By Chris King • 19 March 2022 • 2:17
Smallest city in Spain has 270 inhabitants and an incredible medieval castle.
Image: Google maps - thierry genius
Cities in Spain are normally characterised by having tens of thousands of inhabitants. However, the town of Frias, in the province of Burgos, is classed as a city. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Frias has a population of only 270.
As explained in ‘National Geographic’, the reason why this small town is treated as a city is historical. In the 15th century, King Juan II of Castile granted this town the title of city with a specific purpose: to exchange it with Pedro Fernandez de Velasco, Count of Haro, for the town of Peñafiel.
Since then its title survives, although, in reality, it is a spectacular medieval town. In fact, it is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
Frias sits around the La Muela rock and an impressive castle stands out at its highest point. This fortress was built in the 10th century and was key for King Alfonso VIII. It gave it a fundamental strategic value in the defence of the Tobalina Valley.
Currently, its state of conservation is remarkable: from its wooden drawbridge, to the keep, the highest point of the fortification. It can be visited from Wednesday to Friday continuously from 11am to 6pm, and on weekends from 11am to 7pm. An individual ticket costs €2, and for children under five years, access is free.
Beyond the castle, the municipality houses other medieval elements that are well worth a visit. The remains of the walled enclosure and its gates are one of them. Alfonso VIII ordered the town to be walled to reinforce the defences.
In 1211 this wall was already standing and guarding the city. Today there are vestiges close to the houses, among which three doors stand out: the Puerta de Medina, the Puerta del Postigo, and the Puerta de la Cadena.
Frias has a stunning Romanesque-medieval bridge over the Ebro river. It was built in Roman times, but during the Middle Ages it was rebuilt several times. In medieval times, the tower located in its middle area was added.
The reason? Charge merchants and other people who crossed the bridge the right of pontazgo, a tax from the Middle Ages, very similar to today’s road tolls. Basically, those who crossed the bridge paid an amount of money. It was fundamental in this case, since the Frias bridge was part of a key Roman road for trade in the area.
A little space in the upper area of Frias means that its tuff and wood houses are built right on the edge of the giant La Muela rock on which the town sits. From below, the view of these houses is spectacular, as reported by 20minutos.es.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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