Boadilla del Camino

Boadilla del Camino is a small town of 121 inhabitants (INE, 1/1/2019) situated on the far eastern side of the Tierra de Campos, the great Castilian steppe with its cereal fields and its gentle undulations. The French way of Saint James (Camino francés a Santiago de Compostela) goes right through Boadilla del Camino. From here pilgrims need to walk or bike 427 km (265 miles) more to reach the famous cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The term Boadilla means oxen pasture and sources from the Fuero Municipal indicate that the foundation dates back to the year 970. Despite being such a small town, it houses two historical artistic monuments: The parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption and the medieval gothic jurisdictional column.

The church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Santa María de la Asunción) dates from the 16th century, although it is built on an old Romanesque church of which there are remains at the base of the bell tower and a baptismal font, dating from the 13th century. The church is made up of three naves made up of pillars, the baptistery and the choir.

Don’t leave town before taking a look at the marvellous 15th century medieval jurisdictional column, which was supposedly also used as a pillory. In those times a jurisdictional column was the symbol of the independence of a township. In this case the privilege of the jurisdictional independence was granted by King Henry IV.  He gave the privilege in gratitude of the help he got from the inhabitants of Boadilla del Camino in his fight to regain the lost throne, in favour of his stepbrother Don Alfonso.

The Boadilla jurisdictional column is one of the most beautiful in Spain. On a circular base with five steps stands a shaft with 8 slim columns which is decorated with rosettes and scallop shells, the well-known symbol of The way of Saint James. On the shaft is a capital with plant motifs, cherubs and animals. The capital is topped with a gothic cresting and a gothic spire.

Only a few kilometers west of Boadilla, in the direction of Frómista, flows the Castile Canal (Canal de Castilla). Constructed between the last half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century, it runs 207 km through the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and Valladolid, in the Autonomous Community of Castile and León. Its purpose was to boost trade by allowing Tierra de Campos’ wheat grain production to be transported from Castile to the northern harbour of Santander and to other markets from there; vice versa, the canal was also meant to facilitate the inflow of products from the Spanish colonies into Castile.

The Spanish War of Independence, budgetary constraints and the difficult passage of the Cantabrian Mountains hampered and eventually reduced the initial plan of a 400 km so the canal never reached the Bay of Biscay as initially planned. Overall, its construction took almost 100 years (from 1753 to 1849) and was eventually halted when railroads were built in northern Spain in the nineteenth century, superseding the project. The canal was most used during the 1850-1870 period, when up to 400 barges plied the canal towed by beasts of burden. Later on, the canal evolved into the spine of a huge irrigation system due to its relative inefficiency vs. rail freight as a means of transport. The locks on the canal were decommissioned in the twentieth century.

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