government
 • Mayor Agustín García Millán (PP)
Area
 • Total 177.37 km2 (68.48 sq mi)
Elevation 505 m (1,657 ft)
Population (2009)
 • Total 3,481
 • Density 20/km2 (51/sq mi)
Demonym Villafranquinos
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Website Official website
Castle of Villafranca.

Vilafranca del Bierzo (Vilafranca do Bierzo in Galician language) is a village and municipality located in the comarca of El Bierzo, in the province of León, Castile and León, Spain.

It is one of Galician speaking councils of Castilla y León.[1]

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.

History[edit]

The first human settlements in the area date to the Neolithic age, while the first historically known people living here were the Celtiberians, who lived in Bergidum, later known as Bergidum Flavium after the Roman conquest.

In the Middle Ages, the town is first mentioned in 791. The origin of the modern town are connected to the Way of St. James, as a rest place for the pilgrims which started to reach Santiago de Compostela from the 9th century. In the Codex Calixtinus Villafranca is mentioned as an intermediate stage between Rabornal and Triacastela. In 1070, during the reign of Alfonso VI of León, a Cluniac monastery was founded here to cultivate vine, and a borough of French pilgrim rose around it, from which the town's name (meaning "French Town") stems. The town later received numerous hotels and hospitals for the pilgrims.

In the late 12th century Alfonso VII of León gave the lordship of Villafranca to his sister Sancha. Later it went to Urraca, wife of King Ferdinand II and then to Teresa, wife of Alfonso IX, and then to numerous other noble people. In 1486 the lordship became a marquisate assigned to Luis Pimentel y Pacego: his daughter married Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, whose family thenceforth held the marquisate for centuries.

During the Peninsular War Villafranca was the headquarters of the Galician army and was sacked three times by the English troops, and was later occupied by the French troops. The Spanish general Antonio Filangieri died here. The town was freed in 1810.

Main sights[edit]

  • Collegiate church of Santa María (16th-17th centuries)
  • Church of St. John (12th century)
  • Church of St. Nicholas (17th century)
  • Church of Santiago the Apostle (12th-13th centuries)
  • Monastery of St. Francis de Asís (13th century), of which only the late Romanesque church remains, with the upper façade and the two bell tower added in Baroque style during the 18th century.
  • Castle of the Counts of Pena Ramiro (16th century), with four towers
  • Palace of the Marquisses of Villafrance (18th century)
  • Palace of Torquemada (18th century)

Municipalities[edit]

The municipality comprehends several villages:

Local festivities[edit]

  • January 28, Santo Tirso
  • February 3, San Blas
  • May 1, Festa do Maio
  • June, Poetry festivity
  • July 25, Santiago
  • August, Tourist festivities
  • September 14, El Cristo

Marquisses of Villafranca del Bierzo[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]