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Astorga and its cathedral
Ayuntamiento
Episcopal Palace of Astorga
Construction of the Astorga Cathedral began in the Middle Ages.

Coordinates: 42°27′30″N 6°3′30″W / 42.45833°N 6.05833°W / 42.45833; -6.05833 Astorga is a small town and episcopal see in the province of León in Spain. It lies southwest of the provincial capital of León, and is the head of the council (comarca) of La Maragatería. It is situated 868 m above sea-level, and has an area of 47 km². The river Tuerto flows through it. Its population (2004) is about 12,207 people.

The coat of arms of the town includes an oak branch.

Astorga lies in the area of the Maragatos, a small ethnic and cultural community with distinctive customs and architecture.

The city's main attractions are the Catedral de Santa María de Astorga of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Astorga and the 19th century Episcopal Palace (Palacio Espiscopal), which was designed by Antoni Gaudí.

Astorga lies along the French route of the Way of St. James (Spanish: Camino de Santiago). Saint Turibius of Astorga was bishop of the city in the 5th century.

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History

Astorga was originally a Celtic settlement which later become one of the Roman strongholds in the region they called Asturica. The Roman city was founded in 14 BC, being entitled by Emperor Octavian as Asturica Augusta. Ruins of Roman baths are still visible today.

Asturica was the main city in north-west Spain during the Roman Empire. Plinius called the city Urbs magnifica ("magnificent city"). The Via Platea went from Asturica (Astorga) to Emerita (Merida). One of the first three bishoprics in Spain was founded in Astorga, so the title of Bishop of Astorga is one of the oldest religious charges of Europe.

After the campaigns of Alfonso I of Asturias (739-757) against the Moors, the city was abandoned, being in the largely empty buffer zone between Moors and Christians known at the time as "The Desert of the Duero", and was part of the Repoblación ("repopulation") effort carried out a century later during the reign of Ordoño I of Asturias (850-866). Astorga suffered from decadence until the 11th century, when the city became one of the main points in the French route for the pilgrims to Saint Jacob's tomb in Compostela. Construction of the cathedral began in the 15th century and finished in the late 18th century.

During the Peninsular War, Astorga was besieged by the French Napoleonic troops. Astorga was the farthest town in the Iberian Peninsula in which the Emperor Napoleon resided.

Notable people

See also

External links

The wall of the town was built at the time of Ancient Rome.
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