Located in the province of Brugos, in the plain of the Arlanza river, one of the most important wine regions in Spain, is Lerma. A small municipality of just over 2.500 inhabitants that lived its most splendid time during the reign of Felipe III in the seventeenth century.
The historic center of Lerma is a perfectly preserved wonder. Walking through its cobbled and steep streets takes us for a moment to the past and its wealth of heritage is so interesting that it justifies an excursion to this town.
Table of Contents
History of Lerma
Throughout history, given its strategic location on the banks of the Arlanza River, Lerma has occupied a strategic place as a crossroads. Its period of greatest splendor took place in the seventeenth century when the court of the Hispanic monarchy moved to Valladolid in 1601. At that time, relevant characters and artists came to Lerma and parties and banquets were held in honor of the kings.
This town had its great development coinciding with the time when the Duke of Lerma, famously known as King Felipe III. His fall from power and his conversion into a cardinal to avoid persecution, led him to take refuge here until his death in 1625. Shortly afterwards, his decline began.
What to see in Lerma
The historic center of Lerma extends over the slopes of a hill and still has some corners of the old medieval enclosure such as the Arch of the Prison, the main entrance door through the wall, or the old arcaded Villa square. Nearby is the medieval bridge and the hermitage of Humilladero, the only one that is preserved from the time of the Duke of Lerma.
Porticoed Main Square of Lerma
In front of the Ducal Palace of Lerma, the Plaza Mayor expands, one of the largest in Spain and originally completely porticoed. This square was used in the celebrations that the courtiers of the city carried out for bullfights, plays or equestrian exhibitions. To appreciate its dimensions, it is best to see it when it is empty, but during the day it is practically impossible to see it because it is used as a parking lot to access the old town with the car.
Ducal Palace, Lerma parador
On the remains of an old medieval castle, the Duke of Lerma ordered the construction of a palace in 1617 with characteristics similar to the Monastery of El Escorial, impressed by the monumentality and beauty of the religious building.
The palace presides over the upper area of the city and is the most important monument in Lerma. In the Herrerian style, the building with large ashlars with balconies and a slate roof perfectly blends the gray of stone and the black of slate. It is topped by its four spiers, so characteristic of this type of architecture. It was converted into a National Parador and its interior is completely restored.
Convent of San Blas in Lerma
In an adjoining square is the San Blas Convent, from 1627, currently inhabited by Dominican nuns, and where a large reliquary is preserved.
Collegiate Church of San Pedro in Lerma
Your walk through Lerma should lead you from the Plaza Mayor to the Collegiate Church of San Pedro. That route, from the Ducal Palace, was made by the kings and the Duke of Lerma through a tunnel known as the Ducal Passage, which can be visited today. In this way they could attend the religious services of the collegiate church without having to go outside.
Santa Clara Square in Lerma
Located just a few steps from the Plaza Mayor de Lerma is the Plaza de Santa Clara, a quiet place between two religious buildings in Lerma, the convent of Santa Clara and the monastery of Santa Teresa. Next to this square the spectacular viewpoint of Los Arcos opens to enjoy the views of the Arlanza river, one of the most beautiful in Castilla. The balcony also allows you to see how the city of Lerma expands outside the mountain that makes up its historic center. In this square, it is worth highlighting the tomb of priest Merino, a famous guerrilla fighter of the War of Independence, and the Ascension monastery, which was the first convent founded in Lerma by the Dukes of Uceda in 1610 and where Poor Franciscan nuns currently reside.