Ermita de San Frutos

Ermita de San Frutos

Tyler and I had a wonderful day!  We hit the road from our home in Pozuelo de Alarcón at about 08:00 this morning.  My Spanish instructor, Blanca, told me about the Ermita de San Frutos, just outside of Sepúlveda, Spain.  We drove there to take a look.  It was about 150 kilometers (93 miles) north of our home.  It took us about 90-minutes to get there.

Right where we turned off the A1 freeway, we saw an old church, Our Lady of the Assumption.  It was pretty in the morning light, but of even more interest were the large storks that nest on the bell tower.  They are a very common site on most churches I have seen in Spain.

Storks nesting on the bell tower of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Castillejo de Mesleón, Spain.

It is at the small village of Villaseca where one turns off the main road for the last three kilometers (1.9 miles) or so to San Frutos. That part of our journey was on a very, very bumpy, dirt road.  It made me happy we were in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.  Villaseca is about 13 kilometers (8 miles) west and north of Sepúlveda.  Calling it a “main road” is a bit of a stretch.  As we drove through the small village of Castrillo de Sepúlveda, just prior to Villaseca, the 4Runner barely fit…and it was a two-way road!

A panorama showing Sepúlveda and the channel of the Río Duratón.
A typical house in the small village of Castrillo de Sepúlveda.
The view of a street in the tiny village of Castrillo de Sepúlveda.

When we finally made it to the parking area, we found we still had about one kilometer (0.6 miles) to hike to get to the church.  The sky was crystal blue since we arrived so early in the morning.  It was a beautiful setting.  The church is on a rocky peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Embalse (reservoir) de Burgomillodo which is fed by the Río Duratón.  I took some spectacular photos.

As we started walking from the car to the church, I heard some bells.  I, at first, could not tell what it was.  Then I spotted several sheep.  The shepherd was standing not too far from them as they grazed up the hill, away from San Frutos.

Sheep grazing near the Hermitage of San Frutos, visible in the center-right.

We enjoyed exploring the ruins of the hermitage around the church.  The church itself is still functional; however, it was not open while we were there.  The entire structure dates from the late 11th century.  The saints that are associated with the site are San Frutos, his brother San Valentin, and their sister, Santa Engracia.

The date most often associated with the birth of San Frutos is 642, living until 715.  His life preceded the construction at the site at which he and his siblings were hermits.  The earliest date of construction is around 1076.

To the west of the main complex, maybe 100 meters (328 feet) or so, is a small building.  The tile sign on the building indicates it is the tomb of the saints.  When one looks inside, one can easily see where three bodies would have laid.  Some time ago, people moved the remains either Segovia or Toledo, I am not sure which.  Regardless, next to the tomb of the saints is a tiny cemetery that is still in use.

Directly in front of the church is a necropolis that is no longer in use.  In the exposed stone are several hand-hewn graves.  estimate on average they were five feet long, 18 to 24-inches wide and about 18 to 24-inches deep.  After laying the dead to rest in these stone tombs, a heavy slab of stone lay across the top of the tombs to deter wild animals from accessing the bodies.  Today, all these tombs are empty.

La Ermita de San Frutos sits on a rocky peninsula. The Burgomillodo Reservoir provides the reflection.
A broader view of the Burgomillodo Reservior.
The reservoir runs along the south side of the peninsula too.
On our hike, getting closer to the church.
The view to the north along the reservoir.
The church at the hermitage.
A closer view of the church.
The very unique cross at the church.
The bell tower and the archway that leads to the ruins of the hermitage.
The interior of the church. This was shot through a very small opening in the iron door, using a flash.
The sun rising above the bell tower.
A different view of the tower and the sun.
Clumps of this flowering plant grew out of the walls at several places.
From the hermitage ruins looking back across the plain.
The tomb of the Saints at the far west end of the peninsula.
The sign on the small structure.
A view through the iron gate.
A tiny cemetery is near the tomb of the Saints.
In the ruins of the hermitage, looking toward the west side of the church. The metal door is the only entrance to the church.
The reservoir on the north side of the peninsula.
A view to the cross through the arch. The cross is at the narrowest point of the peninsula.
A window on the south side of the hermitage ruins overlooks the reservoir.
Detail of the construction at an archway in the ruins.
A panorama of the east side of the church. The elongated holes in the rock are actually ancient tombs, part of the necropolis.
The wrought iron cross. The Latin on the horizontal piece reads, “Christ God Man.” The other portion reads, “Lives Reigns Commands.” The date at the top is 1900, and 1901 is at the bottom.  It is unclear to what the inscription and dates refer.
The view back to the church from the cross.

Even though the last several kilometers of the drive to San Frutos was so bumpy, I still highly recommend the trip.  The beauty of the site is stunning.

After our exploration, we walked back to the 4Runner and set sail for the town of Sepúlveda.

According to local lore, the name Sepúlveda derives from the Latin phrase septum publica, a reference to the seven gates of the city.

Once in Sepúlveda, we made our way to the main square, Plaza de España.  There we found a small street-side café.  Tyler had a café con leche (coffee and milk), and I had a café americano (a shot of espresso with added hot water).  Since we were both very thirsty after our hike, we each had a bottle of water too.  The most dominant feature of the plaza is the City Hall.  One can readily tell it is ancient.  There is a clock above the city’s coat of arms.  Far above that is a bell tower with the requisite storks.

The small town of Sepúlveda.
A street in Sepúlveda.
The Plaza de España in Sepúlveda.
A stork departing the nest above the Plaza de España.
Two friends discussing the events of the day at a café in the Plaza de España.
The clock in the Plaza de España.

Leaving the Plaza de España, we looked for the tourist information office.  When we found it, we were greeted by a very nice young woman.  She explained several things to us and provided us with a map of the city.  We used that map to navigate our way around the town.

With map in hand, we walked to the Casa del Parque (Park House) which is in the old Iglesia de Santiago (St. James Church).  We went through that building, but we did not find it all that interesting.  It is an information center for the Parque Natural Hoces del Rio Duratón. That is the park in which we found la Ermita de San Frutos.

We made our way to the far end of town, in search of the Jewish arches.  They date from about 1468 to mark the entrance to the Jewish quarter of Sepúlveda.  On the way to the arches, we came across an elderly man in a small orange-colored car.  On the hood was “El Enamorado” which means The Lover.  He had stopped his car and was talking to a couple of women that were walking by.  I thought that was quite humorous.

Many parts of Sepúlveda are built on steep hills.
Another portion of the town on a hillside.
A man in his car stopped to talk to these two women. El Enamorado is on the hood of his car, The Lover. In smaller font, it states El Milagro (the miracle) December 20, 2002.
The Jewish Arches in Sepúlveda.

From the arches, we walked to the top of the hill to the Iglesia del Salvador (Church of the Savior). It was not open, but the view was great from the top of that hill.

We wandered back to the center of town and then began to search for Puerta del Azogue (mercury).  That is one of the original seven gates to the city.  We walked through the gate and came across the Museo de las Fueros.  The museum is in the old church of Saints Justice and Pastor.  That museum was great.  Unfortunately, my camera battery gave up the ghost so I could not take any more photos.  I vow to buy an additional battery so I always have a charged camera battery with me on these trips.

A small home decorated with a lot of flowers.
A cat on the steps of a home.
Looking down the road and across the rooftops of Sepúlveda.
The bell tower is on the west side of the Plaza de España.
A house on a steep street.
A bus entering the Plaza de España with what seems mere millimeters to spare!
An archway through the old town wall.
A wooden cross on a bell tower at a museum.

We walked back to the Plaza de España, ate some pinchos, and then drove home.

Sepúlveda is a very quaint town, well worth the visit.

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