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"Castilla" is "the land of castles" .... evidently, visiting the medieval castles of the place is one of the "must see" activities. The highest concentrations of castles are perhaps placed alomg the Duero river, in the provinces of Valladolid and Soria. The first one is predominant of 15th century castles (there is a local style, known as "school of Valladolid") the later includes more ancient castles (10-11th century, some of them of Arabic facture).
As individual castle, the Alcazar (from Arabic Al-Qasar, "the castle") of Segovia is also a must see.
You can visit my pages on Valladolid and Soria, for more information.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
In spite of being off the most beaten tourist routes and too far from Madrid as to keep day-trippers away, Salamanca has a surprising international and jovial atmosphere that coexists with a conservative Castilian society. This unique combination is due to its renowned University, one of the oldest in Europe, which has turned Salamanca into a city of culture and nightlife, as well as one of the favourite destinations for students of Spanish as a foreign language. As a matter of fact, around 40.000 of the 160.000 inhabitants of Salamanca are students at the University, many of them foreigners learning Spanish. In this way, most of the visitors to Salamanca do not just pass over like in most touristy towns, but get engaged into the city life and become part of the urban picture.
Updated Sep 12, 2008
Valladolid, the capital of Castile and Leon, is along with Madrid and Saragossa, the only relatively big city in the central plains of Spain (over 300.000 inhabitants).
Valladolid held the honour to be the main seat of the Spanish Court for many years until it was definitely moved to Madrid in the XVI century. There are many jewels left from that period of splendour in Valladolid, but it is true that the flight of thousands of people from the neighbouring rural areas in the second half of the 20th century led to an urban chaos from which the city is slowly but firmly recovering.
Among the works of art that remain from the time of splendour in Valladolid, the so-called "plateresque" buildings stand out with full rights. The ornamentally carved façades of the Saint Paul church and the Saint Gregory college are worth the visit to Valladolid. The latter hosts the National Museum of Sculpture, a must for anyone interested in Spanish religious iconography. Here pictured is a detail of the Renaissance courtyard of Saint Gregory.
Updated Sep 4, 2008
The first to take into account when planning a trip to Castile and Leon is its huge size. This is, by far, the largest national subdivision within the EU. As a matter of fact, Castile and Leon is about the same size as countries like Portugal or Hungary or more than three times bigger than Belgium, although it has only one fourth of its population. Indeed its 2.5 million inhabitants would comfortably fit into the population of the city of Madrid and there would still be room for another million. With these figures, it is easy to understand that this is a very sparsely populated area, with one of the lowest population densities in Europe.
Administratively, the Autonomous Community was created in the early 80s by merging the former regions of Castile (from which Cantabria and Rioja were segregated) and Lion. The result was reminiscent to the medieval kingdom of Castile and Leon, but not well accepted by all of its citizens.
The region is divided into 9 provinces which bear all the names of their respective capital cities: Avila, Burgs, Lion, Palence, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valley of Olid and Zamora.
Updated Aug 21, 2008
No matter which road you choose to approach Segovia (pop. 55.000), the perspective you will have in front of you will be fairy-tale-like. Its wealth in monuments deserves way more time than a simple day-trip, but for those on a tight schedule, even a short encounter with the Beautiful Lady will be more than rewarding. Despite its small size, Segovia has all it takes to be a perfect tourist destination: close enough to a major city, an extremely rich artistic heritage and a spectacular natural backdrop with plenty of possibilities for adventure sports.
As for the downsides (yes, there are some as well): the nightlife is not too exciting, the accommodation offer does not match the category of the city and the gastronomy is below the standards expected in other areas in Spain, particularly once you have exhausted the specialities of the conservative local food scene (roast baby pork, lamb, bread soup...).
This picture shows a detail of the Roman aqueduct, one of the landmarks of Segovia.
Updated Jul 28, 2008
Absolutely amazing! This aqueduct is considered as Segovia's leading monument and it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Roman engineering. This is also considered as the largest and most preserved aqueduct of all time!
Updated Jan 30, 2006
Truly magical, this majestic castle is said to be the inspiration behind Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
People can visit the castle which now serves as a museum from 10:00 a.m. to 19:00 p.m.. in summer ((April-September) and 10:00 a.m. to 18:00 p.m in winter (October-March).
REDUCE TICKET 2.50EUR
TOWER OF JUAN II 1.50EUR
GUIDED TOUR (Supplement) 1.00EUR
Updated Jan 28, 2006
Address: Plaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia, Segovia, Spain
Phone: 921. 460759 - 921. 460452
The hilltop castle at Peñafiel is still impressive after so many years of forsake and neglect. From the distance, it looks like a vessel anchored in the Duero bank.
The castle has been recently renovated and now hides a modern construction in its core that hosts the Wine Museum of the town.
The area is indeed rich in wine cellars, many of them family run in the old town and some can even be visited.
Written Apr 28, 2005
Medina de Rioseco is the capital of the Western part of the Land of Fields. In spite of the fact that the sea is hundreds of kilometres away, it is dubbed the town of the Admirals, as it got its biggest splendour under the Enríquez family, which held the title of the Admirals of Castille.
The city lost its castle and the palace of the Admirals during the Napoleonic wars, but its amazing churches and quaint arcaded streets still stand there.
Written Apr 28, 2005
Medina del Campo is the second largest town in the province of Valladolid. During the Middle Ages it hosted the most important trade fair in the Kingdom of Castille.
Not far away from the city limits stands the Castle of La Mota, one of the largest and best preserved fortresses in Spain. This one is untypically build with bricks in the Mudejar style.
Updated Apr 28, 2005
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