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Religious Art and History in Castilla y Leon, Spain

June 1, 2011 By: Joe Pike

VALLADOLID, Spain -- My second and third days in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain last week were the first times I’ve seen more than 10 images of Christ on the cross without feeling like God was trying to tell me I did something wrong.

But after seeing two art exhibitions based on the “Passion of the Christ” and touring at least five historic churches in the towns of Valladolid, Medina de Rioseco and Medina del Campo, I started to think I did something right.

On day three of my press trip to the Casilla y Leon region of Spain, which is one 17 regions in Spain and is roughly the same size as Hungary, we made our way to the towns of Medina de Rioseco and Medina del Campo for a limited-time art exhibition of religious works throughout the world, called “Passio: Las Edades DL Hombre” (

For art lovers looking to completely immerse themselves in the passion and graphic detail of European art, this exhibition was more than worth it. In fact, the cost, at least for an American, was practically laughable. It costs €3, roughly $5, for a ticket to two “Passio” exhibitions, one at the Santiago de los Caballeros church in Medina de Rioseco and the other at the Church of Santiago in Medina del Campo. The exhibition runs from now through November 6. To reserve tickets, agents can e-mail [email protected]

While were in Medina de Rioseco, we also toured several other historical churches from the Church of Santa Maria, where Castilla y Leon’s version of the Sistine Chapel can be found on the walls and ceilings of this 15th century landmark.

We then made our way to the Museo de Samana Santa, a museum that was formerly the Church of Santa Cruz. This 16th century building was virtually restored in the 1950s after a devastating earthquake destroyed most of it. We then made our way to the Museo de San Francisco, formerly the San Francisco Convent, for another tour of a historic church and some more samples of beautiful religious sculptures culminating in yet another breathtaking, gold-finished altar.

Before our legs fully gave out, we stored enough energy to tour the facilities of a 19th century bullfighting ring in Medina de Rioseco. The stadium holds about 5,000 people and host bullfighting exhibitions two times a year. It is held during the week of June 23-30, the Festival of St. John. Admission for a bullfighting exhibition is just €6-€10 and tickets can be bought the day of the event.

Castillo de la Mota in Castilla y Leon, Spain

Then we made our way about one hour away to the small town of Medina de Campo. We visited the famous castle, the Castillo de la Mota, which was finished in the 15th century and stand five floors, 40-meter high. It just opened for tourism about a year ago and costs €6 for a full tour.

The last day, spent in Valladolid, we made our way to yet another museum, Museo Nacional Colegio de San Gregorio,  for more religious art, but this was really well done stuff. Each artist has their own interpretation of Christ and evokes a different emotion. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed on Mondays. The fee is €3. Visit or e-mail [email protected]

For either a first-timer to Spain or a frequent European traveler, my itinerary was perfect. I spent one full day in Madrid before making my way two hours west to the beautiful region of Castilla y Leon, where I sipped great wine and took in enough churches and religious art to last a lifetime.

Keep visiting for more on Castilla y Leon, including the restaurants I dined at and the hotels I slept at.

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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