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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Spain produces the only coffee in Europe
13 April 2021

 

 

To get to know the only coffee grown in Europe, you have to go to the Agaete valley, where a few producers make one of the most gourmet coffees in the world. Coffee is obtained from the roasted seeds of the coffee tree fruits, which are usually grown in countries with a tropical or subtropical climate. It is also one of the most consumed beverages in the world, although not everything that you find under that name in a cup, deserves to be called coffee.

Agaete is a quiet town in the northeast of the island of Gran Canaria, and at the foot of the cliffs of Tamadaba where a valley opens and is home to truly gastronomic gems. Under the shade of orange, mango, avocado and guava trees and other tropical fruits that grow in volcanic soils, a treasure native to Africa is secretly harvested: coffee. There are records of the existence of coffee plantations in the Canary Islands since the 18th century but it is still little known to the general public.

 

 

The Canary archipelago has always been an important point for the entry and exit of goods from all over the world. Coffee plantations began to be cultivated on the island of Tenerife, where its Botanical Garden of La Orotava (founded in 1788) was a benchmark in the dissemination of new exotic plants because there the plants were acclimatised. Apparently, the maritime trade between Tenerife and Agaete facilitated the entry of coffee into the region.

Today the coffee tradition is guarded by about 30 small and medium producers, who take care of the Arabica coffee plants of the Typica variety. This is a variety native to Ethiopia, which has fallen into disuse in most producing countries since coffee trees have a small yield and are also prone to many pests. On the other hand, Typica coffee is special for its flavour and aroma. Despite being a vulnerable variety, in Agaete it finds optimal growing conditions, thanks to the fact that the thermometers rarely drop below 17 or 18º. Coffee is grown there at an altitude of only 400 meters, while in other parts of the world they need 800 to 1,300 meters.

 


Agaete's coffee production barely exceeds 2,500 kg. per year and are grown in small coffee plantations or even in home gardens. The plants receive almost no human intervention: few producers prune the trees and the soil fertilizer is associated with the fruit plants in the environment. That is why the cultivation of this coffee is completely natural.

In the recovery of coffee plantations and maintenance of the crops, the Agroagaete Association and its program to enhance the value of coffee has played a crucial role. The entire organisation is self-managed and they have a small community area to process the coffee and roast it where, those who want to, can also package it for marketing purposes.

 

 

After collecting the red fruits of the coffee one by one and manually, in May they begin to make it. Plants need at least three years to bear fruit, and every seven kilos of fresh beans can only extract one kilo of roasted coffee. Normally in the market, 90% of the coffee profits are in the hands of distributors and coffee shops. This means that farmers get no more than 10% of what they produce. Since 2002, Agroagaete has tried to reverse this unfair profit logic, seeking a fair price for those who care for the coffee plantations and maintaining complete traceability of the coffee. All this gives the final product a guarantee of the highest quality.

Typica coffee from Agaete is very aromatic, smooth and enveloping. One finds aromas of chocolate, liquorice, fruits, a touch of citrus and tobacco. The flavour in the mouth is surprisingly long-lasting, while the acidity is medium but not overpowering. This coffee has less caffeine than, for example, the Robusta variety (one of the most consumed in Spain). 

The coffee that is produced in the Agaete Valley is not only used for self-consumption or its commercialisation, but it is also a tourist attraction for the area. The larger farms organise guided tours of the coffee plantations and offer tastings. 

Finca La Laja is one of the most important farms on the island that grow and make coffee, as well as oranges (of the Navel variety) and tropical fruits, which they pamper over their 12 hectares of farmland. It was also featured in Masterchef Spain.

Finca La Laja has a pleasant surprise though: tropical wines made in the "Los Berrazales" winery. Its wines are produced with varieties of Listán negro and Tintilla grapes, planted and cultivated by hand by the family. They also make a naturally sweet muscatel wine with malvasia, matured in French oak barrels and a semi-dry, with muscatel and malvasia varieties ((Gold Medal in the Agrocanarias 2010 regional competition), which is an explosion of aromas.

Finca La Laja is one of the most important farms and has a pleasant surprise: tropical wines made in the Los Berrazales winery. Its wines are produced with strains of Listán negro and Tintilla, planted and cultivated by hand by the family. They also make a natural sweet muscatel wine with malvasia, passed through French oak barrels and a semi-dry, with muscatel and malvasia varieties (Gold Medal in the Agrocanarias 2010 regional competition), which is an explosion of aromas.

Unlike wines, it is difficult to find Agaete coffee in shops (except in the town). Agaete coffee is a product that cannot be found anywhere. It is a rather special type of coffee, which does not have an annual harvest, not many kilos are produced each harvest, which makes it a scarce product that few places are able to offer. However, on the island, there are some establishments where you can buy this unique coffee.

Obviously, Finca La Laja as mentioned earlier (also known as the Finca de Los Berrazales), is the epicentre where Agaete coffee is sold.  you can get Agaete coffee in its purest form, in grain or ground from the farm itself.

You can also buy Agaete coffee in the Corte Ingles in its Gourmet section, however, be aware that they do not have it in stock that often, so if you see it grab it!

http://www.bodegalosberrazales.com



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An Underground Museum
06 April 2021

Beautiful calcareous formations and 4,000-year-old graves are concealed under the village of Prádena de la Sierra in the province of Segovia. Discovered in 1932, the cave of Los Enebralejos has more than 3.5 kilometres of underground galleries that were used as a necropolis since the late Neolithic period.

 

 

In 1995, around 500 meters were made user-friendly and visitors can now go inside and contemplate wonders such as the Wall of Colors. The most interesting part, however, are the numerous graves containing ceramic vases, bone tools and food offerings, as well as drawings and schematic engravings that were discovered inside the Burial and Sanctuary rooms. Outside the cave, there is a recreation of a prehistoric settlement complete with mud and wooden huts.

 

 

Another highlight close by is a circular six-kilometre walking trail that goes through the largest forest of holly in the Central System mountain range. And in between the nearby municipalities of Sigueruelo and Arcones, there lies one of Spain’s best-preserved forests of sabinas, a type of juniper: the Enebra de Sigueruelo.

 

 



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The price of wine affects how much you enjoy it
01 April 2021

We all probably shared this intuition and a study carried out by the University of Basel (Switzerland) has corroborated it: the price of wine influences, as much as we imagined, in the perception of the taste of consumers.

This is due to a simple mix between marketing and psychology: After paying, for example, 100 euros for a bottle of wine, would we be willing to say that it is not good? The study carried out by a team of psychologists led by Christoph Patrick Werner has shown that when it comes to wine tasting - an activity aimed at pleasing the senses, especially when we talk about taste and smell- the tasting experience is influenced by many more factors than just these two senses. The good taste of wine could be more related than we thought to the price it is believed to have.

For the purposes of the study, a tasting was carried out with 140 people. The participants had to give a grade to three wines of different prices (cheap, medium and expensive). They were required to assess the taste, intensity, aroma and how much they actually "liked" them. They repeated tasting in three different situations: seeing the real price on the bottle, seeing a false price, and no price.

The meeting at the University of Basel in Switzerland started like any other. As soon as the participants began to arrive, they were placed at individual tables and asked not to speak with their neighbours, so that their opinions on the wines to be tasted did not influence each other.

When testing the taste-intensity ratings for the samples of real, fake, or no-priced wines, the most expensive wines were rated as having the most intense flavour. However, although the ratings for "liking" did not differ for wines with a real price or those that did not indicate a price, the false price increase for cheap wines had a significant influence on the ratings for "liking". However, in the opposite case, fake discounted prices for premium wines had no effect on the "liking" ratings.

According to the researchers, their results coincided with similar studies carried out previously in which it was observed that the levels of "liking" expressed with respect to a particular wine were much more related to its price than we had believed.

On the other hand, other studies indicate that the appreciation of its intensity remained stable and generally did not change - even when they tried to influence it through prices. In order to unify these results, the team measured both variables. Here, too, their results coincided and showed that the subjective appreciation of a wine's flavour depends not only on its intrinsic qualities but also on information or external stimuli, such as the price that it is said to have.

Werner's team has thus shown how effective the marketing technique is known as 'price signal' is. Knowing the price of things influences the consumer experience differently and that is also true for wine!



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The Mystery of Christopher Columbus's final resting place
23 March 2021

 

Just inside the Cathedral door of Seville’s massive cathedral stands a monument to Christopher Columbus. His tomb is held aloft by four allegorical figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain during Columbus’ life, Castille, Aragon, Navara and Leon.

The tomb was one of the last additions to the cathedral, installed in 1899. It was designed by the sculptor Arturo Melida, and was originally installed in Havana before being moved to Seville after Spain lost control of Cuba.

Columbus’ body began its final rest in Valladolid, Spain where he died in 1506 at the age of 55. However this was not the end of his adventures. Initially he was buried in Valladolid, but was moved shortly thereafter to Seville, by orders of his son, Diego.  Diego, meanwhile travelled to the Dominican Republic to begin construction of a cathedral to hold his father's remains, in accordance with his final wishes. Unfortunately, Diego died in 1526 before he could make that happen, and he was, in turn, interred in Seville next to his father. Both father and son stayed there for another 16 years. When the Cathedral of Santa Maria was completed in the Dominican Republic, Diego's widow put organised to have both bodies moved there.

In 1542, the remains were again moved, this time to Colonial Santo Domingo, in what is now the Dominican Republic, where they joined the body of Christopher's brother, Bartholomew, who had died in Santo Domingo the year before. The body was laid to rest in the newly completed Cathedral, for a couple of centuries, at least.

Then, in 1795 when Spain lost control of the Dominican Republic, they took the explorer's body with them to the other Spanish stronghold in the Caribbean: Havana, Cuba.
100 years later, Columbus’s remans made their final voyage back home to Seville, and were placed in the Cathedral where you can visit him today.

Unfortunately, after all that effort, in 1877, back in the Dominican Republic, nearly a century late, a construction worker working on the Cathedral renovation uncovered a lead box inscribed with the words "The illustrious and excellent man, Don Colon, Admiral of the Ocean Sea.”

At first pass, it seemed obvious that the Spanish must have, in their haste, taken the wrong box. But there's a catch - both father, Christopher, and son, Diego, were known as "Don Colon" in their lifetimes, and both held the same title "Admiral of the Ocean Sea".

By 1898, when the Spanish were pushed out of Cuba by the Americans, both the Spaniards and Dominicans had decided firmly that the remains in their own possession were the authentic item, and that the other must be holding onto the son. Therefore, in Seville an elaborate cathedral tomb was prepared for the explorer's return to his homeland, while in his adopted home another "official" tomb was planned.

 

 

It took the Dominicans somewhat longer to get their design act together. It was not until 1931 that a design competition was held, won by a Scottish architect who proposed the 688-foot long cruciform memorial complex that stands today and is known as the “Faro a Colon” – “Lighthouse for Columbus”. The building was barely ready by the 1992 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival, when the remains were finally interred, taking the whole “mañana” concept to a new level! 

In 2003, the controversy was tackled by DNA science, and the remains in Seville tested against known remains of Columbus' brother Diego and son Fernando. Although promising, the results are not conclusive, and thus far, the remains interred at the lighthouse in Santo Domingo Este have not been tested, so for now, the mystery endures.



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Seville's Medieval Shipyard
18 March 2021

In 1248, Ferdinand III  took Seville from the Moors, who had held the city since 712. It marked the fall, alongside Córdoba, of the two great Moorish strongholds in the Iberian Peninsula. Knowing that he still had to secure his position, Ferdinand III decided to launch a military campaign into northern Africa. In order to do so, he required a fleet of ships.

Ferdinand passed away in 1252 before realising his plan, but his son, Alfonso X “El Sabio,” proceeded with his father’s strategy. To build the fleet he needed large shipyards, so he initiated work on the Reales Atarazanas de Sevilla, or the Royal Shipyards of Seville.

Built outside the city walls and close to the Guadalquivir River, the shipyard covered about 15,000 square meters and consisted of 17 vaulted naves constructed entirely of brick, in a style now known as Mudejar-Gothic, with vaulted ceilings and wide arches connecting the naves. Construction was similar to those found in a church or cathedral. Each nave needed to be large enough for the construction of a galley, with each section of the shipyard connected to the next via a series of arches.

 

 

Before the end of 1253 ten galleys had been built in the shipyard, and it continued to produce fleets for subsequent Castilian kings. Galleys built in the Royal Shipyards of Seville were used throughout much of the remainder of the Reconquista, as well as during the Hundred Years’ War against England. During this time the naves were also used to hold prisoners and booty taken during the various conflicts.


By the mid-15th century and the final stages of the Reconquista, orders for new ships began to decline and the naves began to be repurposed for other tasks. In 1493, a fish market was moved into the first nave. During the 16th century, other naves were reassigned as oil and wool warehouses, and three more to house the city’s customs warehouse.

 

 

Time and technology had overtaken the Royal Shipyards of Seville. The naves were too small for building larger, more modern ships, and soon shipbuilding ceased altogether. In 1641, five naves were transformed into the Hospital de la Caridad. In 1719, five more naves were assigned for the storage of artillery material. The rest were largely used as commercial warehouses.

The next big change to the structure of the shipyard came in 1945 when five naves were destroyed to make way for the construction of the Delegación de Hacienda (Tax Office) building. Fortunately, no further destruction took place before the shipyard gained National Monument status in 1969, protecting it from further damage.

The shipyard, however, has been an ongoing problem for the local government. For more than 20 years it has been off-limits to the public, despite various plans and proposals for its renovation, all of which have so far failed, generating more frustration.

But in December 2018, it was confirmed that restoration would begin in 2019, with the aim of opening the Royal Shipyards of Seville to the public in 2022. Many Game of Thrones filming locations have become major tourist draws thanks to the popularity of the HBO series. So when the Royal Shipyards of Seville were used in season 7 of the show, interest in the location was naturally increased and the motivation to restore them revived.

So when the Royal Shipyards of Seville do finally open, expect the visitors to be a delighted mix of medieval shipbuilding aficionados and a crowd of Game of Thrones fans.



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Who was the "Dama de Elche"?
11 March 2021

In the silent galleries of the National Archeology Museum in Madrid, you can witness the eerily penetrating gaze of this ancient sculpture, which seems to radiate authority and radiates a uniquely commanding presence. Discovered by accident in Valencia in 1897, the bewitching and inscrutable Dame of Elche has puzzled archaeologists and been the subject of fierce debate for over a century. 

 

 

There have been many theories over the years as to what this mysterious limestone bust represents. She’s been called a Moorish queen, a witch, and stranger still, an “extraterrestrial visitor from another planet.” But archaeologists believe the bust is actually a uniquely Iberian portrayal of the Carthaginian mother goddess, Tanit, used as a funerary urn in antiquity.

There have always been rumours of forgery surrounding the discovery and debate about the authenticity of the Dame of Elche. But in 2011 research carried out using electron microscopy and x-ray technology found that the piece is original, and confirmed its use as an ancient urn. Traces of ashes containing fragments of human bone were detected in the study and carbon-dated to be more than 2,500 years old, making it contemporaneous with the ancient Iberian period. Today you can visit the artefact in Madrid’s excellent National Archaeological Museum. But who she actually is, is still a mystery...

 



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The Drunken Mice
25 February 2021


In practically any place in the world, the presence of mice is synonymous with a possible plague that must be eradicated. Except, perhaps, in some wineries in Jerez, where they not only allow the presence of these animals in their facilities but also offer them glasses of sweet wine that the small rodents do not hesitate to drink before the watchful eyes of the generally astonished visitors.

The reason why the winemakers allow the presence of these animals is that they belong to a class known as "wine cellar mice" that feed on the harmful insects that inhabit the wood of the barrels and that are detrimental to the final result of the wine. However, this diet does not explain rodents' fondness for wine.

To know the origin of this peculiar custom we have to go back many years, to the day when José Gávez, a "venenciador" who worked in the González Byass winery — the producer of the popular Tio Pepe - made a particular discovery.

 


During a break from his work, while eating a sandwich, Gálvez saw how a group of mice timidly approached him to eat the crumbs that fell from the bread. From that moment, the venenciador began to leave pieces of his food on the ground to gain the trust of the rodents and tried to befriend him. He even started letting them taste the wine and, apparently, they quite liked it and couldn't get enough of it

As time went by, Pepe Gálvez got tired of mice eating and drinking for free, so he put a ladder on them so that they had to earn their way to the edge of the glass that he filled for them every day. Seeing that they did whatever was necessary to get their fill he decided to show the mice and their little spectacle to the visitors of the cellar and it soon became a well-known attraction.

Gálvez retired in 1956, but his legacy continues. Thus, even today every time a group of tourists visits González Byass's facilities, their hosts place a glass of sweet wine and a small staircase on the floor. Instantly, a group of mice comes out of the dark to taste the drink, as shown by some videos that have turned these curious rodents into one of the many tourist attractions in Jerez. Cats, on the other hand, aren't so popular in these wineries.

 



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A town on the edge of the abyss
18 February 2021

CASTELLFOLLIT DE LA ROCA looks like a town that was once normal in shape but has been stretched and squeezed along a narrow basalt formation for almost a kilometre jutting out into a stunning valley. This is the result of the superposition of two lava flows which solidified and created this extremely hard and unusual rock formation. The first flow has been dated back 217,000 years. It comes from Batet de la Serra, in Olot. And the second, which is 192,000 years old is the result of the eruption of the San Juan Les Fonts volcanoes. The houses are pushed precariously close to the edge of a 50m vertical drop, and wind along the cliff looking over the countryside and rivers that flank the town below.

 

 

Inhabited for over 1000 years, the town’s narrow streets still carry the characteristics of its medieval origin, and the city centre features ramparts that fortified the town during the civil war. The narrow streets of the town converge on the old church of San Salvador, located at one end of the cliff. Here there is also a viewpoint with breathtaking views and one can clearly see and understand the strategic situation of the town. The church dates from the 13th century, although the current building has undergone several renovations. It was built in a late Renaissance style. It has a square bell tower and has openings on each side. The bell tower is crowned by a cupola decorated with small pilasters. It still preserves various reused basalt ashlars and a late Romanesque window. As for the interior of the church of San Salvador, it should be noted that it is currently used as a cultural centre in which temporary exhibitions are presented.

 

Many houses and streets in the city centre are also built of the dark, volcanic rock that serves as a pedestal for the town. The main street of Castellfollit winds through the entire town narrowly pressed between houses on both sides, straining to remain on the cliff face.

 

 

In Castellfollit de la Roca it is also possible to visit the Sausage Museum (Museo del Embutido), inaugurated in 1993. There is a permanent exhibition that explains the history of meat conservation. In this way, the museum exhibits tools used to make meat through different historical periods, as well as old photographs, old machines, explanations of the slaughter process etc. Entrance to the museum is free and with it you can enjoy a tasting of some of the most typical products of the area.

On both sides of the cliff, the rivers Fluvià and Toronell amble by the rock face of the town through the volcanic zone of Garrotxa. To add to the drama of the landscape, the cliffs are illuminated from sunset until midnight for six months out of the year.

 

 



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Cova Negra - Nature Park
09 February 2021

No trip to Xàtiva is complete without a visit to the nearby Cova Negra, declared a Municipal Nature Park in 2006. Located in a narrow valley that runs along the river Albaida, the park covers 57 hectares of spectacular countryside that is home to a wealth of ecological and heritage assets, including the Cova Negra archaeological site. Declared a Cultural Heritage Site, the cave is fundamental in understanding European prehistory and how the Neanderthals lived.

 

 

A ramble through the Cova Negra landscape reveals the contrast between riverside and mountain flora. The river Albaida hosts communities of floating plants and is lined by riverside woods containing mature poplars and elms. Meanwhile, the mountain area is perfumed with the seductive scent of Mediterranean flora, including many aromatic herbs such as pebrella (Thymus piperella), a species of thyme that is endemic to Valencia.

 

 

The Cova Negra is particularly rich in bird life, and patient observers may be treated to the sight of Bonelli’s eagles, grey herons, purple herons, kingfishers and peregrine falcons during their stroll. However, the park also hosts a wealth of other fauna.

At the widest bend in the river Albaida lies the archaeological site of Cova Negra, named after the dark colour of its walls and once home to Neanderthals during the Palaeolithic Era. Human remains and paintings have been found inside, and the site is of fundamental importance in understanding Mousterian culture and how the Neanderthals lived. An exact reproduction of a parietal bone (part of the skull) from the era that was unearthed in the cave is exhibited in the Almodí Museum.

 

 

The region’s historical gem of hydraulic engineering, the Arcadetes d’Alboi aqueduct strides across the river Albaida on the way to Alboi. Of Gothic construction, although not yet documented, its nine pointed arches and two hundred metres of length stand testament to an earlier era when it supplied water to the city.

 

 

Les Arcadetes form part of the canal from Bellús to Xàtiva, a mediaeval watercourse that begins at the spring of Bellús. Listed as a Cultural Heritage Site at the beginning of century, it flows beside the Albaida River for ten kilometres. It is fascinating to seek out the respiralls, vertical, circular structures that connected the canal to the exterior during its underground sections. According to local legend, these were the brainchild of the intelligent daughter of the Muslim king of Xàtiva, and enabled water to flow along the entire route. However, her jealous brothers paid her for her ingenuity with death, an event commemorated by the two springs of crystalline water that then bubbled up at the site.

The Cova Negra park and the surroundings of Xàtiva in general are ideal for enjoying outdoor pursuits. Thanks to the numerous trails and paths that wind through the landscape, this is an unsurpassed area for hiking and mountain biking. Meanwhile, rock climbers will enjoy l’Aventador, a huge rock wall that has long been used for this sport.



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50 Most Popular Villages in Spain 2020
05 February 2021

Rural tourism and everything that has to do with nature and uncrowded spaces has been one of the beneficiaries of the coronavirus crisis over the past months. However, many are often at a loss for places to visit and things to do. So here is a list of the most popular village in each of the 50 provinces of Spain.

The criteria for selecting the 50 villages were the following: all the towns/villages in the list had to have less than 20,000 inhabitants and then the options were ordered by data compiled from search results and trends in Google. Although it is still early to pack your bags, given the current restriction, these 50 towns are the ideal way to discover rural Spain when the health emergency allows it.

Andalucía

Osuna (Seville): the ducal town has a very rich artistic heritage. The Monastery of the Incarnation, the Collegiate Church and the Quarries are just a small sample of its many charms.

Frigiliana (Málaga): located in the Natural Park of the Sierras de Almijara, Tejeda and Alhama, walking through the narrow and steep streets of its historic centre is like travelling back in time. Go to the viewpoint of Callejón del Peñón to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire town.

Setenil de las Bodegas (Cádiz): this town in the Sierra de Cádiz is part of the Route of the White Villages. One of its peculiarities is the location of its houses, many of which were built "sheltered" from the rocks.

Guadix (Granada): the 'European Capital of Caves' has more than 2000 inhabited cave houses.

Rute (Córdoba): one of the main attractions of Rute is the many gastronomic museums, in many, they continue to make anise, nougat or chocolate, among other products following traditional methods.

Mojácar (Almería): a few kilometres from the coast of Almería, we can find this white town full of places of interest, such as the Plaza del Parterre, the Church of Santa María or the Puerta de la Ciudad.

Cazorla (Jaén): Hidden between olive groves and with the mountains behind, Cazorla is the perfect option for those who want to enjoy nature and cultural visits at the same time.

Aracena (Huelva): one of the most popular places in this town, located in the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park, is the Gruta de las Maravillas, a true paradise of stalactites and stalagmites.

 

Aragón

Tarazona (Zaragoza): amongst the great cultural offering of Tarazona, considered one of the most monumental cities in Aragon, the cathedral stands out, built in the French Gothic style, but with Mudejar and Renaissance elements.

Jaca (Huesca): at 820 meters above sea level, in addition to being a reference destination for winter sports lovers, Jaca has an important monumental legacy. Good proof of this is its citadel, a 16th-century fortress.

Albarracín (Teruel): this small medieval town of just over 1000 inhabitants is, without a doubt, one of the most picturesque in Spain. Located on a hill in the Universal Mountains and surrounded almost entirely by the Guadalaviar River, it has many places of interest, such as the Church of Santa María or the Episcopal Palace.

Asturias

Llanes: the historic centre of this fishing village, declared a Historic-Artistic Site, is one of the best-preserved in the Principality of Asturias. Two of its strong points are the palaces and emblazoned houses.

Canarias

Teror (Las Palmas): in this beautiful town on the island of Gran Canaria is the Basilica to the Virgen del Pino, patron saint of the Diocese of the Canary Islands. Also go to the historic centre to see the characteristic balconies of Canarian architecture, especially in Plaza del Pino and Calle Real.

Garachico (Santa Cruz de Tenerife): although the eruption of the Trevejo volcano in 1706 was a hard blow for Garachico, this Tenerife town knew how to rise from its ashes, and today its rich architectural heritage takes us back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Cantabria

Comillas: also known as the 'Villa de Los Arzobispos', Comillas has some of the most important modernist monuments in Cantabria. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly El Capricho, the work of the great Antonio Gaudí.

Castilla y León

Tordesillas (Valladolid): this town witnessed numerous historical events, such as the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494. Its historical and architectural legacy make it one of the most popular places in Castilla y León. Among its most outstanding monuments, it is worth mentioning the Houses of the Treaty, the Royal Monastery of Santa Clara, the Church of Santa María and the Plaza Mayor.

Astorga (León): the city where two of the main routes of the Camino de Santiago converge, the French Way and the Vía de la Plata, has an important legacy from Roman times. The cathedral and the Episcopal Palace are also two points of great cultural interest.

Lerma (Burgos): the town of Lerma, located on a hillock in the Arlanza region, has one of the most outstanding Herrerian-style architectural ensembles in Spain. The history of the town is intrinsically linked to the Duke of Lerma, one of the most visited places being the Ducal Palace.

Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca): Ciudad Rodrigo is synonymous with historical, cultural and natural heritage. In this walled city, whose historic centre was declared a Historic-Artistic Site, it is possible to visit innumerable architectural gems, such as the Castle of Enrique II de Trastamara or the Cathedral of Santa María.

Puebla de Sanabria (Zamora): located in the vicinity of the Lago de Sanabria natural park, its cobbled streets lead the visitor to discover places as magical as the Castle of the Counts of Benavente or the church of Santa María del Azogue.

Cervera de Pisuerga (Palencia): this small village in the Palentina mountain has a lot to offer. A good starting point to start discovering Cervera is the Plaza Mayor, whose arcades and stone columns are a clear example of Castilian architecture.

Arenas de San Pedro (Ávila): in the middle of the Sierra de Gredos and at a height of 510 meters, in Arenas de San Pedro there is no shortage of places to visit. One of the most visited is the Castillo del Condestable Dávalos, declared a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1931. Today, the Torre del Homenaje houses an interesting museum.

Pedraza (Segovia): declared a Historic Site in 1951, this medieval walled town is a magnet for tourists, due to its beauty and rich heritage.

Medinaceli (Soria): its most emblematic monument, the Arco de Medinaceli, dates from the 1st century and is a good example of the rich heritage of this town, in which the traces of the many civilizations that inhabited it can still be seen.

Castilla-La Mancha

Consuegra (Toledo): we cannot talk about Consuegra without mentioning its 12 windmills, which, together with the Castillo de la Muela, form the ideal setting to relive the best exploits of the ingenious gentleman Don Quixote de La Mancha.

Almagro (Ciudad Real): here is the only Corral de Comedias that has been preserved as it was in the seventeenth century, and best of all, it is still active! For that alone, Almagro is worth visiting!

Alcalá del Júcar (Albacete): the hermitage of San Lorenzo, the castle and the picturesque cave-houses are just some of the monuments that await you in Alcalá del Júcar, a town declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1982.

Sigüenza (Guadalajara): thanks to its wide cultural, natural and gastronomic offering, Sigüenza is one of the most popular destinations in Castilla-La Mancha. The town, which due to its strategic location was already populated during the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods, has many places of interest, such as the castle, the Casa del Doncel or the church of San Vicente.

Belmonte (Cuenca): the castle of Belmonte, in the Gothic-Mudejar style, dominates the horizon of this beautiful town. Since its construction in 1456, the fortress had an important role in the different stages of history. In the 19th century, the castle was inherited by Eugenia de Montijo, future Empress of France.

Cataluña

Cardona (Barcelona): in addition to the picturesque historic centre, travellers who come to Cardona can visit the impregnable castle built in 886 by Wilfredo el Velloso. The fortress was the residence of the lords of Cardona, nicknamed the Crownless Kings, during the Middle Ages.

Miravet (Tarragona): on the banks of the Ebro river we find one of the most charming villas in Catalonia, Miravet. The 12th century Templar castle is one of its main attractions, and many curious people come here to see the walls and the different rooms of the fortress.

Cadaqués (Gerona): the picturesque white houses scattered through the labyrinthine streets of the old town make Cadaqués one of the most charming coastal towns in all of Spain. In addition to sun and beach, the town has emblematic buildings such as the House of Don Octavio Serinyana, the Torre del Colom or the parish church of Santa María.

Solsona (Lérida): Baroque lovers cannot miss Solsona, as the city has an important architectural legacy in this style. Among its most outstanding monuments are the Episcopal Palace and the Portal del Puente.

Comunidad de Madrid

Chinchón: Its Plaza Mayor, full of wooden balconies and arcades dating from the 15th century, is the heart of Chinchón. In addition to the charm of the popular Castilian architecture of the square, this Madrid town has other places of interest, such as the Clock Tower or the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

Valencian Community

Bocairent (Valencia): in this Valencian town, stone is art. Come to Les Covetes dels Moros and discover it for yourself. It is believed that this set of artificial caves with more than 50 "windows", located in the Barranc de la Fos cliff, served centuries ago as granaries or warehouses.

Guadalest (Alicante): Guadalest is a small town with a long history, evidence of its existence goes back to Muslim times. Declared a Site of Cultural Interest, the town has several monuments and places of interest, such as the San José Castle, the Alcozaiba castle and the Casa Orduña.

Peñíscola (Castellón): Peñíscola Castle, also known as Castillo del Papa Luna, is one of the main attractions of this town on the shores of the Mediterranean. Did you know that the old Templar castle became the residence of Pope Benedict XIII?

Extremadura

Zafra (Badajoz): go to the Plaza Chica, where weekly markets have been held since 1380, to see up close the "rod of Zafra" on one of the columns of the arcade. This rod was the system of measurement used by the merchants of the time. Other must-see places are the Alcázar de Los Duques de Feria, the Convent-Museum of Santa Clara and La Candelaria.

Trujillo (Cáceres): the city of Trujillo, structured around the Plaza Mayor, forms part of the Ruta de Los Conquistadores, a route that reviews the key places related to the Discovery of America since it is the hometown of Francisco de Pizarro. Among the many monuments, the castle stands out, whose construction dates back to the 9th century, during the golden years of the Caliphate of Córdoba.

Galicia

Betanzos (A Coruña): also known as the City of Knights, Betanzos became the capital of one of the provinces of the former Kingdom of Galicia. Today, its rich cultural heritage is a reflection of its long history. A good example of this is its old town, declared a historic-artistic complex in 1970.

Cambados (Pontevedra): the 'Capital of Albariño' has numerous places of interest, such as the Pazo de Fefiñáns, the Pazo de Ulloa or the Torre de San Saturniño. This beautiful fishing village is the perfect option for those who want to enjoy a good food-and-wine experience at the same time.

Ribadeo (Lugo): the emblazoned palaces of its historic centre and the "Indianos" mansions (of South American style) in the San Roque neighbourhood are a symbol of the architectural wealth of this beautiful town in Mariña Lucense. Also, the world-famous 'Cathedrals' beach is very close to the town.

Allariz (Ourense): thanks to the stupendous rehabilitation of its historic centre, this town located in the heart of the province was awarded the European Urban Planning Prize in 1994.

Islas Baleares

Valldemossa: on the island of Mallorca, between the Tramuntana mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea, we find Valldemossa, a beautiful town surrounded by vegetation just over 400 meters above sea level. If you could only visit one place, go to the Real Cartuja de Jesús de Nazareth, a former monastery of the Carthusian monks, through which Chopin, Unamuno or Jovellanos, among others, passed.

La Rioja

Haro: Haro, a favourite destination for lovers of wine tourism, also has an important architectural and cultural legacy. Its famous historic centre ("Herradura"), the church of Santo Tomás, the basilica of Santa María de la Vega or the stately palaces, whose construction dates back to the 16th and 18th centuries, are an essential visit.

Navarra

Olite: the city's castle is the most important medieval monument in Navarra and one of the most popular fortresses in all of Spain. Royal seat during the Middle Ages, in 1925 it was declared a national monument. In addition to the castle, in Olite there are numerous monuments and places of interest, such as the church of San Pedro, the church of Santa María la Real, the Roman walls or the Plaza de Carlos III.

País Vasco

Bermeo (Vizcaya): this fishing village located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve is an essential stop in the Basque Country. Although many come to this town to visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, the truth is that Bermeo has many other attractions, such as the Ercilla Tower, the Old Port, the Church of Santa Eufemia or the old town.

Hondarribia (Guipúzcoa): at the mouth of the Bidasoa River, Hondarribia welcomes its visitors with the colourful balconies of its typical houses. The current structure of the walled enclosure dates from the Renaissance, but efforts to fortify the city had already begun in the High Middle Ages. Behind its walls is an old town with cobbled streets where places of interest follow one after another.

Laguardia (Álava): in addition to the excellent preservation of the medieval layout, with jewels such as the Church of Santa María de Los Reyes or San Juan Bautista, the capital of Rioja Alavesa conquers hearts and palates thanks to its excellent food and wine offer.

Murcia

Moratalla: the castle-fortress and the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption of Moratalla dominate the horizon of this beautiful mountain town. Another of its great attractions is the ritual of the Tamboradas, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco, a show that is worth seeing at least once in your life.

 

 

[source of ranking : Musement.com]



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