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Ponferrada (from the Latin Pons Ferrata, Iron Bridge) is a city in the Province of León, Castile and León, Spain. It lies on the Sil River, a tributary of the river Miño, in the El Bierzo valley, completely surrounded by mountains. It is the last major town along the French route of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) before it reaches its destination of Santiago de Compostela. In 2008, it had a population of 69,769.

In pre-Roman times the region was populated by the Astures, a Hispano-Celtic Gallaecian people. They were conquered by Emperor Augustus in the Astur-Cantabrian Wars (29-19 BC) and the area quickly became the largest mining center of the Empire during the Roman period, where gold and other metals and minerals were extracted. Numerous Roman mining sites are still visible in the area, one of the most spectacular being Las Médulas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The modern name of the city derives from the iron reinforcements added to the ancient bridge over the river Sil (Latinpons for "bridge" and ferrata for "iron"), commissioned by Bishop Osmundo of Astorga to facilitate the crossing of the Sil River to pilgrims in their way to Santiago de Compostela.Ponferrada lies in the Way of St. James, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and every year many pilgrims pass through the city in their way to Santiago de Compostela. Las Médulas, ancient Roman gold mines also included in the UNESCOWorld Heritage Site List, are only a few kilometres away from the city.Ponferrada is also noted for its Castillo de los Templarios, a Templar castle which covers approximately 16,000 square meters. In 1178, Ferdinand II of León donated the city to the Templar order for protecting the pilgrims on the Way of St. James who passed through El Bierzo in their road to Santiago de Compostela.The castle hosted the Knights Templar's Grand Master of Castille. However, the Templars were only able to enjoy the use of their fortress for about twenty years before the order was disbanded and its properties confiscated in 1311. Several noble houses fought over the assets until Alfonso XI alloted them to the Count of Lemos in 1340. Finally the Catholic Monarchs incorporated Ponferrada and its castle into the Crown in 1486. As with many other historical sites in Europe, many of the blocks that at one point formed the walls of the castle were removed and used in local construction projects. Extensive restoration works are ongoing.
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Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory:Europe
Subcategory Detail:Spain
Keywords:Dünya Mirası, El Camino, El Camino de Santiago, Espagna, MAAILMANPERINTÖ, Pasaules mantojuma, Pasaulio paveldo, Patrimoine Mondial, Patrimonio Mondiale, Patrimonio de la Humanidad, Património Mundial, Route of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Spanien, Spanje, Unesco, Way of St James, Welterbe, Werelderfgoed, Wirt Dinji, afbeelding, foto, foto's, jpg, photo, photos, picture, pictures, världsarv, Światowe Dziedzictwo, التراث, العالمي, مواقع