Medinaceli is one of them villages full of history which we have been close to not be able to admire today. Depopulation and abandonment affected its buildings and surroundings badly, but fortunately, the work done in recent decades has recovered much of its former splendour.
But, why was this place so full of splendour? You may ask. Well, first of all, because old imperial Rome greets you here from its remains. Above all, from the top of an impressive arch of triumph, the only one with a triple arch still preserved from those times in Spain. But the Romans also built salt marshes and roads and surrounded the city with one of their walls, which centuries later the Arabs were to make good use of.
The fact is that the enclave did not lose importance under Muslim domination either. On the contrary, the new owners reinforced the walls, built a fortress and defended the town with their lives because it was a key place, located on the border between both sides. Probably also from that period is the Medieval Snowfield that can still be seen outside the walled perimeter.
With the Christian reconquest, a new era would begin for the town. In the fourteenth century, a robust and austere looking castle was built over what was left of the former fortresses. It served as a residence for the Counts of Medinaceli, who later became Dukes and ordered the construction of their Ducal Palace. Looking at the majestic mansion that still closes off one side of the Plaza Mayor, no one would doubt that they gained from the change.
The unique building of the Alhóndiga also faces this square, and the Roman forum was once located on the same site. It also serves as the stage for the Toro Jubilo, an ancient ritual in which a bull runs through the village with its horns on fire. Today, this festival arouses a lot of controversies, like all festivals in which the suffering of live animals is used for the amusement of a few people.
And of course, you can also see here the typical religious monuments of the time. At the end of the fifteenth century, there were a good dozen Romanesque churches, until the Duke of Medinaceli asked the Vatican to bring those parishes together into one. Said and done, the Collegiate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption became the great temple of the town, and the small churches were demolished one by one.
And, if the Collegiate Church was the initiative of the Duke, the Convent of Santa Isabel was that of the Duchess. Today it is still occupied by a group of Poor Clare nuns who are famous for making sweets with an almost heavenly flavour. If you come, try them and tell us.