Santiuste de San Juan Bautista is located in Segovia province in Spain. As you might have guessed, its name is larger than the village itself! On a normal day, I share the town with 600 other inhabitants, but as soon as summer starts those numbers multiply.
My village is located in the northwest of the province of Segovia, about 10 km from the border with Avila province, 10km of Valladolid, and 60km of Spain’s most famous Roman aqueduct. There is no industry other than two wineries.
Large grain fields surround the center, which might seem odd as we are in the middle of the famous Tierra de Pinares, which means “land of pines”. Every year from April to May, these waving fields turn bright green, and we seem to be living in the typical Windows desktop! If you want to get lost in the pine forest you need to head towards the river Voltoya, an affluent of the Douro.
You may have noticed that the name of the town contains two saints that have nothing to do with one another. Santiuste comes from San Justo, the first saint to whom the parish church was dedicated. At that time, Santiuste was part of the Villa and Tierra de Coca, and as such was called Coca Santiuste. Even nowadays, most of the towns in the area still carry the name Coca (Moral de Coca, Coca Bernuy, Villagonzalo Coca, Coca Plums, Coca Villeguillo, etc.). Being rather to our selves, we changed the name as soon as we had the chance, trading in Coca for San Juan Bautista, the current patron saint of our town.
The church was built in the Roman period but has been extensively remodeled throughout history, resulting in a collection of styles. The interior for example is completely baroque.
Initially ,the festivities in honor of San Juan were held on June 24. Around this date, many people are occupied harvesting grain. In order to give everyone the opportunity to participate, the celebrations were pushed back to August 29. This is also the day the church remembers the beheading of John the Baptist, whose head was requested by king Herod for his stepdaughter Salome. Despite all this history, the festivities are not limited to religious motives!
The Virgin Carmen is our female patron saint. She is celebrated on July 16th with large processions.
I agree, it is very odd to honor the patron saint of sailors while we live nowhere near the sea. This veneration of the Virgin Carmen finds its origin with the order of the barefoot Carmelites who used to reside in our town. The only thing that is left of their heritage is a single stone depicting the order’s shield.
After all this history let me end by showing you some different aspects of my beautiful town. And if you ever pass near Madrid in August, don’t be shy and hop over for a visit!