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|Castilla y León||Castile and León|
Ponferrada is situated at an elevation of 508 m at the confluence of the Sil and Boeza rivers at the eastern end of the Berciana plain in the northwest of the province of León. The municipality is the capital of the Bierzo region and has a population of about 65,800 (2017).
Although there are indications of settlement in both the Neolithic (on the banks of the Sil), as in the Iron Age and in Roman times, it is not until the eleventh century that documentary evidence is available. In 1082 the bishop of Astorga ordered the construction of a bridge across the river Sil for the pilgrims of the Way of Saint James on their way to Santiago de Compostela. The modern name of the city derives from iron reinforcements added to the ancient bridge (Latin pons for 'bridge' and ferrata for 'iron'), whereas another theory interpretes the Latin origin as 'fortified bridge'. A church was founded in 1086 and the settlement around it was first owned by the Knights Templar. In 1180, King Fernando II of León granted the first privileges. When the Order left, Ponferrada passed thourgh several hands, among them the counts of Lemos. Following a dispute in the 16th century between the count and his son, the Catholic Monarchs (Fernando II of Aragón and Isabel I of Castile) claimed the city as their own. From then until the end of the Old Regime, a 'corregidor' was appointed to rule the city. The official status of a town was granted by King Alfonso XIII in 1908.
The Virgen de la Encina (Our Lady of the Oak) [left, no. 3627]
is the patroness of the El Bierzo region. There are many legends surrounding how the image of the Virgen de la Encina
was found. One of them is that around 450 AD the first image came from Jerusalem, brought by the then bishop of
Astorga. In the 9th century, it is said to have been hidden the image to save it from the Muslims, but with such
zeal that nothing was known of it until several centuries later. According to the legend, it was rediscovered within a
felled oak tree in 1300, on 8 September, the day of the Nativity of Our Lady. The image that is currently venerated
in the Basilica de la Encina in Ponferrada is from the 16th century.
[https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponferrada, https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponferrada, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponferrada;