barcelona book

Tordesillas, a vigilance post converted in town

Although this spanish town is famous for Joanna I, queen of Castile and Aragon (including a movie has been done about her life), I knew more about it not for its history but for its festivals which are celebrated each year.

Just at about 30 minutes from Valladolid by car, Oterium de Sellis was its name in the past converted during the 14th century as Turresellarum. The name was given because the town was born on the top of a small hill called Siellas and with the time, the latin word altarium meaning hillock was translated to “autero” and later shortened to “tor” to convert it in Tor de Sillas.

Before to tell you more about the tournament of the toro de la vega and the medieval market festivals, let’s

do a little history; after all, to understand those local festivals dating from the middle ages period, it will not be a bad idea to know its past.

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Originally it was a fortified place that was used only to keep watch on virgin lands, a kind of vigilance post and only from the 9th century, with the impulse of Garcia I, king of Leon, the area started to populate by mozarabs and people coming from Asturias and León.

You may heard about this town for its famous international festival called torneo del toro de la vega (tournament of the bull in the meadow) which is declared as national tourist interest in 1980 and as traditional taurine show in 1999. This traditional festival was created in 1355 for the celebration of the birth of Isabel, daughter of Peter I the Cruel, king of Castile and Leon but the first written reference about bulls dates from 1534.

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The tournament consists of a fight to the death between a bull and people on foot and on horse with a spear. It is celebrated inside a limited area in outdoor the 2nd tuesday of september and the fight can start and end only within this zone. If the bull has the chance to cross the limits, it wins but like you can guess, although the animal and the man have to fight as an equal, the bull dies under the lance blows, impossible to struggle against the population. Since some years now, people try to forbid any journalists to do a video or to write something about it, I will say, they mistreat them. If you feel curious and you want to see a video, go to my topic Spanish festival, be fascinated or horrified.

The town is also know for the treaty of Tordesillas signed in 1494 between Spain and Portugal to share the newly discovered lands outside of Europe and for Joanna I (1479 - 1555), famously known as Joanna the Mad, the first queen regnant to reign over the Crown of Castile and the Crown of Aragon. She was confined in the Convent of Santa Clara in 1509 until her death because of her mental disorder considered as clinically depressed or schizophrenic but during this period, it was treated as insanity.

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About the treaty, it was to demarcate the line between the cape verde islands and the ones discovered by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage. To resume quickly, the islands on the east were for Portugal and on the west for Spain.

The medieval market is the 2nd festival that I wanted to talk about. This local festival started in 1994 to commemorate the 5th centenary of the treaty of Tordesillas and it is celebrated at the first weekend of october, the downtown gives life to the past. Streets and people are dressed as during the middle ages time, you will not only find local products but also jugglers, princes and princesses, soldiers, fire eaters, tumblers… walking on the streets to guarantee the show. It is a great moment not only to enjoy a local food festival but also to buy products like cheeses, spanish sausages, decorations, jewels… done by local people.

The town also owns a 3rd one, the holy week, which is also celebrated every year. In fact, it is celebrated in every town/city of Spain so it is something that you can see everywhere and the famous international one is done in Seville. So I’m not going to talk about it because it is not peculiar to this town except 2 historic facts, the holy week of Tordesillas was celebrated since 1345 and in 1996, it was declared as regional tourist interest.

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