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Historical Castile and León

Romanesque art in its purest

« One week routes

 

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In the shield of Spain representing the 5 kingdoms that make up modern day Spain, two of these ancient kingdoms are based on these lands, the Kingdom of Castile and the Kingdom of León.

The historical and cultural richness of Castile and León can be summarized by the fact that more than 60% of the entire (artistic, architectural, etc.) heritage of Spain can be found there. This translates into: 8 World Heritage Sites, 111 historical ensembles, 400 museums, 300 castles –16 or which are considered to be of high historical value–, 11 cathedrals and the largest concentration of Romanesque art in the world.

The cultural route we present here is a medium-length route, 935 km and the journey lasts 11 h 42 min The minimum duration of this route is 7 days, on which we will visit six of the nine capital cities in Castile-León. But, ideally, the journey should last longer, in order to be able to enjoy these charming Spanish inlands and visit them all. You will be bewitched…

 

1st day: Madrid-Barajas airport - Segovia.

Departure from the Madrid-Barajas international airport. We can choose to make all the journey by motorway 107 km con un tiempo estimado de 1 h 15 min with tollbooths, or a shorter journey (104 km) with the last 50 km by ordinary road 1 h 38 min. This second option would allow us to enjoy the beauty of the mountain landscape (we would cross the Navacerrada mountain pass), and we would avoid toll barriers.

The Segovia Aqueduct is the most important Roman civil engineering structure in Spain (beginnings of the 2nd century AD). The Aqueduct and the Old Quarter were classified by the UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1985. Taking a stroll along the town’s beautiful streets or tasting its most typical dish, the "cochinillo" (roast sucking pig) at one of its prestigious old-style restaurants is a real pleasure. The Alcázar and the Cathedral are “must-sees”.

Overnight motorhome parking: Parking del velódromo (free). GPS coordinates: 40.946860, -4.124020. Google Street View

  • Acueducto de Segovia
  • Alcázar de Segovia
  • Catedral de Segovia
  • Estatua de Juan Bravo
  • Iglesia de San Millán
  • Vista aérea general de Segovia

 

2nd day: Segovia - Burgos.

Departure from Segovia. The journey to Burgos is 200 km, long; the first 57 are by ordinary road, and the rest by motorway. The journey lasts around 2 hours and a half.

Halfway through this tour would be advisable to make a short stop at Aranda del Duero, where we could enjoy the old town as well as a good red wine. Aranda del Duero is the capital of the region of Ribera del Duero, red wines with denomination of origin Ribera del Duero are the most prestigious and valued worldwide.

The Cathedral (13th century) is an unquestionable representative of Gothic architecture, and it was classified as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1984. Visiting the monastery “Monasterio de Santa María la Real de las Huelgas" and the “Cartuja de Miraflores” or simply taking a stroll along the town’s river walk are some of the attractive activities tourists can engage in. The Way of St. James (“El Camino de Santiago”), along which pilgrims walk from France to their final destination in the capital city of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, and classified as World Heritage Site in 1993, crosses the city

Within 15 kilometers of the city lies the archaeological site of Atapuerca, declared Natural Interest Space, Cultural Interest Sites and under the protection of UNESCO since 2000 as a World Heritage Site because of the exceptional archaeological and paleontological findings. Among the findings highlighted that houses the fossil record of at least three different species of hominids: Homo antecessor (considered the oldest hominid species in Europe, more than a million years old, and discovered here in Atapuerca), Homo heidelbergensis and Homo sapiens. In 2010 opened the Museum of Human Evolution.

And, of course, you must not forget to taste the famous Burgos blood sausage (blood pudding made with rice), which is a typical dish from Burgos

Overnight motorhome parking: Public parking (5,50 €/day). GPS coordinates: 42.340457, -3.694666. Google Street View

  • Arco de Santa María
  • Casa del Cordón
  • Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas
  • Panorámica de Burgos desde el Mirador del Castillo
  • Triforio con decoración de cabezas en la Catedral de Burgos
  • Tumba de Juan II de Castilla en la Cartuja de Miraflores

 

3th day: Burgos - León.

Departure from Burgos. This stretch of the journey is entirely by motorway and parallel to the Way of St. James, 184 km in 1 h 50 min.

After two thirds of the recommended route would stop at Sahagún, a town of great wealth for his monumental historical heritage.

The city’s old quarter, also known as “Barrio Húmedo”, was the capital city of the old Kingdom of León, and the medieval layout of its streets is really charming.

The Cathedral of León is the best example of French-style classical Gothic architecture in Spain. The “Basílica de San Isidoro” is one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain, and it holds the tombs of several kings. The Convent of San Marcos, also known as “Hostal de San Marcos”, is the first example of Spanish plateresque and Renaissance architecture. Another must-see is the Modernist-style “Casa Botines”, designed by the brilliant Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí. All these monuments have been classified as Cultural Interest Sites.

Leaving aside the type of materials it contains, the MUSAC (Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and León), is a good example of modern architecture and one of the new, 21st century symbols of León.

Overnight motorhome parking: Sanistation for motorhomes (free). GPS coordinates: 42.604477, -5.584222. Google Street View

  • Casa Botines
  • Antiguo Ayuntamiento de León
  • Basílica de San Isidoro
  • Catedral de León
  • Claustro del Convento de San Marcos
  • Galería del claustro de San Isidoro

 

4th day: León - Zamora.

Departure from León. On this day, we would travel along part of the so-called “Silver Route” (“Ruta de la Plata”). It is a 142 kilometers journey which lasts a little more than 2 hours. The journey is by motorway as far as Benavente. The rest is by ordinary road.

The city of Zamora is considered to be the "city of Romanesque”. Its ensemble of Romanesque buildings (11th-12th centuries) is the most important one in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the most remarkable in Europe: the Cathedral, 24 churches, 9 houses, 2 palaces, a castle, a bridge and the city walls.

Centuries later (end of the 19th century-beginning of the 20th century), another architectural movement has left its mark in the city: Modernism. There are 19 modernist buildings in Zamora.

Among its outstanding festivities celebrating the Holy Week, declared of International Tourist Interest.

Overnight motorhome parking: Public parking (free). GPS coordinates: 41.503600, -5.755600. Google Street View

  • Catedral de Zamora vista desde la otra margen del río Duero
  • Iglesia de San Cipriano
  • Cúpula de la Catedral de Zamora
  • Iglesia de Santa Lucía
  • Iglesia de Santa María de la Horta
  • Puerta de Doña Urraca

 

6th day: Zamora - Salamanca.

Departure from Zamora. We will travel along the Silver Route as far as Salamanca, entirely by motorway (1 h 7 min, 67,4 km).

The “Universidad de Salamanca”, Salamanca’s university, founded in 1218, is Spain’s oldest university on active service. During the time that was one of the most prestigious universities in the West made ​​popular the phrase:

Quod natura non dat, Salamantica non praestat, meaning «What nature does not give, Salamanca does not pay».

Today, it continues to be one of the most prestigious and respected academic institutions. Thirty two thousand students –many of them foreign students– study in the city’s two universities; this creates a lively and festive university –and urban– environment.

In 1988, the old quarter was classified as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It contains an important architectural heritage, with remarkable sites like the two cathedrals (the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral), the “Casa de las Conchas”, the "Plaza Mayor”, the “Convento de San Esteban” and the “Escuelas Mayores”. In 2002 it was Cultural Capital City of Europe.

Overnight motorhome parking: Public parking (free). GPS coordinates: 40.957424, -5.677196. Google Street View

  • Cúpula de la Catedral Nueva
  • Catedral de Salamanca
  • Casa de las Conchas
  • Patio del Palacio Salinas
  • Plaza Mayor de Salamanca
  • Universidad de Salamanca

 

6th day: Salamanca - Ávila.

Departure from Salamanca towards Ávila. The 106 km journey by motorway A-50 is fast and simple, and it lasts 1 hour and a half.

The medieval city walls surrounding the old city are a symbol of Ávila. They started being built in the year 1090, cand they have 82 semicircular towers and 9 giant gateways. They are the most complete and best preserved city walls in Spain.

In 1884 they were declared “National Historical-Artistic Ensemble”. In 1985, the UNESCO registered the Old Quarter of the city (the city walls and the historical ensemble within), and, in 2005, they revised their decision to include the churches located outside the city walls.

Beyond the Walls, it should be noted the Cathedral of Ávila, the “Basílica de San Vicente”, San Pedro Church, the “Ermita de San Segundo” or the “Torreón de los Guzmanes”.

Tables are characteristic of Ávila, “judías del Barco”, “chuletón de Ávila”, “patatas revolconas” and “yemas” of Santa Teresa. Also worth mentioning “hornazo” (bread roll stuffed with sausage, bacon, steak and eggs), sweetbreads of veal or pork, “cuchifrito” in the capital and baked in Arévalo.

Overnight motorhome parking: Public parking (free). GPS coordinates: 40.661100, -4.704500. Google Street View

  • Murallas de Ávila
  • Basílica de los Santos Hermanos Mártires, Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta
  • Catedral de Ávila
  • Plaza del Mercado Chico
  • Puerta del Alcázar
  • Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás. Claustro de los Reyes Católicos

 

7th day: Ávila - Madrid-Barajas airport.

Departure from Ávila. In our journey to the International Airport in Madrid (Barajas), we can take two different roads. The motorway is the fastest one, though there are several tollbooths (129 km and 1 h 25 min). The alternative is to make the first half of the journey by secondary road, and then take the motorway (131 km and 2 hours).

Madrid is the capital city of Spain. It is the richest and most populated city of Spain, and the third city in population in Europe.

Madrid’s cultural life covers all the spheres and times of the day. Museums, theatres, musicals, concerts, opera, gastronomy… and night life and parties.

Examples of the city’s rich monument and architectural heritage are: the Egyptian Temple of Debod (2nd century B.C.); the so-called “Madrid de los Austrias” (16th and 17th centuries); and the “Complejo Cuatro Torres Business Area, CTBA" –the four highest skyscrapers in Spain, and among the 10 highest ones in Europe)

Madrid was Cultural Capital City of Europe in 1992.

  • Calle de Alcalá
  • Parque del Retiro
  • Plaza de Las Cibeles
  • Puerta de Alcalá
  • Vista del Palacio Real y de la Catedral de la Almudena
  • Vista nocturna del Templo de Debod

 

Castile and León is such a rich community and it has so many things to offer to tourists that the suggested 7-day route can be easily expanded to include other cities –and we really recommend that you do so! If we added the cities of Soria, Palencia and Valladolid, we would travel all the capital cities of the provinces of the community. Other very interesting places to visit are the towns of Aranda de Duero, Sahagún, Tordesillas, Medina del Campo and Astorga; also, the landscape of Las Médulas and the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca, both of which have been classified as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1997 and 2000, respectively.

 

If you enjoy this or any other route, tell us your adventures, comments or stories in Caravaning Foro.

 

Note: All photos displayed on this route have been obtained from Wikimedia Commons and are licensed by Creative Commons.

 
Acueducto de Segovia.
Alcázar de Segovia.
Catedral de Segovia.
Estatua de Juan Bravo.
Iglesia de San Millán.
Vista aérea general de Segovia.
Arco de Santa María.
Casa del Cordón.
Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas.
Panorámica de Burgos desde el Mirador del Castillo.
Triforio con decoración de cabezas en la Catedral de Burgos.
Tumba de Juan II de Castilla en la Cartuja de Miraflores.
Casa Botines.
Antiguo Ayuntamiento de León.
Basílica de San Isidoro.
Catedral de León.
Claustro del Convento de San Marcos.
Galería del claustro de San Isidoro.
Catedral de Zamora vista desde la otra margen del río Duero.
Iglesia de San Cipriano.
Cúpula de la Catedral de Zamora.
Iglesia de Santa Lucía.
Iglesia de Santa María de la Horta.
Puerta de Doña Urraca.
Cúpula de la Catedral Nueva.
Catedral de Salamanca.
Casa de las Conchas.
Patio del Palacio Salinas.
Plaza Mayor de Salamanca.
Universidad de Salamanca.
Murallas de Ávila.
Basílica de los Santos Hermanos Mártires, Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta.
Catedral de Ávila.
Plaza del Mercado Chico.
Puerta del Alcázar.
Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás. Claustro de los Reyes Católicos.
Calle de Alcalá.
Parque del Retiro.
Plaza de Las Cibeles.
Puerta de Alcalá.
Vista del Palacio Real y de la Catedral de la Almudena.
Vista nocturna del Templo de Debod.
Wikimedia Commons official web site.
Creative Commons official web site.
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Google Street View: Parking del velódromo.
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Google Street View: Parking público.
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Google Street View: Área de servicios para autocaravanas pública.
Google Maps: Parking público.
Google Street View: Parking público.
Google Maps: Parking público.
Google Street View: Parking público.
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Google Street View: Parking público.
 
 
 
 
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Headquarters GPS coordinates:
Latitude: +36° 40' 52.00".
Longitude: -4° 32' 12.50".
Decimal: 36.681100, -4.536800.
 
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Los Nogales, 52. Ctra. Churriana - Cártama (A-7052), km 0,6. C.P: 29130. Alhaurín de la Torre. (Málaga). Spain.
 
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