Turismo por los menhires de Valdeolea

Route menhirs of Valdeolea

Among the many attractions of Valdeolea highlights especially its eight nailed megalithic menhirs alignment The menhirs have been restored, as most were broken, and relocated on the ground. We can find along a route of 12 km. (One way) that cross the valley in search of the majestic monoliths which to discover dream landscapes and bucolic corners. They are well marked and can be crossed in about 4 hours on foot. Elapses mostly by agricultural tracks, also suitable for tour by bicycle. Of course, you can make by car, but to get to any of the menhirs have to walk a few meters through trails or climbing a hill.

Tell the neighbors Espinosa and Mata de Hoz that stone was kept nailing and slightly tilted in the middle of a river plain of Camesa river, had been launched by the legendary strongman Samson from the Peñas, a nearby hill, being stuck in this place. Leaving behind the legend, the history of the menhirs of Valdeolea takes us back to about 5,000 years ago, the late Neolithic period, when the first groups of farmers settled in the Valley Camesa river, occupying its wide valleys and surrounding mountains .

The mystery of the menhirs of Valdeolea

We do not know very well what its usefulness and that meant these huge masses of stone stuck vertically in the ground, while defying time and men. They have the distinction of being in limestone area while they are sandy material, which suggests that they were transported for kilometers. If you think about the incredible effort that in those ancient times had to be used to move these stones, some of more than 4 tons, is undoubtedly its location very important, for reasons still unknown,. They are an unmistakable sign of a structured and cooperative society with the necessary hierarchy for the development of such complex projects.

The curious thing about the menhirs that we are in the region is practically its rectilinear alignment and orientation of its main faces to southeast. Many hypotheses have emerged around the location of these rocks, from the astronomical interpretation and Sun Worship, to delimitation of grazing areas or road markings. If we add that we face the greatest concentration of megalithic evidence of this kind known in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, the unknowns about its meaning and usefulness multiply.

Some of the menhirs of Valdeolea have engravings and small holes apparently made with metal instruments. Crosses from medieval times which would have served to "Christianize" these elements, considered a vestiges of paganism. Holes trying to land division agreements, made in medieval or modern times and were sealed with an inscription on the menhir from which they viewed the territory divided.

All these theories about the meaning and origin makes them even more attractive for a future visit, I hope realicéis to admire the route, the standing stones and the strange symbols. Do you dare to discover the mystery of these stone giants that our ancestors left behind forever in Cantabria as silent witnesses to their presence?



The menhirs are large stones and elongated, vertically you nailing on the floor in prehistoric times. Your name, men = stone, hir = long, comes from the Breton, Celtic language preserved in the French peninsula of Brittany, where menhirs are very abundant. Precisely in that area called Armorica in antiquity, is the famous village of Gauls in which live Asterix and his friend Obelix, the menhir delivery man. Most people immediately associate the word menhir with these comic characters and the Roman conquest of Gaul. However, it is important to clarify that the menhirs were not placed by the Celts or Gauls, as is implied in the aforementioned comics. On the contrary,they are much older prehistoric monuments, almost 3,000 years before the Gauls and Romanization.

The route of the menhirs

The route, approved as a hiking trail Small Route 61 (PR-S 61) by the Cantabrian Federation of Mountaineering, begins in Mataporquera. From the church of Santa Eulalia we begin to explore one of the oldest, most fascinating and magical areas of Cantabria. This is where we find the opening panel, with general information and slopes, distances and estimated times. Follow the road to the treatment plant, then we continue along the track to reach a junction where you continue along the left to reach a pine forest. then turn right and with a slight rise, reach the hill where is the first menhir, "Piedrahita" also known by the significant name of "The Cannon" . Is 3.68 meters high and is nicknamed because before his restoration was still slanted, but so inclined reminiscent of a cannon.

And back on our steps and following the route we find the second menhir that is the menhir "The Peñuco" located in the area known us Mandafril, going on Bercedo's town, is 4 meters high. Tending towards the north, reaching a new crossing next to which there is a spring with remains of an old laundry (Las Fuentes) find the third menhir, the menhir "The Cabezudo" located in the area known as El Olmo, is the largest of those found in Valdeolea and one of the largest in Spain, with 4.85 meters. So you can enjoy as it was in his day, he has needed to be restored as it was broken.

The menhir four "The Llaneda" , embraced by a metal structure,is 3.78 meters high, and had been torn down and moved from its unknown original location, so it has been located in this place easily accessible from the road. The next is together with the turnoff to the town of La Cuadra, and is the menhir "The Puentecilla" is one of the smallest, with 2.35 meters high, having been restored as it was broken. And walking in the direction of Olea and we see the menhirs "The Matorra I" and "II Matorra" are together and are the smallest, with 1.60 and 2.20 meters respectively.

To complete the route, it is necessary to reach the Menhir "Peñahincada" also known as "Samson Stone" has 3 meters high and a legend says that the legendary strongman threw the stone from a nearby hill and being stuck in this place. All are well marked and are very easy to find.

At this point, we can decide whether to go to the village of Mata de Hoz extending the excursion another 2 kilometers , or go back to Reinosilla and return to Mataporquera by the road, being 7 kilometers with little traffic and very quiet.

As a curiosity, we mention that 3 km south of Mataporquera there is a menhir ninth, which is not included in this path to be located in the neighboring town of Palencia, Villanueva de Henares. And about Reinosilla we can find the megalithic Laja and "menhir-bridge" that could belong to a destroyed dolmen, being brought to this place to serve rustic bridge over a watercourse.

Informative map of the route of the menhirs

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  • The return walk is a little heavy. Especially if you go with children valued using the car for a stretch, or divide the route in a couple of stages.
  • If you walk through any livestock hatch leave it as you found it.
  • Care environment and signals that you will meet.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, the walk is through the countryside and do not forget a sweater or windbreaker also in summer rainfall and temperatures are highly variable, is part of the charm of the area.
  • enjoys nature, is an area surrounded by meadows, salcerales riparian forests of oak, beech and holly trees.
  • If you like the wild and depending on the time of year you can pick up some mushrooms and eat some blackberries
  • The historical and cultural heritage of the valley is great. In a mere forty kilometers is the largest concentration of Romanesque churches in Europe.
  • Do not forget to taste the bread and Olea's cakes (all cooked in a wood oven), heather honey, Reinosilla's garlic sausage ​​or Mataporquera's black pudding.
  • Learn signage panels and signs:
Enjoy a valley as reachable as unknown!

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