The opening of the shrine devoted to Saint Olav took place on 17th September 2011 in the bucolic valle de los lobos, which belongs to the old and beautiful village of Covarrubias (Burgos). The Association for the Development of Tierra de Lara has wanted to make it known creating the Way of Saint Olav, which starts in Burgos and, after covering sixty kilometers along several villages of the legendary Alfoz de Lara, arrives at the mentioned shrine, located in a valley that opens from the Mamblas sierra to the Arlanza fertile valley.
Those who read this short report on the Way of Saint Olav may wonder what a Norway saint does in the heart of Castile. Although it is a well-known history, it is worth remembering it once again:
Before dying aged 28 –it is said due to homesickness-, Princess Kristin of Norway made her husband promise that he would have a temple built devoted to Saint Olav in Covarrubias. King Haakon’s daughter arrived in Spain in 1257 in order to marry the king Alfonso X el Sabio’s brother and in this way strengthen the union between both kingdoms. The couple lived in Seville, but as her husband, don Felipe, had been abbot of Covarrubias collegiate church, he decided to bury there his young wife when she died only four years after the wedding.
The Way of Saint Olav starts at the Plaza del Rey San Fernando, at the feet of the impressive Burgos cathedral, in the heart of another way, the Way of Saint James. Both, Cathedral and the Way of Saint James are declared Heritage of Mankind. Therefore, the Way of Saint Olav begins in the best possible place, a meeting point for all those who arrive in Burgos either as pilgrims or as travelers.
Leaving the mentioned square and after passing under the Arco de Santa María, whose façade is worth admiring, and following along Santa María bridge, which has recovered its medieval forms some years ago, you come to the Plaza Vega. From here you continue along Madrid street until you reach, at the end of it, the vía verde (green road), a corridor which has resulted from the transformation of the Santander-Mediterráneo railway into a road to be enjoyed by walkers or cyclists.
Along this green road you arrive in Cardeñadijo, the first village of the Way of Saint Olav, after leaving Burgos city. It owns a wide offer of bars and restaurants, where you can get some refreshment before next stages.
Leaving Cardeñadijo the road goes on until you reach the “modúbares”: first, Modúbar de la Empareada, then Modúbar de la Cuesta and finally, Modúbar de San Cebrián. The countryside is quite unfurnished, as the writer Miguel Delibes would say, with scarce vegetation that allows to appreciate clearly the vivid colour of the earth. In all these villages where the Way of Saint Olav goes through, the most outstanding building is the church, because of its size and wealth, although there are as well remarkable houses and some ethnographic heritage you should know.
After the modúbares the road reaches Los Ausines. This name in plural is due to the three quarters (Quintanilla, San Juan and Sopeña) that form this village, scattered and distant from each other, being a very singular case.
It is recommended to stop for a while in order to know its churches and history; sure somebody in the village will offer to open and show them.
After leaving Los Ausines, along the road and parallel to the river Ausín, you arrive in Revilla del Campo, a prominent village with a very interesting church, canteen and other attractions. You should continue to Quintanalara, a village that lived on the land and cattle until recently, keeping today the lure of the small places built in the middle of a gentle nature. In this village the tradition of making wood into charcoal still exists.
You should cross Peñalara to follow a well signaled country road until Cubillo del César, which owns a cosy rural house by a little restored church worth visiting. In this territory near Peñalara you can see more woodland, standing out a lot of holm oaks, but as well sabines, due to the fact that the road goes deeper into the Sabinares del Arlanza, an area that could become a natural park in the future, owning the widest sabineland in Europe.
Along a flat land with slightly wavy zones, you reach Cubillejo de Lara, with several elements to point out: its dolmen, one of the most remarkable in the province and its church devoted to San Martín, whose figure appears over the entrance, riding a horse and tearing his cloak to share it with a poor man. In all these villages of Lara you can appreciate clearly the sierra or mountain influence as far as the country architecture is concerned. The old basket chimneys still survive in houses built with reddish stone. It is a highly Romanized zone, rich as well in remains of other older peoples and times.
Between Cubillejo de Lara and Quintanilla de las Viñas you can see a great deal of dinosaur footprints in the Ereas zone. Although this village is known above all for its small and marvelous church of Santa María de Lara, a remain of the visigothic splendor and time, though historians do not agree on its origin. Visiting it and taking time to observe it before dropping in is undoubtedly a moving experience.
We are in the heart of Tierra de Lara, a part of the Alfoz de Lara and a territory of epic poems like the Leyenda de Los Siete Infantes de Lara or the Poema de Fernán González, considered the first Castilian earl, whose castle in ruins can still be seen in the Picón de Lara.
The road goes deeper into the winding of the land sometimes covered by oak trees, sometimes by holm oaks and where sabines are more and more visible, going through some small meadows and brooks until reaching Mambrillas de Lara. Before arriving in this village you can observe more dinosaur footprints. It has got a rural house, whose owners are a good example of the kindness of Lara people.
And now we are at the last stage of this road: from Mambrillas de Lara, crossing the road to Soria, you need to go up along a well done track up to the height of the sierra, leaving at the beginning and on the left a beautiful oak wood, to reach the height and now among sabines and junipers you should follow on the right towards the first Mambla, near the entrance to Santa Olalla valley, notice the signposts and go down to the shrine of Saint Olav, built according to current architecture trends, a surprise for those who want to visit it and a pleasure for those who have covered this road on foot and as a pilgrim. May Saint Olav shelter the pilgrim, comfort him of the road stress and encourage him for life, the most important road. For those who like it, some kilometers further, following the road that goes to Hortigüela, the monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza is waiting for you. It is true that in Castile every road leads to a treasure. Do not miss it.
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