Hoteis de Charme em Castilla-y-León, Espanha
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The old frontier land of Castilla y Leon has perhaps done more than any other region to shape the course of modern Spain.
Following the Christian reconquest it emerged as the most powerful Kingdom in the country, its domination being underpinned by a combination of military prowess and series of marriage alliances.
The very idiom of Castilla evolved to become the unifying language of Spain, whilst its political, historical and cultural importance left behind a fabulous legacy of great cities and monuments - not least the historic towns of Salamanca and Léon.
The pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela, which passes through Burgos, Palencia and Léon, further bequeathed a rich harvest of Romanesque churches, Gothic cathedrals and monasteries, many of which remain in a perfect state. This land of soldiers, heroes and castles offers rich pickings for those interested in culture, history and architecture.
In short, the birthplace of El Cid is very much alive.
Gastronomy The distinguished cuisine of Castilla y Leon is notable for its excellent meat, particularly lamb, and vegetables, such as the famous creamy beans of Avila. In truth, however, the cheeses, hams and trout fished from the Leonese rivers all enjoy great popularity, though they are little known to the outside world.
A few examples of some typical and tasty dishes include the Maragato stew, la cachelada (potatoes with ham and chorizo sausage), as well as typical meat and fish pies called empanadas. Other representative cuisine includes roast lamb and kid goat from Astorga, fruits in syrup from El Bierzo and figs from La Baeza, also known for its partridge with cabbage and roast quails. All are sure to tickle the taste buds.
History Founded in the 10th century as a vassal of Léon-Asturias, Castille rose from being a small hereditary county to play a pivotal role in the Christian reconquest of Iberia – the very name Castilla comes from the frontier castles built to fend off the Arabs. By the 11th century Old Castille had united with Léon to create an enlarged province and with the marriage in 1469 of Isabella, heiress of Castilla, to Ferdinand, later King of Aragon, the two domains were united.
This important marriage helped underpin the establishment of what was to become modern Spain: in fact, with the conquest of Granada in 1492 the unification of the country was complete.
Under Ferdinand and Isabella Spain took the first steps to becoming the most powerful country in Europe and the apex of a worldwide empire, which still has repercussions to this day.
The language of Castille, for example, the standard idiom of Spain, is one of the most widely spoken in the world. Today, Castilla y Léon remains the largest autonomous region in Spain.
Though the golden age has long gone, its cities, monuments and culture remain as proof of its proud history. Culture Leon - Fiestas The Ronda and the Procession of the Religious Images, which are celebrated on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, have been declared Tourism Festivals of National Interest.
On the last Sunday of April, the City Council makes a symbolic offering at the festival of "La Cabezadas" to Saint Isidoro. The most important festivals are those dedicated to San Juan and San Pedro, which take place on 24th and 29th June respectively.
The Romerías to the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Camino are held on the 5th of October. A festival of Organ Music in September-October and the "Canteradas", celebrated on the Sunday before October 5th, are both held in the Cathedral. Other Music Festivals occur during the period May-June and these tend to be well highlighted beforehand. Handicrafts Handicrafts and Léon go back a long way.
The Visigothic ironworks at Compludo, for example, have been working on and off since the 7th century and still rely on waterpower to provide it with energy. The production of blankets and carpets is also thriving at Val de San Lorenzo, whilst Astorga produces fine tapestries. The pottery emanating from Jimínez de Jamuz is highly prized for its original design.
Finally, the mountain areas of Pio de Sajambre and Los Ancares are noted for their craftwork in wood. Monuments The monumental city of Léon is one of the region’s jewels and lays claim to great historical and artistic heritage.
The outstanding cathedral of Léon alone, with its stained glass and wall paintings are reason enough to visit - it has been described as one of the most magnificent sights in Spain - but there is much more to see and admire.
The Roman and medieval walls, the old quarters and squares contrast harmoniously with the more modern aspects of the city. Other great monuments include the Collegiate Church of San Isidoro a fine example of early Spanish Romanesque art, though the current basilica is a mix of different eras, and the lavish Convent of San Marcos.
Initially built in the 12th century for the Knights of Santiago, travellers could rest here on their pilgrimage to Santiago before staging the grueling mountain stages ahead. Activities Notwithstanding some of the more nondescript smaller towns and villages, much of Castilla y Léon is an architectural and historical tour de force. Time should certainly be made to visit the great cities of Salamanca and Léon, as well as other towns such as Burgos.
All have an impressive array of cathedrals and architecture, while imposing castles can also be found at Berlenga de Duero and Gormaz.
The region is not just about its architecture and medieval history, however. Though being located on the “meseta”, with a relatively monotonous landscape, Castilla-Leon does offer up natural parks and kilometres of practically virgin nature, with woods and cork-oaks.
Interesting scenery can be found at the Las Batuecas valley and the Sierra de Urbíon where the majestic Duero river starts off its eventful journey that ends up in the port wine district of Portugal.
Hotel Boutique e Romântico em Castilla-y-León
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Hotel e Pousada Bonita em Castilla-y-León
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