Travel to “El pueblo” in the Highlands of Soria

It was May 2019 when Amazon premiered the new series by Alberto Caballero and Nando Abad. At that time little was known about it, except that it was called “El pueblo” and that it had a cast full of well-known names: Carlos Areces, Santi Millán, Ingrid Rubio and María Hervás, among others. But word of mouth had its effect, and by the time the series premiered on free-to-air Telecinco in 2020, it had become a contemporary Spanish classic. 

The vicissitudes of a group of urbanites who are forced to live in a semi-abandoned village (originally an “eco-village”) in the province of Soria and the reactions of the few inhabitants of the village to having to live with them are already television history. 

With its fourth season recently released, the series has been evolving with new characters and new stories, but maintains a good part of its original cast (it is impossible to imagine Peñafría without Cándido, the “Ovejas”, Juanjo or Nacho). And, of course, it continues to be filmed in the unique and inimitable village of Valdelavilla, which is the real name of the fictional Peñafría.

With Lucía Redondo, film commissioner of the Soria Film Commission, we are going to get to know this beautiful place in the north of Spain better.

Valdelavilla: the genuine Peñafría

The story of Valdelavilla is a beautiful one. Located in the Highlands of Soria, abandoned in the 60s and recovered in the 21st century by a foundation that turned it into a rural tourism complex, it has been reborn from its solitude thanks to the series.

Calle Cuesta / Fundación Valdelavilla

Since the summer of 2019, at the height of the first season, it has become a weekend destination for many Spaniards -urbanites or not- who want to visit the places where the adventures of their favourite characters take place, but also to get to know an area of exceptional beauty. And since the whole town is a tourist complex and you can also take guided tours of the scenes from the series, both things are easy. 

Taking advantage of the fact that you have come this far, there is no excuse for not including in your getaway some of the places of interest that surround the village of “El pueblo”. Here is a small guide to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Dinosaurs, fire steps and torreznos

Valdelavilla is located in the Highlands of Soria, an area in the northeast of the province bordering Aragon and La Rioja. In addition to its fabulous landscapes, the kind of scenery that you would look for when you are fleeing from asphalt, this area is Jurassic territory. The route of the ichnites is one of those unknown peculiarities that you will love. Do you know what an ichnite is? Well, the fossilised footprint of an animal; in this case, the footprints of the dinosaurs that lived in the area some 140 million years ago. In addition to all kinds of palaeontological information, the on-screen tourist will find several life-size replicas of dinosaurs. With them you can recreate a scene or two from the “Jurassic Park” saga.

Dinosaur reproduction on the route of the ichnites / Soria Film Commission

If you are travelling with children, a stop they will love is the Cretaceous Adventure Park in San Pedro Manrique. Incidentally, this town is just a stone’s throw from Valdelavilla (so we wouldn’t be surprised if a dinosaur crept into the “Ovejas” imaginary). 

A tradition of San Pedro Manrique that has been featured in the series is the well-known “paso del fuego” (passage of fire). Of Celtiberian origin, it is celebrated during the night of San Juan (a festival celebrated in style throughout the province of Soria). At midnight, the sampedranos, preceded by three trumpet blasts, cross barefoot, without burning themselves, a path of glowing embers laid out like a carpet. Here you can see the atmosphere that is enjoyed at this festival. 

To complete the visit to San Pedro, you should take a stroll through its streets and visit some of the other scenes from the series. In particular, the Romanesque ruins of San Pedro el Viejo (an old Templar monastery located on a hill a short distance from the village), better known to the locals as “el alto de la cobertura”, very popular throughout the first season. 

If you’re looking for the river where the characters have a great swim, you’ll have to go a little further afield. The natural pool that appears in Peñafría is actually 70 kilometres away, in the spot known as El Chorrón, located in the Razón River Valley. 

The beech forest that appears in the first season is not in Valdelavilla-Peñafría either. To see it, you have to go to Diustes, in the vicinity of the medieval village of Yanguas, which is well worth a stop to get to know it in depth.

Hayedo de Diustes / Soria Film Commission

And, to round off this one hundred per cent Soria tour, you must try the local delicacies. The king of Soria’s gastronomy is the torrezno, a piece made up of a crispy, golden crust on one side and tender lean meat and bacon on the other. Although it can be eaten in different parts of Spain, it is true that the ones eaten in Soria are different. It is common to have them for breakfast there and, although the bacon-coffee combination may seem strange, it is one of those things you have to try. Other Soria delicacies that can be tasted on the spot or taken home as souvenirs are butter, truffles and boletus, three of the highest quality foods in Spain. Not to mention the internationally famous Ribera del Duero wines, which our friend Juanjo Solere, Carlos Areces’ character in the series, is very fond of.

Soria, “the capital”

Although it is a medium-sized city, comfortable, close and with a high standard of living, for the lifelong peñafienses, Soria is “the capital”, where they travel alone out of necessity. Although in this fourth season, what our friends need is company and that is why we see Cándido, the “Ovejas” and Arsacio in the streets of the centre in search of gyms and places for “speed dating“. That’s where we leave it.

Arcos de San Juan de Duero / Soria Film Commission

Of course, the capital of Númantina contains one of the richest heritages in the country. From a tour of the best Romanesque architecture to the lively streets of the Espolón, via the Arcos de San Juan de Duero and the hermitage of San Saturio, there is no corner that does not offer something worth admiring. 

And if you still want to get to know this beautiful province better, there is no one better than the Soria Film Commission to guide us through its lands. Thanks to their work, this Castilian-Leonese province continues to be a great destination to attract film shoots of all kinds and to practice screen tourism. Let’s travel, good friends!

By María Parcero

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