Even if there exists older traces of occupation, the actual population settled in the Valley of Boeza takes its origin in the medieval re-population process which took place between the IX and XI century, as for Bembibre, which is now the capital of the Cuenca area.
It means “bien vivir” - live well. There you can taste the famous “botillo del Bierzo”, especially during its festival. This traditional contest is celebrated each year, gathering thousands of persons loving this meal. The Old City of Bembibre is located in the highest part of it occupied by the first settlers, around a castle dating from the XIV century, which has disappeared and has been converted into a square. The Old Town is surrounded with a lot of older houses traditionally built and narrow streets which go down the parochial church of San Pedro, of roman origin. It makes no doubt that the sanctuary of Ecce Homo is the most significant temple for the devotees of the Valley de Boeza, who are organizing a procession in front of the older Christ every seven years.
Following the higher course of the Boeza river, the traveller can visit the villages of Albares, where there is a very nice church dating from the XVI century with Mudejar coffering; then Igüeña; Boeza; Rivera de Folgoso; Folgoso de la Rivera, famous for its nativity scene, with handcrafted animated characters and details; then reaching the Colinas (hills) del Campo de Martín Moro.
It is a place where beauty is reigning and is preserving a culture which has almost disappeared. The village is settled in a valley surrounded with the mountains of the Sierra de Gistredo, between the high tops of Arcos de Agua and the Pico Catoute. Vivid and triumphing nature is present in the grasslands, woods and cultivated fields, remaining happily green all year round with the many streams and sources that are running through this land before reaching Boeza.
La Sierra de Gistredo
It is a landscape covered with birch and holly trees woods, with oak trees and locust trees painting the scenery with ocher tones in autumn, and furthermore, with yew trees, hazels, redcurrants and blueberries, flowers and wild plants forming such a beautiful natural environment that is satisfying anyone looking at it. The surroundings are inviting for the practice of mountain sports, like for example hang gliding, which lovers are celebrating yearly meetings precisely in this area.
Noceda del Bierzo
This is a perfect opportunity for some health tourism. The traveler can cover the Route of the Springs, an itinerary taking him or her further to these different springs: fuentes del Azufre, de la Salud, del Rubio, de Juan Álvarez, and the one of Canalijo, all of them presenting surprising curing properties. Moreover, have a look at the spectacular waterfalls of las Peñas de Lagualta.
THE VALLEY OF THE SIL
It is a valley rich in charcoal deposits, situated at the limit with Asturias, and it is cut through by other valleys and streams; other small villages are settled since ancient times on their slopes. Evidences for this are the caves paintings and the majestic views of Librán, the surprising Forts, or the Roman bridges of Torero and Páramo.
The economical basis of the inhabitants of the High Bierzo changed dramatically in 1918 with the construction of the railway connecting Ponferrada to Villablino. From a food-processing and cattle based economy it changed into a coal mining industry. The railway connection transported not only passengers but also the coal of the Steel Industry of Ponferrada for the whole valley down to Ponferrada. Nowadays it is not possible to travel along the Sil Valley by train, even if there is a project aiming at reestablishing this railroad for tourist transportation. At the limits of the Sil the villages are named after the river: Santa Marina del Sil, Toreno, Langre, Matarrosa del Sil, Santa Cruz del Sil, Páramo del Sil, Susañe del Sil, Cuevas del Sil, Palacios del Sil, Vilariño del Sil, etc, are villages composing this valley which main economical resources are coal mining. The strip mines, the mineral-panning sites, pitheads, etc, can be seen in this area of the Bierzo, offering a different but strange landscape.
The High Bierzo is a land of contrasts divided into two valleys. The traveler will not only see mining landscapes but a lush vegetation, thousand-year-old monuments, historical villages, a traditional gastronomy and endless possibilities which will help you to get to better the Bierzo.
Information taken from the web: http://www.bierzoalto.com/blog/entorno/