“Santo Domingo de la Calzada, where the hen sang after being roasted”. This is what some say when referring to this town, so we are going to reveal to you how such a thing happened.
These lands were an awkward place during the ninth and tenth centuries. Neither the Muslims nor the Christians managed to gain control of the territory, which was no one’s and everyone’s land until the ones with the Cross began to win the game.
Thanks to that, the Camino de Santiago became more alive, grew more important and gained more pilgrims, and a young man named Domingo, who in the middle of the eleventh century came to this area willing to live like a hermit, would contribute to this too.
As well as dedicating himself to the contemplative life, Domingo wanted to help the walkers on their way to Compostela who were suffering all kind of hardships and calamities. He built a shelter and a bridge for them, and a stone path which eventually would give the name to the place.
He also had time to build a small oratory on which later the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Plaza was erected, which you can visit today. You can also have a look at the bridge and the greatest city walls preserved in La Rioja. They are from the fourteenth century, and the Arabs were long gone, but civil wars were in fashion because, it seems like, in those times fighting was the thing.
You should also have a look at the cathedral, its construction began in 1158 and was not finished until much later, with the result of Romanic, Gothic and Baroque styles live peacefully together in the building. The bell tower, mind you, is exclusively Baroque.
Inside the temple, you will find many wonders, and a bizarre thing: a hen house with a white rooster and a white hen. And why is that? Well, listen, here comes the legend…
It is said that a pilgrim stopped at an inn and that the innkeeper fell madly in love with him. When she learned that her love was not returned, she went a little funny in the head and placed in the luggage of the walker a valuable cup, so he would be accused of robbery and be hung. That was the case, but when the parents of the young man approached the scaffold, they discover that their son was still alive. They flew over to ask the commander to, after such prodigy, take down the innocent man and to acknowledge the terrible mistake, but the bigwig laughed and said that the young man was as alive as the rooster and the hen that he was about to eat. It was then when both animals started to flutter and cackle on the table, and that is precisely the miracle that is remembered in the cathedral, and that is why the saying with which we began this audioguide: “Santo Domingo de la Calzada, where the hen sang after being roasted”.
What would become of us without legends like this?