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León, Capital Española de la Gastronomía 2018

Centro de Interpretación de las Tierras Bañezanas
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Published in en-history

The first historical references to La Bañeza

The first historical references to La Bañeza territory allude to the Astur character of its inhabitants. Near the current site of the town, in San Martín de Torres, the Astur town of Bedunia is  in all likelihood located, mentioned in several Roman geographical resources, such as the so-called Antonine Itinerary, which gives us a thorough account of the importance of this space. 

 
Gold, metal abundance and agricultural wealth of the territory, led to the conquest of Rome between 29 to 19 B.C., culminating during the reign of Emperor Augustus. From then until the 5th century of our era, La Bañeza area was part of Conventus Iuridicus Asturum, within the province of Gallaecia, covering, during the late Roman Empire, the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula.
 
Its position in a real crossroads made it an area of dense human occupation and valued by several peoples during the Germanic invasions that ended with Rome. In the middle of the 5th century, Visigoths and Swabians fought in the environs of Bañeza, in the now deserted village of Hinojo (Fennel), for the dominion of these lands, leaving the winning victory on the Goths side. It is likely that during these centuries, 5th to 8th centuries, there was a smaller settlement near the present church of San Salvador, perhaps linked to a religious settlement.

 
 The Muslim invasion of 711 devastated these lands, as the so-called Via de la Plata that crosses them was one of the thoroughfares of penetration used by the Arab armies in the conquest.
 
In the middle of the 9th century, by order of Count Gatón of El Bierzo, the current La Bañeza location was born formed from two different population centres. San Pedro de Périx founded one with the population of Pereje (Bierzo), another one with Mozarabs coming from Cordoba was settled around San Salvador, calling that habitat Bani Eiza which means place belonging to the descendants of Jesus. From the fusion of Cordovan Mozarabs and Bercians, the essence of openness and cosmopolitan nature of La Bañeza would be born as well as its first market and two parishes: San Pedro, which would eventually move to Santa Maria and San Salvador, which, as a family monastery, would be offered to the Bishop San Genadio in the early tenth century.
 
At the end of this century, Al-Mansur's troops destroyed the monastery, which would be recovered at the beginning of the 11th century and again offered to the episcopate. The subsequent peace and its location on the Via de la Plata, one of the historic Pilgrimage Roads  to Santiago de Compostela, marks part of its vital essence.
 
But above all, the medieval history of La Bañeza is the forging of its commercial and economic head character of a territory. Its market, famous throughout the Kingdom of León and, after 1230, in the Crown of Castile, is alive and active to this day.
 
 During the modern age, our town was to become the head of the Marquisate with the same name in the hands of the Bazán family. To this prosperous town, merchants, artisans and traders arriving from distant lands of Europe would come, mainly Flemish and French ones specialized in fabrics, one of the most important trades of the town. Seat of the Adelantamiento of the Kingdom of León during part of the seventeenth century, La Bañeza became an active and open reference place of the Crown.
 
Like other cities, it suffered the consequences of the Napoleonic occupation and the sufferings of the Carlist wars. In the late 19th century, in 1895, it officially received the title of city from the hands of the Queen Regent Maria Christina of Habsburg- Lorraine, on behalf of her son Alfonso XIII.
 
Today it is a wise city built upon the open and cosmopolitan character of all its people since ancient times. A city that receives people with open arms, a city that is festive, carnival-loving, but also serious and rigorous in business, commercial and active. A city where everybody is welcome.

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