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Soria is a relatively small province, a detail that does not prevent, however, that it possesses, paradoxically, a great capacity to please and surprise. A good proof of this, are those small but at the same time pleasant unforeseen events, which far from being reviewed -perhaps as they should- in the recommended attractions in the main tourist-cultural routes, one is almost suddenly, a fact that usually happens, generally , when fear is lost and let it be precisely chance, or chance or causality-that each serve the portion of the dessert that pleases him or fill him-the best ally of the adventure.
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Villálvaro, is a small town that is in the vicinity of San Esteban de Gormaz, Rejas de San Esteban and another small but no less curious place, called Matanza de Soria, which is thought to be named after a bloody medieval battle and the installation in the place of the numerous wounded and in whose church, very modified, some curious graffiti were discovered some years ago, which in some cases make hair stand on end.
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Curiously, the Romanesque guides of the province hardly mention Villálvaro, if not to refer to the sparse Romanesque that remains in a simple little church, which currently serves as a cemetery chapel. Now, as soon as one enters the town -if one comes from San Esteban de Gormaz towards Matanza-, you will see on the right, a small rural road, which is lost in the infinity of some fields, in which it alternates, it is to be assumed that out of necessity rather than by caprice, the fallow and the carved and where some small trees can hardly provide a little shade when the sun induces mirages in the eyelashes and crickets and cicadas wait for the cool of the afternoon to dedicate the mariachis to the courtship.
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Well, barely one or at most two kilometers away from the road -which the eye of a good bucket, is still a master when traveling away from cumbersome utensils- in the distance is already seen, deceptive in the delicate beauty of its head, a promising Templuco, which seems to have sprouted, as stubble to your whim, in the middle of nowhere, as some Soria fields have fame-let's say, Pedro and Barahona-to sink for no apparent reason, leaving such perfect holes, those that the bad tongues -or perhaps they are good, but at the same time superstitious- say that the irate god Airón appears to breathe. It is the hermitage of the Virgin of Lagunas.
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The name, in itself, should already call our attention, leading us to suppose that perhaps once, as happened in Conquezuela, there was some gap in the surroundings, which was dried to turn it into a field of labor. And judging by the excellent plant and even the few details, perhaps, I only say maybe, that speculating also takes place, there would be times, who knows if medieval, some town from which there is no record, although the sources located At the foot of the hermitage, they speak of a place called precisely like this, Laguna, which is already depopulated in the sixteenth century, and which is also identified with that one al-Buhayra from the Arab sources where the ninth campaign of Almanzor took place in the year 980.
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Another detail that surprises, which of course helps a remodeling that has left the appearance of Swiss chalet, as is the exclamation of surprise uttered by the excellent travel companion, Master Alkaest -no lie, either, if I say that At the foot of the apse, I was fortunate to be able to speak with Master Syr, who unfortunately could not accompany us on this adventure, as planned - it is a longitudinal shortening of the ship, whose motives remain a complete enigma, although I must apologize , because my first thought was that half of the temple had been reused, as indeed it has happened in many other places, and that many of its formidable ashlars would be orphaned by houses and fences of the surrounding villages. Again I ask for forgiveness, although it is also true that, as the saying goes, think badly and you will be right.
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Of the ornamental part that survives, not much, it is also true, draw attention to some details of its cover, curiously located to the northwest -these that was pillaged, right there says it-, as the chess-type checker, flowers cuatrifolias immersed in circles and curious interlopers of Celtic type. These same interlaced ones, are repeated in the superior bases of the non-existent capitals of the apsidal window.
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Anyway, both the place and the hermitage, even for their unique curiosity, they deserve to be included in those guides and Romanesque routes that are so well responsible for showing other more or less injured places around.
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NOTICE: originally published on my blog SORIA IS WAY WALKING. Both the text, as the photographs, and the video (except music, reproduced under a YouTube license), are my exclusive intellectual property. The original entry, where you can check the authorship of juancar347, can be found at the following address: https://juancar347.blogspot.com/2014/08/villalvaro-la-ermita-de-la-virgen-de.html

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