Petrified Sacred Trees for Christianity
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is rich in heritage on stone; and the proliferation of stone crosses at the entrances of the municipality is a fact, although more in the past than at present, due to the disappearance of some of them.
Crossings were already used by the Romans at the beginning of the roads. Later, from the Middle Ages onwards, they were placed at the entrances to villages as a symbol of Christian faith, but also of conquest (towns conquered or reconquered from the Muslims), warning outsiders that they were entering a town loyal to Christianity.
In this way, the believer found relief and protection from Heaven when he saw one of these emblematic figures, located at the exits/entrances of the towns, especially on busy roads, which were usually those that communicated a population with the neighboring ones. In this way, the transit of people, animals and goods was protected according to the popular imagination.
For a Christian to see a stone cross placed him emotionally in a Catholic setting, in a place safe from the devil in a God-fearing society, Purgatory and Hell.
This denomination as Cruceros/Cruces de Término comes from ancient times, inspired specifically in the Roman culture in allusion to the pagan deity TerminusThis was an example of demarcation based on stone milestones to mark the ascription of a town or territory to the faith of the recovered Catholicism (first after the Reconquest and then after the Counter-Reformation), thus delimiting the space they symbolically protected.
In Santa Cruz we have the following:
- Cruz del Parque de la Hispanidad: at the entrance on the access road to the highway, the main entrance to the town. This stone cross was always located in the street of the Port, and was changed to its new location by municipal decision a few years ago. On its shaft we can appreciate engraved tomb and protection crosses. And among the phrases found in the inscriptions on its base is the date 1668.
- Ñuflo de Chaves Park Cross: at the entrance on the Herguijuela road, where we can see how a Roman wine press weight has been used as a base. A cross that once marked the beginning of the settlement before the construction of the Real de las Eras Urbanization.
- Cancho Gordo” Cross. It is smaller in size and is on top of a large rock with that name. It is located at the entrance to the village on Prado Street (today Real de las Eras Urbanization), the old road to Trujillo.
- Cross of the City Hall, of late Gothic typology and wreathed shaft. It hangs from the façade of the former Royal Jail (now the town’s Town Hall).
- Cross in the Plazuela de Ramón y Cajal (small square next to the Plaza Mayor). In the times of the Inquisition it was used as a place of shame, punishment and public scorn for the convicts.
- Cemetery Cross. On the old road to Abertura, and in the vicinity of the Hermitage of San Juan, to whose sacred complex it belonged. Since the 19th century, the construction of the Cemetery included it within its enclosure. It is the only stone cross that has a representation of the Crucified.