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Spain's Top 10

Simple...a series of lists rating Spain's top 10 in anything and everything...they may be lists compiled by independent reviewers or by myself....whichever, I hope you find them useful :-)

Spain's Oldest Restaurants
24 January 2020

In Spain, there are as many as 120 hundred-year-old restaurants. The term is used to define what used to be called "casas de comidas" (meal houses), although the name was created in France in the second half of the 18th century. "Restaurants" constituted another sort of eating establishment, a new one if we define them as places where one can order a meal from a range of choices at a range of times and eat it on the premises.

About 1765, people rounding the corner of the Rue Bailleul and the Rue des Poulies, just a few blocks east of the Café de la Régence, passed by the innovator’s sign: “Boulanger débite des restaurants divins” (Boulanger sells divine restaurants). Boulanger was originally a soup vendor and certain soups were known as restaurants—literally, “restoratives.” The Encyclopédie defined restaurant as “a medical term; it is a remedy whose purpose is to give strength and vigour.” Thanks to Boulanger and his imitators, these soups moved from the category of remedy into the category of health food and ultimately into the category of ordinary food...Almost forgotten in the spread of restaurants was the fact that their existence was predicated on health, not gustatory, requirements. None the less I can assure you these restaurants found around Spain were certainly founded on gustatory requirements and still do to this very day serve some of the finest food in the country. Here are 10 of the oldest and best restaurants in Spain in no particular order:

 


1. Botín (C/ Cuchilleros, 17. Madrid) - 1725

In 1989 the Guinness Book of Records classified it as the oldest restaurant in the world. This establishment in Madrid is the genuine birthplace of suckling pig and lamb, which they continue to roast with holm oak wood in the oven that was used on the date the premises were founded, in 1725. The restaurant was founded by the Frenchman, Jean Botín, and then handed down to his nephews. Since 1930, it has been run by the González Martín family. It achieved the world record as it has been the only restaurant so far that can certify how long it has been a "restaurant" - as we understand it today. Others may have started out as taverns or shops that sold food and later transformed into restaurants.


2. Lhardy (Carrera de San Jerónimo, 8. Madrid) - 1839

Thanks to Lhardy, founded in 1839 by Emilio Lhardy, gastronomic modernity arrived in Madrid. In a building near the Puerta del Sol, the restaurant is divided into three floors and 6 dining rooms. It is said that Isabel II used to meet her lovers in one of them, the Japanese room. Eating in Lhardy is like travelling back in time, everything is just the same as it was when the establishment first opened.


3. Casa Gerardo (Carretera AS-19, km 8.5. Prendes) - 1882

It opened its doors in 1882 and today it is managed by the fourth and fifth generations of chefs. Pedro and Marcós Morán, father and son, are specialists for including Asturias in their dishes. Their most well-known creations are the fabada desgrasada (fat-free bean stew with Spanish sausage) and merluza a la sidra (hake with cider). Their menu also includes room for innovation, and this is reflected in the traditional and new dishes.


4. Casa Duque (Calle Cervantes, 12. Segovia) - 1895

The first meal house in Segovia belongs today to Marisa Duque, the fourth generation of restaurateurs. Keeping to the traditional essence, the typical Segovian menu always features large French beans, Castilian soup and suckling pig. For starters, there is nothing better than some juicy slices of bacon


5. Hotel Santa Catalina (C/ León y Castillo, 227. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria) - 1890

The restaurant that is now managed by José Rojano belongs to the hotel that was initially planned for the English who, looking to make their fortune, used to stopover in the Canary Islands on their way to America. Now the menu has been renewed and, as a consequence of the chef's birthplace, includes creations from the Islands as well as the Basque Country.


6.  7 Portes (Passeig Isabel II, 14. Barcelona) - 1836

Josep Xifré i Cases was a powerful Catalan businessman in the first half of the XIX century; the richest Catalan at the time. He built the so-called Xifre houses in the Isabel II Promenade in Barcelona and took a hand in the design himself, as he wanted to create buildings with porches similar to those in the Rue Rivoli and the central squares of Paris.

He made his home and office in the new building and decided to place a luxurious café on the site as well. The café had seven doors through which the public could enter, and an eighth entrance for staff and goods.

Nowadays the restaurant is famous for its rice dishes. Politicians and intellectuals have sat at its tables since 1836, but when the restaurant was taken over by the Parellada family, who continue to run it today, it became a meeting point for expert gourmets. 


7. Arzak (Avenida del Alcalde José Elosegi, 273. Donostia) - 1897

Not everyone knows that Arzak is a hundred years old. It was Juan Mari's grandparents who decided to open a business in Alza (today part of Donostia) which the locals used to call the “highest of vinegars”, because of the quality of the wines served in the restaurant. His mother took a step forward with her baby cuttlefish in their ink or hake in parsley and wine sauce, her son followed in her wake, representing a benchmark in New Basque Cuisine, and now her granddaughter, Elena. 


8. Echaurren (C/ del Padre José García, 19. Ezcaray) - 1698

In 1898, Pedro Garcia and Andrea Echaurren decided to remodel their old coach house that served as a refuelling stop for carriages. The imminent arrival of the railroad forced to anticipate the future, to refocus its business and where previously housed the stables and carriages, they decide to install a dining hall taking advantage of the culinary virtues of his wife, Aunt Andrea. It started with them, this proud culinary tradition and hospitality that has endured for five generations. 

 

9. Antigua Taberna Las Escobas de Sevilla - 1386

Opposite the Cathedral of Seville, in the heart of the Andalusian capital, as Escobas is a living testimony of the history of Seville. There are writings that rate it as the oldest tavern in Spain, founded in 1386, when it was also grocery shop, where wine was sold and brooms were made and hung from the ceiling.


10. Cal Xarina (Collsuspina - Barcelona) 1550

The restaurant Can Xarina of Collsuspina (Barcelona) is a handsome Gothic-Renaissance mansion where you can taste the best flavours of the traditional Catalan cuisine. The restaurant Can Xarina prioritizes local and seasonal produce, so the ingredients are always fresh and high quality (mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, peas, artichokes, etc.). Some of his most characteristic dishes are baked shoulder of lamb, oxtail stew in the pot or preparations with hake and monkfish.

 

Other Centenary Restaurants in Spain:

Hotel Lleida, Graus, Huesca (1867)
Miramar, Alcúdia, Mallorca (1871)
Mesón de Borleña, Borleña de Toranzo, Cantabria (1834)
Las Cabañas, Peñaranda de Bracamonete, Salamanca (1885)
Venta de Aires, Toledo (1891)
Fonda Europa, Granollers, Barcelona (1771)
Gaig, Barcelona (1869)
Hostal Jaumet, Torà, Lleida (1890)
Hotel Durán, Figueres, Girona (1855)
Hostal Coca, Torredembarra, Tarragona (1820)
Paz Nogueira, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña (1838)
Café Gijón, Madrid (1888)
El Vinagrero, La Unión, Murcia (1910)
Café Roch, Pamplona, Navarra (1898)
Casa Montaña, Valencia (1836)



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Spain's Top 10: Best-Preserved Villages
10 January 2020

Spain is a country of castles and walls and a good number of these have survived to this day in very good condition. Much of what is preserved from the medieval era, remains in towns, whose streets have maintained their personality, without succumbing to the temptation to expand with modern buildings and complexes.

Walking through these villages is like immersing yourself in a fairy tale. Its narrow streets, walls and castles transport us to a time of legend. If you want to make a trip to the Spanish Middle Ages, why not start with these....according to the Repsol Guide, they are the 10 best-preserved medieval villages in Spain:

 

Besalú, Girona

The name Besalú is derived from the Latin Bisuldunum, meaning a fort on a mountain between two rivers. It is also the historical capital of the county of “La Garrotxa”. Besalú was designated as a historical national property ("conjunt històric-artístic") in 1966. The town's most significant feature is its 12th-century Romanesque bridge over the Fluvià river, which features a gateway at its midpoint. The church of Sant Pere was consecrated in 1003. The town features arcaded streets and squares and also a restored mikveh, a ritual Jewish bath dating from the eleventh or twelfth century, as well as the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the lower town near the river. Besalú also hosts the Museum of miniatures created by jeweller and art collector Lluís Carreras

 

Calatañazor, Soria

Calatañazor is a municipality located in the province of Soria, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2010 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 70 inhabitants...perhaps it's grown a little since then. The municipality is named after the tiny fortified city on top of a hill. 

Also situated in the municipality are the hamlets Aldehuela and Abioncillo. Abioncillo used to be abandoned like many forsaken hamlets in Spain, but in the 1980s was turned around by a few dedicated teachers into an educational centre.

In the valley between Calatañazor and Abioncillo, the Battle of Calatañazor took place in 1002. This place is still named El Valle de la Sangre (the valley of blood). Almanzor, the ruler of Muslim Al-Andalus is by some historians said to have died in this battle. There is a statue of him in Calatañazor.

 

Peratallada, Girona

Peratallada is a town in the municipality of Forallac, in the county of Baix Empordà, in Catalonia, Spain. It is located 22 km east of Girona.

Its name is derived from pedra tallada, meaning 'carved stone'. Declared a historic-artistic monument, most of the buildings are built from stone carved from the fosse or moat which still encircles parts of this small fortified medieval town. The privately owned Castle of Peratallada is the dominant structure in the center of the town, with a 13th-century Romanesque church dedicated to Sant Esteve (Saint Stephen) outside the town walls. The castle has been documented as early as 1065 AD and it was restored as a luxury hotel in the 1960s. During restoration, traces of settlement were found that date back to the Bronze Age.

Today, Peratallada is known for its beautiful old stone buildings, rutted stone streets and passageways. Its proximity to the beaches of the Costa Brava and its numerous restaurants, small boutique hotels and artists' galleries make it a popular destination. The 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was partly filmed on location here.

 

Hervás, Cáceres

The most significant feature in Hervás' historical heritage is the Jewish quarter. Its narrow, steep streets are lined with houses clustering together like grapes, which were made with adobe and chestnut-wood frameworks, their roofs plastered with Arab tiles to shield the wind. The architectural heritage includes remarkable civil buildings such as the palace of Dávila, a large house from the middle of the 18th century, which at present houses a stately home-museum, and a public library.

The religious heritage includes the parish church of Santa María, erected in the 13th century, which exhibits elements that were added from the 16th century thru the 17th; the convent of the Trinitarian Fathers, inaugurated in 1659; the hermitage of San Andrés, from the 14th century, which at present houses the religious image of Cristo de la Salud, patron saint of Hervás; and the hermitage of San Antón.The infirmary of the Franciscan monks, from the 18th century, is currently home to the City Hall and the Municipal Police.

 

Buitrago de Lozoya, Madrid

Buitrago del Lozoya (Spanish pronunciation: [bwiˈtɾaɣo ðel loˈθoʝa]) is a municipality of the autonomous community of Madrid in central Spain. It belongs to the comarca of Sierra Norte. The town is one of the few in the community that have maintained its walls, which are of Moorish origin (11th century) and have been restored in the 15th century. It lies on a peninsula surrounded by the Lozoya river. Other sights include  the Buitrago del Lozoya Castle, a Gothic-Mudéjar structure dating from the 15th century and the Picasso Museum. This small museum contains works by Pablo Picasso from the collection of Eugenio Arias, a friend of the artist.

 

Peñafiel, Valladolid

Peñafiel is a town in the Valladolid Province and the greater autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain. It is best known for the Peñafiel Castle and for its medieval square used for bullfights and named "Plaza del Coso" (English: "El Coso Square"). The square is surrounded by private homes, but since medieval times the rights to use their windows, balconies and doorways during bullfights are owned by the town (see easement), which auctions them to the highest bidders.

The town is full of deep excavated underground caves which were traditionally used to store the wine because of the constant temperature they kept all year around. These caves have chimney vents for ventilation and to evacuate the gases generated by the fermentation of the wine. These chimney vents dot the landscape in and around the town and the castle.

 

Ainsa, Huesca

The village, which was the capital of the old Kingdom of Sobrarbe, and was later incorporated into the Kingdom of Aragon in the 11th century, constitutes a magnificent example of medieval urban development.
The historic quarter of the village of Ainsa, declared a Historic-Artistic site, is formed by a group of houses that are packed together in the most harmonious and uniform of ways, among which the slender tower of the collegiate church stands out, as well as the enormous premises of the castle, almost as big as the rest of the town. The walls that surrounded the town centuries ago remain almost intact today, the town itself being filled with monuments that bring us back to the Middle Ages.

 

Ronda, Málaga

This town in the Málaga region sits on either side of the Tajo del Ronda, a narrow gorge more than 150 metres deep. Its old town has been declared Property of Cultural Interest. Celts, Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs all inhabited these lands, which were reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs. The historic quarter, reminiscent of the Arab age and with a medieval layout is scattered to the south of the Guadalevín, while more modern Ronda, the part which sprang up after the 16th century, unfolds to the north of the course of this river. Several bridges unite the two halves of one of the most interesting towns on the route of the Whitewashed Villages, in the heart of the the Ronda hills, only a few kilometres from the Costa del Sol. 

 

Albarracín, Teruel

The former capital of a Moorish kingdom (Taifa), the small town of Albarracín has preserved all its Islamic and mediaeval flavour. Its old quarter has the Property of Cultural Interest designation.

The main thing that surprises visitors who arrives at the town of Albarracín is its imposing fortified enclosure, whose perimeter is far larger than the area of the urban centre. What we see today corresponds to three different periods of construction.
The Fortress and the Andador Tower are from the 10th century. In the 11th century, the kings of Albarracín constructed the walls around the poor area of Engarrada. Finally, after the Reconquest, the Christian lords and kings of Aragon erected new sections of walls and most of the forts and towers that remain.

 

Sepúlveda, Segovia

Declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1951, Sepúlveda reflects the influence of the Romanesque style in its monuments and streets, dating back to its era of greatest splendour in the 11th to 12th centuries. Sepulveda is the site of the first Romanesque church constructed in the province, El Salvador Church, dating back to 1093. It has only one nave with a semicircular apse and a tower separate from the nave. Another site worth visiting is the 12th-century Santa María de la Peña shrine, located on the outskirts of the town above one of the deepest gorges along the Duratón River. 



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Top 5 : The Three Kings Parades
27 December 2019

Lights, floats, pages, sweets, and a lot of excitement are all you need to make a procession of the Magi or Three Kings into a one-of-a-kind experience. Even so, every year towns and cities go the extra mile to make these parades special: theatrical productions with top-quality settings and costumes, and fabulous fireworks. From all the processions organised in Spain every 5 January, we have chosen five which amaze children and adults alike, due to their spectacular production values, their originality, or their history.

1. Alcoy, the oldest in Spain

Any discussion of Magi processions in Spain has to begin with Alcoi, which has been holding its parade since 1885. This is not its only impressive statistic - it also has an enormous number of participants, with nearly a thousand people in the procession. One of the most exciting parts of the parade is the torch-bearers, who light the way for the floats and the royal pages. As always in the Valencia region, bands of musicians are an essential part of the procession, with Christmas carols to add to the mood. Up to three bands participate in the parade, as well as groups of drummers and dulzainas (pipers). Another feature of this parade is the work of les negres, the royal pages who bring presents to the children, using wooden ladders to climb up to the balconies of the houses. Traditionally, the event begins at 6 pm and ends after 10 pm, with the sky lit up by an impressive fireworks display.

 

2. Girona, all lit up

Processions of the Three Kings in Girona province are lit in a very special way, with the fanalets all the children carry. These are small lanterns, made of paper and brightly painted, with a lightbulb inside and carried on a stick. In recent years they have been modernised and can be bought in the shape of one of the Magi, a Christmas tree, a snowman, or even the latest popular cartoon character. The tradition is thought to have begun in mountain villages where the children would light bunches of lavender to make sure the Three Kings would see them, even though there was no procession in the village. Now there are many towns and villages where children light the parade with their little lanterns, in one of Catalonia's most endearing Christmas scenes. Although the tradition has spread throughout the region, the processions in Girona province, such as in the cities of Girona or Vic, are still among the most spectacular.

 

3. Cerler, the Magi on skis 

Few presentations are as spectacular as the arrival of the Three Kings at the Cerler ski resort, in the Huesca Pyrenees. Their Majesties sweep down the slopes, leaving the children open-mouthed in amazement, as well as their parents - it is pretty unusual to see the Three Kings riding a chairlift or performing pirouettes on skis. For the whole morning, they chat with the children and pose for photos with them, and even hand out sweets, without the need for royal pages. The celebration continues in the afternoon in Benasque, with a more traditional and restrained procession - this is a small village - but with the best possible setting. There's no need to use fake snow to decorate the parade here, as the real thing is usually in plentiful supply for Epiphany, and the scene could hardly be more picturesque.

 

4. Madrid, the most spectacular

Although there are several processions in the capital every 5 January, the most spectacular pass through the city centre. This is one of the biggest in Spain, with more than 1,500 volunteers taking part. The route traditionally begins at Nuevos Ministerios and ends at Plaza de Cibeles, like so many of the city's major celebrations. It was first held in 1928, and one of its unusual features is that since the late 1980s, the Three Kings have been played by members of the City Council. Another peculiarity is that the people in this parade don't throw sweets into the crowd along the whole route, only in the fenced-off areas. The City Council introduced this measure in 2014 for the children's safety. The parade ends with a fireworks display after a speech by the Magi in Plaza de Cibeles.

 

5. Santillana del Mar, like a fairytale 

This is one of the prettiest medieval towns in all of Spain, so here the processions of the Magi have an incomparable setting, one of the main factors which have made it an official National Tourism Festival. The setup is different from most because as well as the traditional procession, eight scenes are performed from a Mystery Play, the Auto Sacramental de Los Reyes Magos. The streets are covered in straw, torches are lit as dusk falls, and the townspeople dress up as pages, washerwomen and shepherds. The scene-setting and the participation of many of the residents completely transform Santillana, giving the sensation of having travelled back in time more than two thousand years. The numbers give an idea of the majestic scale of the event: nearly 500 extras, 100 torch-bearers, 5 floats and around twenty horses to thrilling young and old alike with the magic of Christmas.



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Spain's Top 10 Ski Slopes
06 December 2019

This year ski slopes have opened early all across the country, take a look at the top 10 Spain has to offer:

 



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Top 10 Most Beautiful Villages in Navarra
06 November 2019

Navarra has some of the most beautiful villages in the country, not often a region that foreigners really think of visiting, but it really must be considered as there is so much to see. Here are 10 of the most beautiful villages worth visiting...

 

1. Olite

The sleek and harmonious silhouette of the Castle-Palace stands out against the skyline of Olite, a small town in the centre of Navarre just 42 kilometres south of Pamplona that was the seat of the Royal Court of the kingdom in the Middle Ages. The thick walls and crenelated towers of the Palace were home to monarchs and princes. Declared a national monument in 1925, it is the best example of civil Gothic architecture in Navarre and one of the most notable in Europe.

A walk through the narrow streets of Olite will take you past noble stone houses with coats or arms on their facades and grandiose wooden eaves, mediaeval galleries and splendid churches, and the Roman wall surrounding the town. Its Mediterranean climate has also made Olite a wine capital. Visit its bodegas (wineries) and try their wines. Let yourself be guided, the town will take you back to an era of tournaments, kings and princesses, wizards and jugglers, falconers and archers; they all return to Olite every August for a Mediaeval Fair.

 

2. Roncesvalles

The collection of the historic buildings in Roncesvalles, located in the westernmost side of the Pyreneen mountain range, are erected on the bottom of the southern slope of the Ibañeta hill and near the wide plain of Auritz- Burguete.

A place for the pilgrims to rest after the rough ascent from the lower Navarre valleys, "The Collegiate church of Santa María de Roncesvalles" is surrounded by some mountains like: Astobiskar (1266 m.) and Ortzanzurieta ( 1570 m), distinguished because they are the oldest territories of Navarra, more than 450 million years old.

 

3. Puente La Reina

Puente la Reina, "the crossroads of the ways", is a medieval town where the two main routes on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela converge. It is one of the enclaves with the greatest affinity with Compostela in Navarre. The constant transit of pilgrims, the scallop shells and the walking sticks all form part of the urban landscape of this town, a magnificent example of a "street-based" town just 24 kilometres south-west of Pamplona.

Walking along the narrow Rúa Mayor is a very pleasant exercise that allows you to discover architectural gems such as the churches of the Crucifix, St. James and St. Peter and beautiful buildings peppered with details of the influence of the Pilgrim's Way. However, there is no doubt that the Romanesque bridge across the river Arga is the most amazing sight of all. It is one of the most beautiful and distinguished examples of Romanesque architecture on the way to Santiago and is what gives its name to this town of barely 2,500 inhabitants.

 

4. Ujué

Lost up on the heights of a plateau with no rivers to refresh it and no trees to shelter it, seemingly intoxicated with its solitude, stands Ujué, a delightful medieval village of narrow streets that climb steeply upwards to reach, at the top, the Sanctuary-Fortress of Santa Maria de Ujué. Located in the Central Zone, Ujué is one of the most important places of worship in Navarre and a spectacular lookout point over the Pyrenees and riverside plains.

The Sanctuary, a national monument, is one of the most important examples of medieval architecture in Navarre, and is at the centre of a beautiful legend. On your journey, lose yourself in the maze-like layout of this tiny village of just 300 inhabitants; stroll slowly along its cobbled streets and don't miss the opportunity to try the delicious migas de pastor ('shepherd's breadcrumbs'). There are very few places that make them like they do in Ujué.

 

5. Elizondo

Elizondo, the capital of the Baztan valley, will amaze you with its numerous mansion houses and palaces. Its most emblematic building is the Baroque palace of Arizkunenea, but there are also other monuments of artistic interest such as the town hall, the Datue Palace, the Viceroy's house and the church of Santiago. Set in idyllic natural surroundings, the hustle and bustle that typify Elizondo have made this locality the valley's inhabitants' favourite place for holding fairs and markets.

One of the most long-standing traditions is the Baztandarren Biltzarra, a festival of colourful dances and processions that brings together all the villages in the valley. On your visit to Elizondo, be sure to try its famous urrakin egina (chocolate with whole hazelnuts). Elizondo lies at the geographical and nerve centre of the Baztan valley . Located in the north of Navarre, the valley encompasses fifteen towns within its municipal boundaries, which are dotted throughout the luxuriant green landscape of the Atlantic Pyrenees.

 

6. Sanguësa

A border post on the Pilgrim's Way and a hospitable and monumental town, Sangüesa is a mixture of the mountains and the plains, a place to see and experience. Located 44 kilometres from Pamplona and with a population of just over 5,000, the most important town in medieval Navarre is well known thanks to the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela and its architectural treasures, particularly the facade of the church of Santa María, a superb example of Romanesque architecture that has been declared a National Monument. Its interesting civil buildings, churches and convents evoke epochs of splendour and reveal a town that is very closely linked to its traditions.

On January 6th every year the Auto Sacramental de los Reyes Magos (allegorical religious play about the Three Wise Men) takes place, one of the five that has been conserved in Spain. Stroll through the old streets of Sangüesa and stop to take a look at every one of its splendid buildings; take part in its medieval traditions and try its famous pochas (succulent white beans). In a land of transition between the first peaks of the Pyrenees and the plains along the river Ebro, Sangüesa stands on the banks of the river Aragón on slightly raised ground in the eastern part of the Central Zone of Navarre, 44 kilometres from Pamplona.

 

7. Artajona

A magnificent medieval fortification crowns the top of the hill on which Artajona stands, a small village 30 kilometres from Pamplona which invites you to close your eyes and step back into a past inhabited by monarchs, noblemen, bishops and popes. This stunning eleventh-century fortress, known as "El Cerco", rises up imposingly over the village that descends down the slopes to the plain in a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, marked along the way by monumental houses and palaces.

On your journey you will discover a town of 1,700 people which, as well as "El Cerco", still preserves other buildings of interest such as eighteenth-century palaces, the Gothic church of St. Peter and, on the outskirts, the basilica of Our Lady of Jerusalem and the chapel of St. Bartholomew. You can also discover why its bells and the "fork and sickle race" are so important. The walls of Artajona, a small town in the Central Zone halfway between Puente la Reina and Tafalla, conceal a wealth of history that will take you back to the Middle Ages, times of territorial conquest and marriages of convenience when the town became the wedding present of King García Ramírez to his wife, Lady Urraca.

 

8. Estella - Lizarra

Half way between Pamplona and Logroño, in an area between the mountains and the plains, lies Estella, a historic city that came into being when pilgrims were travelling along the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela in large number. In the 15th century it was known as "Estella the elegant" and to the present day it continues to live up to this epithet. It is a romantic city that places great value on its palaces, stately homes, churches, convents, bridges and beautiful buildings, which have earned it the nickname of the "Toledo of the North".

The city of 13,000 inhabitants will surprise you with its flourishing commercial life and bustling Thursday market, its passion for music and theatre, as well as its impeccable cuisine. Strolling through the city you will pass pilgrims and visitors eager to explore the old streets of the Franks and the Jews and see proof that the phrase coined by Aymeric Picaud is as true today as it was in the 11th century: "Estella is a city of good bread, excellent wine, much meat and fish and all kinds of pleasures."

 

9. Ochagavia

Ochagavía is the perfect photograph, the one that always looks right; the day or the light conditions do not matter. It is the picture postcard of the Pyrenees of Navarre, with its cobbled streets, its well-kept houses with steep roofs and the river with an old mediaeval bridge crossing it. The stone church, crowned by a robust and elegant tower, is an interesting perspective that breaks up the skyline. A landscape of high mountain peaks and dense forests complete the image, in which the very ancient dances in honour of the Virgin Mary of Muskilda must be present.

The town of Ochagavía is located 764 metres above sea level at the northernmost point of the Pyrenean valley of Salazar, in north-east Navarre. Surrounded by high peaks and beech and Scots pine forests, it is one of the most picturesque places in the Navarrese Pyrenees thanks to the architecture of its caseríos (large houses) and its location at the confluence of the Zatoia and Anduña rivers, which join here to form the river Salazar.

 

10. Amaiur/Maya

A picturesque one-street village that receives the visitor with its peculiar entry arch. The people built their houses along the route of the Pilgrims' Way in the Baztan valley. The lack of alignment and uniformity of the façades avoids monotony and leads to some excellent perspectives. The characteristic reddish colour of the stone from the quarries at Almándoz impregnates, as in the rest of the Baztan valley, its houses.

Noble house architecture has left some magnificent examples in the village, such as Palacio Arretxea or Casa Arriada, where council meetings were held in the 16th century. One of the most emblematic spots in Amaiur/Maya is located at the entry to the village. It is a restored mill that still operates, and where visitors can buy corn or wheat flour or taste recently baked talos, fine corn flour pancakes that are eaten with other products such as cheese, chocolate, or chistorra (spicy sausage).



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10 Beautiful Forests to Visit before the end of year
31 October 2019

Here are 10 stunning forests to visit this season or this coming Spring. Although winter is around the corner there are still some beautiful colours to discover...

 

1.  Forests of Ordesa (Huesca) 


The charm of the Pyrenees’ most spectacular valley lies in this explosion of colour that skirts these mountains covered in oak, ash, maple, hazel and rowan trees straddling the River Arazas.

 

2.  Fuentes de Narces (Asturias) 


The slopes that lead down to the River Narcea are home to one of the biggest and healthiest deciduous forests in Spain, providing rich, nutritious food for the brown bears that live in the vicinity.

 

3.  Fraga del Eume (A Coruña) 


This Atlantic forest, situated further west than any other in Europe, is hanging on by a thread as cement and tarmac encroach on its territory. It’s still a beautiful spot though, and the location for the famed novel 'The Enchanted Forest' by Wenceslao Fernandez Flórez.

 

4.  Montes de Redes (Asturias) 


The upper basin of the Nálon River, in the Asturian municipality of Caso, is covered with the wild forests of Redes, where brown bear and wolves roam amid the beech, oak and chestnut trees that are also home to chamois and grouse.

 

5. Dehesa del Moncayo (Zaragoza) 


Moncayo Mountain rises like an Atlantic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, offering shade and a splash of rich colour. Thick with beech trees and surrounded by holm oaks, olive trees and vineyards, this is a mystical corner of the peninsula where many seek spiritual solace amid the foliage.

 

6.  The Saja Forest (Cantabria) 


The Palombera pass is the crowning glory of the forests of the Saja River in the fall. The ancient woodlands hide a maze of paths traditionally used by mountain dwellers, who left their valleys to occupy the lands of Castile, retaken in the year 1,000 AD. The photo shows the waterfalls at the Pozo de la Arbencia inside Saja-Besaya Natural Park.


7 Tejera Negra (Guadalajara) 


Fall paints the landscape of the Ayllón massif between Segovia and Guadalajara, where beech trees mingle with yew trees. Against the odds, this forest has survived the hot dry Guadalajara climate as though a woodland spell is at work.


8.  Selva de Oza (Huesca) 


The high valley of Hecho in Aragón is crowned with an old untouched forest of beech and firs and black pines marching along the ridges. Below is the mountain gorge at the Boca del Infierno that twists upwards to the source of the River Aragón Subordán – the point where the mountains enclose this Pyrenean treasure whose very remoteness has saved it from the axe.


9.  Valle de Iregua (La Rioja) 


The Cameros hills conceal within their folds a beautiful beech wood, close to the source of the River Iregua. Surrounded by a semi-alpine pasture that has served nomadic cattle farmers for centuries, these beech trees account for the last native deciduous forest in the region.


10.  Monte de Santiago (Burgos) 


The source of the Nervión River is tucked away among the leafy beech forests of Santiago that begin at the cliffs of the Salvado mountains and advance down towards the meadows of the Arrastaria valley in Alava. The forests are constantly doused in moisture by the dense mists that also feed the river and ensure that the Salto de Nervión waterfall – considered the highest in Spain – remains a spectacular sight.

 


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Top 10 : Most memorable places to sleep in Spain
18 October 2019

Treehouses, transparent bubble shaped rooms to watch the stars, traditional wagons or even caves, staying in these very original hotels in Spain will be a truly unforgettable experience. From North to South, here are 10 of the most interesting and original hotels that will make every night feel special and help you discover Spain like never before.

 

1. Cabanes als arbre, Sant Hilari Sacalm, Girona

http://www.cabanesalsarbres.com/es

If you have ever dreamed about being like Robinson Crusoe, then stay in this treehouse, near the Montseny Mountain, in Catalonia. In this very privileged area, you can view the world from above.


2. Airstream, Alzozaina, Málaga

https://www.glampingairstream.com

In the quaint white-washed village of Alozaina, in Málaga, you can stay in an authentic classic American caravan that is as luxurious as a 5-star hotel. This tiny vehicle is perfect for a romantic getaway.


3. Casa de laila, Alhaurín el Grande, Málaga

http://www.casadelaila.es

Casa de Laila takes rural tourism and glamping (“glamorous camping”) to a new level. If you want to spend the night in a tent without compromising on comfort, this pretty corner of Alhaurín el Grande is perfect.

 

4. Hotel Consolación, Monroy, Teruel

http://www.consolacion.com.es

Located in the beautiful Matarraña region, Hotel Consolación is one of the most special hotels in Spain. It merges the tradition of an old baroque hermitage with ultramodern and minimalistic cubes on top of a hill. It’s so cool!

 

5. Mil Estrelles, Borgonyà, Girona

http://www.milestrelles.com

Very close to the famous Banyoles Lake it is possible to stay inside a transparent bubble, with the stars as your ceiling. This hotel’s round rooms are named after stars and is as romantic as it is magical.

 

6. Hotel Plaza de Toros de Almadén, Almadén, Ciudad Real

http://www.hotelplazadetoros.com

There is surely nothing more typically Spanish than a bullring that has now been converted into a hotel. Located in Almadén, it has been transformed into an amazing place where every aspect of its design has been carefully thought-out, for example you can have breakfast overlooking the arena.

 

7. Hotel Les Cols Pavellons, Olot, Girona

https://www.facebook.com/LesColsPavellons

Les Cols, in the middle of the pretty Garrotxa area, is more than just a hotel: it is a sensorial and very Zen experience. There are glass rooms, volcanic earth at your feet, lava gardens and you can even sleep under the stars.

 

8. Otro Mundo, Elche de la Sierra, Castilla-La Mancha 

http://www.otro-mundo.com

In the Sierra de Segura Mountains, in Castilla-La Mancha, there are a few white Eco domes that have everything you could possibly need. Otro Mundo is a hotel where sustainability really matters, as well as comfort. It is a truly other-worldly experience.

 

9. Casa del Mundo, Tibi, Alicante 

http://www.casadelmundo.nl/english/

In Tibi, Alicante, it is possible to sleep, relax and have fun in an old European wooden caravan home. Lodging in one of these cute apartments can be a retro adventure for the whole family - and don’t forget to enjoy their pool.

 

10. Cuevas Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, Guadix, Granada 

http://www.cuevaspedroantonio.es

In Tibi, Alicante, it is possible to sleep, relax and have fun in an old European wooden caravan home. Lodging in one of these cute apartments can be a retro adventure for the whole family - and don’t forget to enjoy their pool.

 



Like 1        Published at 20:22   Comments (1)


Spain's Best Wine Festivals
04 October 2019


Although quite a few of the wine festivals have now come to an end in Spain I thought it might be interesting to post a selections of some of the most popular ones around the country. Same large and some small, but all celebrating "la vindimia" : the grape harvest. Take note of the one near you and pay a visit or note it down for next year if you missed it this time round!

 

 
1 – 8 September , Ciudad Real
Valdepeñas Wine Festival
D.O Valdepeñas
 
Local cuisine really takes centre stage with this festival. Besides wine tastings that are discussed and paired with local produce, this year the city is holding the 2nd Oenogastronomic Conference, “Saborea Valepeñas”. Every year, a person is awarded the prize for “Best Grape Harvester of the Year”.
 
 

 

 
 
5 – 8 September - Cordoba
Montilla-Moriles Grape Harvest Festival Córdoba
D.O Montilla-Moriles
 
Every year they appoint a master of honour who is given the keys so they can safe guard and defend the wines of the region for the whole year. Declared of National Tourist Interest, its most important acts include competitions for all the venenciadores (wine pourers), bottle turners and coopers in the region.
 
 
9 - 14 September
Wine Festival in Jerez
D.O Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla
 
Cádiz can boast of being European wine city for 2014. The acts include activities for children, such as Children’s Venencia Competition, where they pour wine using a traditional, long handles dipper. Using a venencia to decant Jerez wine is quite an art that has to learn from a young age.
 
 
14 September
La Rioja Alavesa Grape Harvest Festival, Labastida
D.O Rioja
 
It is a travelling festival that began 21 years ago in Laguardia. The 2014 edition will be held in Labastida, which will be in charge of bringing together the most important festivities. However, all the villages will be present in the same way. This is demonstrated in the Wine Competition in which only villages that produce D.O Rioja can take part; so all the villages in the area are legible. There is also the possibility of tasting the wines produced in the villages that comprise La Rioja Alavesa and some wineries, such as Eguren Ugarte, organise activities for the family that range from picking grapes to treading the fruit after it has been harvested- the part children love the most.
 
 
14 - 15 September
Cigales Wine Festival,
Valladolid
D.O Cigales
 
Cigales is the ‘cradle of claret’ and its wine festival is one of the oldest in the country. As a result, it has been awarded the title of Festival of Regional Tourist Interest. Besides the traditional treading, for two days a wide variety of activities are held, such as talks on the world of wine, tasting competitions and a wonderful medieval market, which gives the festival a past times feel, times when wine also played a starring role.
 
20 September
Wine Festival in Logroño 
D.O Rioja
 
2014 commemorates the 58th edition of this tradition; it starts off with the Pisada Popular, a public grape-treading event that takes place with the purpose of extracting the first must, which is then dedicated to the city’s patron saint. Another great wine event, known as the Quema de la cuba (the burning of the cask), brings the festival to an end. Continuing with the aim of becoming a gastronomic benchmark, the “Gastronomic Week” is also held during the festival.
 

 

 
 
28 September
Grape Harvest Festival in Sotillo de la Ribera
D.O Ribera del Duero
 
Sotillo de la Ribera has been holding a great party every year for 36 years now. It is dedicated to its wines and has guided tours and tasting events, not only of wine but also oil. Some of the wineries in the area also organise special activities to celebrate the festival, including a demonstration of how the local residents used to harvest the grapes in former times.
 
28 September - 6 October
Grape Harvest Festival in San Miguel de Tabagón, O Rosal
D.O Albariño
 
A week when there is no chance of getting bored thanks to a complete programme of activities that unsurprisingly, are all related to wine and the grape harvest: Talks on technical aspects of grape-harvesting, wine, gastronomy and photography competitions, as well as a pageant with all the local inhabitants and tourists who decide to visit this town in Pontevedra taking part.
 

 

 
3 - 5  October
Cavatast, 
Cava and gastronomy exhibition in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia
 
Cava is the big appeal of this region, one that for the last 18 years has decided a special gastronomic display of products that are the perfect match for these bubbly wines. The activities include a ride on an electric bicycle along the paths that go through the vineyards in the area, the route coming to an end with a local chocolate-tasting event.
 
 
3 - 5 Octubre
Riberjoven, Young wine and Gastronomy Festival, Peñafiel
D.O Ribera del Duero
 
 
This is the only festival in the country that is dedicated to young wine and it is precisely by taking this concept into account that they offer activities typically associated with children but which are adapted for older people, such as the Grape Harvest Storyteller for Adults. Although in Peñafiel children have a significant role in the festival- they perform a play related to the grape harvest and participate in different workshops.
 
 
10-13 October
Cangas del Narcea Festival, Asturias
D.O Vinos de la Tierra de Cangas (Cangas Wine)
 
The Festival begins when the local hotel and catering professional award the Golden Vine prize to a person with links to Cangas and its wine. The demonstration of the classic grape treading is carried out in a traditional way; a scene is staged with a barrel that is transported on a typical cart. All the restaurant in the area are involved in the festival and while it lasts diners can enjoy a typical grape harvest menu.
 
10 - 12 October
Grape Harvest Festival in Rueda
D.O Rueda
 
Despite being well known for its white wines, Rueda also produces some exquisite red wines. So everyone can try them, a marquee is set up in the town’s main square where winery owners offer people the chance to taste their wines and typical local products. In addition, some wineries organise Open Days. The first must extracted from the traditional Grape Treading is given to the participants.
 
 
12 - 13 October
Verdu Grape Harvest and Wine Festival
D.O Costers del Segre
 
This Lleida town runs numerous competitions related to grape harvesting and its associated professions, with competitions such as the one for picadors (grape treaders), porrón lifters (people who lift and drink from traditional wine pitchers), vine throwers; there is even a grape carrier race. To make sure you have enough energy to compete, there is nothing better than tucking into a grape harvester’s breakfast. They are served every day during the festival. If you are looking for something quieter, then you can go to the gastronomic exhibition held in Verdu Castle, which opens its doors especially for the occasion.
 
 
14 – 22 October
Wine Festival in Toro
Zamora
D.O Toro
 
These days it is normal to see the roads around the city jammed with carts that are overflowing with all kinds of utensils for harvesting grapes, just like in the old days. A festive pilgrimage travels along the main streets announcing the start of the harvest. Another quite strange annual tradition is the Wine Fountain, during which a large cask is set up in the bullring from which the young men have to drink whilst trying to out of the way of the bulls that are guarding the cask.
 


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15 Magical Places in Spain
27 August 2019

I started out wanting to compile a list of Spain's top 10 most magical places but I have to be honest it was impossible to narrow it down to 10 and even harder to order from 1 to 10. So I gave up and decided to  create a short list as follows. It is not in any partcular order. Feel free to leave a comment on any place int he l¡ist you have visited or any place you think should have been included...

 

1. Natural Park of Forest Corona (Tenerife)


This predominantly forested area encircles the Teide National Park and is home to some of the best examples of pine and high-altitude vegetation on Tenerife. The heads of a large number of the ravines that form the drainage system of the north and south of Tenerife are located here, meaning that the area plays a vitally important role in capturing water and protecting land against erosion.

The area boasts a host of geomorphic features, the most impressive being the immense La Orotava and Güímar valleys. Other fascinating and unique geographical structures include the lunar landscape above the town of Vilaflor and Cuevas Negras to the north of Pico Viejo.

A number of threatened species can be found in the high biodiversity of native flora and fauna of the area, as well as many other species protected by national laws and international agreements. It is a magnificent sanctuary for pine forest birds, of which there are a number of native species. Many of the geomorphic features (ravines, vents, recent lava flows, etc.) are representative of the geology of the island. The area is of exceptional beauty and value.

 

2. Ordesa National Park (Huesca)


The National Park is part of the Pyrenees and Monte Perdido National Park which was declared a World Heritage site in 1997 by the UNESCO. Since 1977, a part of the park has also been inside the Ordesa-Viñamala Biosphere Reserve.

It is an incredibly beautiful place with a landscape of towering summits. It has a wide variety of ecosystems with both an Atlantic and Mediterranean influence, which is what gives it such a rich and diverse flora and fauna. The scenery is dominated by the great massif of Monte Perdido (3,355 m), with the peaks of the Tres Sorores branching out into the valleys of Ordesa, Pineta, Añisclo and Escuaín.

 

3. The Alhambra (Granada)

The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. Alhambra's Islamic palaces, as we know them today, were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain and the court of the Nasrid dynasty. After the conquest of Granada by the Reyes Católicos ("Catholic Monarchs") in 1492, some portions were used by Christian rulers

 

4. Pyramids of Güímar (Tenerife)

The Pyramids of Güímar refer to six rectangular pyramid-shaped, terraced structures, built from lava stone without the use of mortar. They are located in the district of Chacona, part of the town of Güímar on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. The structures have been dated to the 19th century AD and their original function may well be explained as a byproduct of contemporary agricultural techniques.

Other pyramids employing the same methods and materials of construction can be found in various sites on Tenerife. In Güímar itself there were nine pyramids, only six of which survive.


5. Médulas (Leon)

The town of Las Médulas is located in the region of El Bierzo, Leon. This small mountain town marks the natural beginning of the ascent towards Las Médulas, a unique cultural landscape that was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO.

The serrated relieve of this landscape, marked by red clayey mountains and covered by chestnut trees, owes its appearance to the Romans, who altered the natural environment in this area when they established a gold mine in the 1st century AD.

For this purpose they came up with an ingenious system called "ruina montium", which used water force to crumble down the soil and expose the gold.

The two centuries that this type of mining went on, caused the formation of the peculiar relieve of Las Médulas. Red-clay erosion gullies, towers, and underground galleries, all surrounded by chestnut trees, make up this cultural landscape. Peaks higher than 100 metres lead to the centre of the gold mine, the Cueva Encantada (Enchanted Cave) and Cuevona (the Huge Cave).

Eight kilometres away from Las Médulas, the viewpoint of Orellán offers one of the best views of the whole place.

 


6. Ucanca Valley, Teide National Park (Tenerife)

The natural boundaries of Teide National Park are marked by a grandiose, spectacular caldera. The Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano formed inside this elliptical depression, which measures 16 x 11 km.

The name Las Cañadas comes from the plains at the foot of the caldera escarpment, which were used as a cattle route (known as "cañada" in Spanish). The biggest plain is called Llano de Ucanca. The water that descends the walls is trapped inside, and so the elements that are dragged along with it settle and accumulate in the base, forming these plains.

The origin of Las Cañadas caldera is a topic of debate, and there are two main hypotheses. The most likely theory is that it has been formed purely by erosion, with a valley that exits on the north face, in the municipality of Icod, which would now appear to be occupied by Teide lava flows. The other hypothesis is that there was a major collapse when a shallow magma chamber spewed out its contents at great speed.


7. Gaztelugatxe (Basque Country)

Gaztelugatxe is an islet on the coast of Biscay belonging to the municipality of Bermeo, Basque Country (Spain). It is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. On top of the island stands a hermitage (named Gaztelugatxeko Doniene in Basque; San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spanish), dedicated to John the Baptist, that dates from the 10th century, although discoveries indicate that the date might be the 9th century. With another small neighboring island, Aketze, they form a protected biotope that extends from the town of Bakio until Cape Matxitxako, on the Bay of Biscay.

 

8. Irati (Navarra)

The Irati Forest is the second largest and best preserved beech and fir forest in Europe, an immense green mantle of some 17,000 hectares that is still in an almost unspoiled state. Standing among the western Pyrenees of Navarre, the Irati Forest is accessed from the picturesque villages of Ochagavía and Orbaitzeta and is a natural treasure in which you can find the protected areas of Mendilatz and Tristuibartea and the Lizardoia Integral Reserve. 

Sit down in the heart of the forest and enjoy communing with nature; let yourself be enveloped in a silence broken only by the wild rushing of water between beeches and firs. Admire the crystalline currents of the river Irati that turn turquoise in the Irabia reservoir and listen out for the elusive sounds of the fauna and stroll across the soft blanket of grass that covers the Irati Forest. The scent of the woods will impregnate itself in your skin.

 

9. Mosque and Roman bridge in Cordoba

The view over the Mosque-Cathedral, with the river, the Gate of the Bridge and the Roman Bridge of Cordoba itself, is one of the most wonderful sights of Cordoba, especially at dusk, when the last rays of the sun linger on and make the stone surfaces glow a deep golden red. The bridge was first built in the 1st century A.D., but has been rebuilt many times since then, and in its present form dates mainly from the Medieval period, with the latest changes being made in 1876. There are sixteen arches, four of which are pointed and the rest semi-circular. Halfway along the railing on one side is a 16th century statue of San Rafael by Bernabé Gómez del Río. 

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (World Heritage Site since 1984) is arguably the most significant monument in the whole of the western Muslim World and one of the most amazing buildings in the world in its own right. The complete evolution of the Omeyan style in Spain can be seen in its different sections, as well as the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles of the Christian part.

 

10. Source of the Urederra, Urbasa Andía Natural Park (Navarre)

The burbling of crystalline water, the light filtering among the leaves of the trees, bathing the landscape in a lime green light and the aroma of nature has made this place, listed as a nature reserve since 1987, one of Navarre's most spectacular enclaves.

The Source of the Urederra is located north of Estella-Lizarra. It is the natural outlet of the aquifer lying under the karstic massif of Urbasa. Its first emergence takes place at an altitude of 700 metres, on the southern edge of the plateau, with an impressive 100 metre fall that, over millions of years, has modelled a rocky amphitheatre of breathtaking beauty. 


11. The Walls of Avila

The work was started in 1090 but most of the walls appear to have been rebuilt in the 12th century. The enclosed area is an irregular rectangle of 31 hectares with a perimeter of some 2,516 meters,including 88 semicircular towers. The walls have an average breadth of 3 metres and an average height of 12 metres. The nine gates were completed over several different periods. The Puerta de San Vicente (Gate of St Vincent) and Puerta del Alcazar (Gate of the Fortress) are flanked by twin towers, 20 metres high, linked by a semicircular arch. The apse of the cathedral also forms one of the towers. The fortifications are the most complete in Spain.


12. Bardenas (Navarra)

The Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert natural region, or badlands, of some 42,000 hectares (100,000 acres) in southeast Navarre (Spain). The soils are made up of clay, chalk and sandstone and have been eroded by water and wind creating surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus, tabular structures and isolated hills, called cabezos. Bardenas lacks urban areas, vegetation is scarce and the many streams that cross the territory have a markedly seasonal flow, staying dry most of the year. This Natural Park of wild beauty was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. 


13. Ronda (Málaga)

Despite being Andalucía's fastest-growing town - it overtook Córdoba in the big three Andaluz tourist attractions, behind Sevilla and Granada, in the early 21st century - Ronda retains much of its historic charm, particularly its old town. It is famous worldwide for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevín through its centre. Visitors make a beeline for the 18th century Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, which straddles the 100m chasm below, for its unparalleled views out over the Serranía de Ronda mountains.

 

14. Gulpiyuri Beach (Asturias)


This is probably the most surprising part of the Asturian coast, declared a natural monument. Shaped as a half circle separated from the sea by the shelvings, it is a place where one can bathe without seeing the sea. Although sometimes referred to as the ‘world’s smallest beach,’ Playa de Gulpiyuri is definitely one of the world’s strangest.

 

15. Albarracín (Aragon)

This sleepy little tourist village lies 3,878 feet above sea level, and is unspoilt by modernization. Driving towards the village perched high on the mountaintop evokes a sense of wonder. The Spanish newspaper, ABC.es, had a poll and Albarracín is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.



Like 2        Published at 16:46   Comments (2)


Spain's Top 10: Freshwater Oases
29 June 2019

I thought it would be interesting to move a little inland.... When it comes to Spain everyone seems to picture a sandy beach on some coastal resort but infact I have to say that I have had some of my greatest moments in Spain, inland at many of the country's idyllic fresh water spots. Lagunas de Ruidera was a wonderful discovery many years back. What is so fantastic about these places is the crystalline fresh water, many of them are actually born from natural springs. The water is incredibly refreshing as opposed to the hot bath water which can be found on the Mediterranean coast during the summer.

So if you fancy a change, this is a wonderful alternative and you probably won't have to fight to find a spot to lay down your towel! The word oasis comes to mind when I see them as in many occasions all that can be seen around them is arid land and dry pine forests. Some of these places also allow water sports and fresh water fishing so also an great opportunity to keep yourself busy.

 

These are 10 of the top places around the country, naturally there are so many, so feel free to posta comment if you know of any more wonderful freshwater oases...

 

1. Lagunas de Ruidera (Ciudad Real)

 


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2. Lago de Sanabria (Zamora)

 

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3. Los Pilones (Cáceres)

 


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4. Embalse de Orellana (Badajoz)

 


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5. Las Fuentes del Algar (Alicante)

 


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6. Pantano de San Juan (Madrid)

 

 


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7. Lago de Bolarque (Almonacid de Zorita, Guadalajara)


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8. Playa de Zahara de la Sierra (Cádiz)

 


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9. El Parrizal de Beceite - Teruel

 


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10. Las Presillas (Rascafría- Madrid)

 


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