Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 2 Addenda: Hospital de Orbigo

On the way to Astorga today we also passed through the town of Hospital de Orbigo, just about 7 km down the road from San Martin where we stayed last night. It was far too early to stop for the day, but not to admire the giant bridge which is the main feature of the town--it was originally Roman, and the current structure dates from the 13th century, although it was heavily restored in 1951, and is apparently now undergoing further renovations so much of it was covered in scaffolding.

The bridge is famous for a tournament held there in in the mid-fifteenth century, when the knight Suero de Quinones, frustrated with the fact that his lady (whose name is unknown) was not paying attention to him, even though he had gone so far as to make a rash oath to wear an iron collar around his neck on Thursdays in her honor, appealed to the king to be freed from his oath if he defended the bridge of Orbigo against any knight who passed for 30 days or until 300 lances had been broken, whichever came first. So, with his 9 companions, he did. Only about 68 knights showed up, although from all over western Europe, so the 30 days happened first. There was one death. Suero also hired a cleric to write essentially an epic poem in honor of himself and his companions, recording the exploits of the tournament, which quickly became popular reading and explains the continuing fame of Suero and the bridge.

One way that fame was evident today was in the preparations visible in the river´s flood plain for the Justas de Paso Honroso, a tournament and medieval-ish festival held annually in Orbigo in commemoration of Suero´s original Paso Honroso. Sadly we´re missing it! It´s not till June 5-6.

Orbigo was also an excellent place to get a morning cafe con leche at the Bar Don Suero de Quinones, and enjoy knowing that we´d finally left the highway and the plains of the meseta behind and were about to set out into new (and slightly less flat, and arguably slightly more interesting, if tragically less full of medieval fairs [until Ponferrada!]) vistas.

- Elizabeth


  1. Thanks for taking the time to post these excellent updates.

  2. seeing a real medieval tournament in a region that actually *had* a medieval period would be amazing