On a rocky spur, in the Altos de Barahona and looking towards the Escalote River, sits a small, completely walled medieval village known as Rello. It is located in the south of the province of Soria, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, Spain. This town has one of the best-preserved medieval attractions in Castile-León, to the extent that it has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest.
The walled complex of Rello, high up in the mountains, is worthy of a fairytale setting, where the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape stands out. But there is no more incredible sensation than to walk through its narrow cobbled streets which, together with the castle, of which only the walls remain, transport all those who visit it to an ancient era from the moment they pass through the entrance gates to the town.
However, very few people have the privilege of knowing about the existence of this extraordinary and peaceful place, today practically forgotten, where only 14 residents remain, the last witnesses of a way of life that is disappearing with them.
If Rello still preserves its medieval essence hundreds of years later, it is precisely because of its imposing wall. The entire area where the village sits is completely fortified. The wall is flanked by several towers and topped with battlements, which are perfectly preserved. In fact, of all the towns and villages in Soria established on a hill, such as Medinaceli, Calatañazor or Peñalcázar, Rello is the one that best preserves its entire walled enclosure.
Although there is little documentation on the origin of Rello, it is said that the site of the wall dates back to the 12th century, at a time marked by continuous Christian and Muslim invasions. This being the case, it is not surprising that it was decided to create a fortified perimeter to protect the inhabitants of the municipality. Later, in the 15th century, the fortress was reformed, when Rello had already become the domain of the Count of Coruña.
Rello Castle stands at one end of the wall. It is believed to have been built in the 15th century, although some historians point to its existence as early as the 11th century.
It is strange to walk through its streets and not hear: "el rollo de Rello es de yerro". This tongue twister refers to the iron bombard in the central square of the village, a piece of artillery from the 15th century that predates the cannon. It is an identifying feature of the municipality. According to its inhabitants, this iron bar was used as a place of expiation for the faults committed against the convicts, serving as an example and a lesson for the people of that time. In fact, the word "yerro" means fault or crime committed through ignorance or malice against divine and human laws.
The watchtower of Tiñón is another of the things to see in Rello, as it represents one of the most significant elements of the municipality, perhaps the most appreciated of them all due to its historical value.
To understand the significance of the watchtowers we must go back to the Muslim period in the Iberian Peninsula, during the 10th century. Almost two hundred years after the conquest of the territory, Islam retreated to the Duero valley, following the advance of the Christian kingdoms to the south. Faced with this problem, the Caliphate decided to reform its defensive systems by building a new system of surveillance and military observation through fortified towers, known as watchtowers. The main purpose of their construction was to provide a high, secure site from which to control and monitor the territory in the event of enemy invasion.
There are currently more than twenty known Muslim watchtowers in the province of Soria, strategically located in the Duero valley. These towers thus formed an integral part of the fortified itinerary of the Islamic cities. In the case of the Atalaya de Tiñón, this is dated between the 9th and 10th centuries.
The privilege of a village like Rello is that it not only has the artistic and historical beauty of its streets, but also the rich landscape of the Altos de Barahona, where its wall is located. Its views are impressive both from the top of its walls and from the road that leads to the region.
Despite being unknown to many, the Altos de Barahona are considered to be the most important moorlands in Spain, with a great ornithological value.