We thought we’d spend our last day in Segovia at a nearby Natural Park. I had read that there is a beautiful hike down to the Hermitage of San Frutos. From the surface, the land looks just like the rest of Castilla y León, the state we are in: dry, brown, and flat. But then we got to the ridge overlooking the gorges (hoces) cut out of the limestone by the River Duratón.
We could see the Hermitage on a point overlooking the river….
…and had a picnic lunch in the abandoned monastery. Frutos and his two brothers, from a wealthy family in the 8th century, sold all their family belongings when their parents died, donated the money to the church, and went to the Rio Duratón to live solitary lives (separate even from each other) in the caves of the limestone cliffs. They were later recognized as saints and are the patron saints of Segovia. The Benedictine monks built a monastery here in the 11th century to commemorate San Frutos; they occupied it until the 19th century.
But the most amazing thing to me were the birds. The land has been declared a natural park to protect a population of vultures who nest here. They flew so close overhead at one point (maybe 40 feet above us) that we could hear the air rushing through the feathers on their wings and see their heads turning from side to side as they looked for food.