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General view of the old city of Medinaceli.
General view of the old city of Medinaceli.
Flag of Medinaceli
Coat of arms of Medinaceli
Coat of arms
Medinaceli is located in Spain
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 41°10′18″N 2°26′5″W / 41.17167°N 2.43472°W / 41.17167; -2.43472Coordinates: 41°10′18″N 2°26′5″W / 41.17167°N 2.43472°W / 41.17167; -2.43472
Country  Spain
Autonomous community Castile and León
Province Soria
Comarca Arcos de Jalón
 • Mayor Felipe Utrilla Dupre (PP)
 • Total 205.37 km2 (79.29 sq mi)
Elevation 1,092 m (3,583 ft)
Population (2016)
 • Total 741
 • Density 3.6/km2 (9.3/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Ocelitanos
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Website Official website

Medinaceli (pronounced [meðinaˈθeli]) is a municipality and town in the province of Soria, in Castile and León, Spain. Its name derives from the Arabic madīnat 'city' and the Celtic Okela 'hill': madīnaokelis. Occelis was the celtiberian name of the town.

Ancient Roman gate.


During the Middle Ages, Medinaceli was a town that lay between the lands of the Christians and the Muslims. Situated at the confluence of the river Jalón, Medinaceli was the site of the Celtiberian town Occilis. From the Roman era until 1994, its saltworks were exploited for commercial use.

Main sights[edit]

The Toro Jubilo annually occurs in Medinaceli, in which crowds of participants taunt a bull with balls of burning tar or turpentine (called "pitch") attached to his horns.

Medinaceli is home to the only three-gated Roman arch in Spain, built in the 1st-3rd centuries AD.

The castle of Medinaceli served as the residence of the Dukes of Medinaceli until the Ducal Palace (Palacio Ducal) was used for this purpose.

Other buildings include the Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, whose abbots fought with the bishops of Sigüenza to maintain the city's rights. The Convent of Saint Elizabeth (16th century) (Convento de Santa Isabel), which lies next to the church of San Martín, also stands in good condition. The beaterio (house inhabited by lay sisters) of San Román (Saint Romanus) is in ruins; it may have previously been a synagogue.

Moorish-era remains include a stone gate, one of the few remains of the ancient city walls.

360° view of Plaza Mayor (Main square).

"Fire Bull" festival[edit]

The "Toro Jubilo" or "Toro de Fuego" is a festival that takes place in Medinaceli. The festival is a symbolic ritual denouncing the occupation of Spain by the Moors (Muslims). During this festival, a bull is tied to a post. Balls of tar are then placed on each horn of the bull and lit. A thick layer of mud on the back and face of the bull helps protect the bull from physical injury or burns. The bull is then released in the square, which has five lit bonfires symbolizing five martyrs.[1]

Animal rights group PACMA has described the fiesta as "a clear example of animal mistreatment"[citation needed] and PETA has called it "a sadistic festival".[2] They claim that the fire balls burn for hours, causing a great amount of stress on the animal.[3][4]


  1. ^ Toro Jubilo
  2. ^ PETA, Bulls Tortured With Fire in Sadistic Spanish Festival!
  3. ^ Grotesque Spanish bull-burning festival where baying crowd straps flaming wooden horns to terrified animal. . . in the name of entertainment [1]
  4. ^ 'Toro Jubilo' 2011 en Medinaceli, on YouTube