He who does not know the town of Astorga, owes himself a visit :). There are many gems to be found in this area, including the the Town Hall Square and the enormous cathedral and, of course, the Episcopal Palace or Gaudí Palace. It seems incredible that anyone would dare to express in a building all our childhood dreams of knights and princesses. I don't know anyone who has not been bowled over when they first saw this place.
The construction of the current Gothic cathedral began in 1471 as an extension of the previous Romanesque (11th to 13th centuries) for its top place. It was enhanced with German Gothic influences from the colonies. The Cruceria Domes stand out as masterpieces. It houses the Hispano-Flemish altarpiece of the Passion (1530) and the altarpiece by Gaspar Becerra.
Astorga Cathedral holds the title of Apostolic "Holy Apostolic Cathedral" and consists of three parts:-The area of worship: Church Cathedral. -The area of culture: The diocesan Archive and Museum. -The area of charity: Hospital of San Juan Bautista. Entrance is free.
Although it seems a bit silly, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Astorga is the Town Hall, near Plaza Mayor, where you can see the maragatos, Juan Zancuda and Colasa, telling the time. Astorga is the capital of the region and its inhabitants are called "maragatos". On top of the town hall is the town clock with a bell on it and, on both sides of this, are two figures dressed in the costume of the region called maragatos. Its uniqueness is that every hour, these figures move and strike the bell with their mallets. The people that live here are used to it but it is a great sight for visitors.
One of the most beautiful and characteristic images of Astorga are the walls flanking the historic center, with the buildings of the Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace just above. It's an image worth seeing. Although there are remains of Roman walls in Astorga, which were built on top between the 13th and 15th centuries. Two sections have been perfectly preserved, one across the street from The Melgar, and the other between the Garden of the Synagogue and the walk to the Wall. They are impressively tall and are characterized by several circular cubes every 15 meters. From the Paseo de la Muralla, you can access the historic centre via a metal staircase, directly to the Episcopal Palace. Next to the staircase, there are remains of a Roman gate which used to give open to the city.
This monument stands in the Plaza del General Santocildes, a huge square located in a semi pedestrian area near the City Hall and the Plaza Mayor in the center of Astorga. The sculpture consists of a fountain and a tiered pedestal where a majestic lion is seizing an eagle. On the granite pedestal is an inscription, decorated with shields. This monument was erected in honor of those who died during the War of Independence, when Astorga fought a great battle against the French. This battle is commemorated theatrically throughout the city each year in memory. It is certainly worth a visit to admire its beauty.
Astorga's Plaza Mayor is in the historical and commercial centre of the city, in what may be the ancient Roman forum. It's rectangular and is surrounded by buildings with porches and balconies. It was designed by Francisco de la Lastra in the late 17th century. The most remarkable building in the square is the Baroque Town Hall, from 1765, topped by a clock with its famous personages. Another building worth visiting in this square is the "Botica", which still retains shelves and pharmacy bottles from the early in the last century. In addition, the square is the site of fairs and markets.
The Roman Square is in the centre of Astorga, and is surrounded by a conglomeration of interesting places like the Roman Museum (The Ergastula), the Church of St. Bartholomew, the former seminary of the Redemption Convent, the Church of San Francisco, and the Chapel of Santa Veracruz. Furthermore, there are remains of an ancient Roman house called Domus Mosaic in the middle. Some magnificent mosaics are found inside. There is also a memorial dedicated to the Brotherhood of Astorga with its august cities from two thousand years ago that surrounds the square.
Astorga has many remains from Roman times (it was the old "Asturica Augusta") which are housed in this interesting museum, located in the heart of the city. The museum is in the Roman building called "The Ergastula" which was fully renovated and expanded with the construction of two brand new floors. The building is listed as a National Monument. The exhibition includes important findings from the archaeological excavations that constitute the history of the city. Open on weekdays (except Monday) from 11.00 to 14.00 and 16.00 to 18.00 and holidays from 11.00 to 14.00. Admission is € 2.50. Just opposite is also another vestige of this era, Romana Square, where you can find the Domus del Mosaico. It has free admission and is worth a look.
The Cathedral Museum of Astorga is surprising in size. It has a large number of ecclesiastical parts that denote the city's importance in the past and also its variety of historical and artistic wealth. The small room with old "Maragotos" costumes, jewels and accessories is interesting. It's accessed through a side door in the atrium of the Cathedral and is in the former School of the Cathedral, the Library and the Archive. You can access the Cathedral through the Senate.
One of the busiest places in Astorga during the Astures and Roman Festival (late July) is the Plaza del General Santocildes, place of the Astur-Roman market, with about 60 stands selling food ( pies, cakes, teas etc...) and crafts (leather, wood, handmade toys, jewelery, etc). There are also game booths and a wooden carousel for children. The strange this is that during this time, everything is paid for in dinars, which trades for around 3 euros and everyone is dressed according to the time. I love these kinds of markets, they remind me of the medieval market during the festival of San Frolián in the city of León.
The Chapel of the Santa Vera Cruz is on the right side right next to the Church of San Francisco, in front of the Romana Square, with its Domus Mosaic being right in the center of Astorga. It's the Brotherhood of the Vera Cruz headquarters, and it's also where they keep some of the things that are related to the Easter procession during Holy Week, all of which are related to the Passion. Christ was tied to the column, the crucified Christ and Christ lying down. In another one of the parts of this square there's the Roman Museum and the Church of St. Bartholomew.
In terms of tourism, this city is known for being a part of the Camino de Santiago and for being near the headwaters of the Via de la Plata. Therefore, much of the tourism in Astorga is both cultural and religious. The city's broad historical and artistic heritage is mirrored in many of the main Astorga attractions, which include the cathedral, the Episcopal Palace, city hall, and Roman Ergastula. These are all places to visit in Astorga that have been declared to be of cultural interest. To be able to visit all these monuments and other attractions in Astorga, you can buy combined tickets for 4€.
Another one of the more interesting things to see in Astorga, although it's not listed in most guidebooks, is the Chocolate Museum. And for those looking for other things to do in Astorga, we recommend the Roman Route, which allows you to visit many remains of Roman antiquities preserved under the city. These include the Major and Minor Baths, the sewer network, the temple of Aedes Augusti, and the Ergastula.
As you can tell, most stuff to do in Astorga is related to its Roman past and it's worth getting to know its history. Discover more of what to do in Astorga by browsing minube.