In this scenic rural region northwest of Madrid, couples can travel back in time and bear witness to the march of civilization.
A feast for the senses, Castilla y León reveals itself via architectural treasures and archeology finds, through centuries-old traditions and lively festivals, and with classic wines and contemporary cuisine.
Castilla y León is a Major World Heritage RegionMajestic cathedrals, World Heritage sites, historic landmarks, castles, museums, and hundreds of churches and chapels underscore the fact that Castilla y León is a precious part of the world and one critical to preserve.
Its ancient towns of Ávila, Salamanca, and Segovia, all deemed World Heritage cities by Unesco, are places of enormous aesthetic and anthropological value.
The Old City of Salamanca, for instance, was conquered by Hannibal in the 3rd century B.C, became a Roman settlement, and was ruled by Moors until the 11th century. Its university is one of the oldest in Europe, and the city's historic center contains Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. Once used for bullfights, 18th-century Plaza Mayor is among Spain’s largest public squares; today its arcades are filled with modern cafes, shops, and galleries.
Camino de Santiago, a route the devout have followed for centuries, is another World Heritage designee. It weaves across the Castilla y León provinces of León, Palencia, and Burgos, which is home to the Gothic masterpiece, Burgos Cathedral.
Ten miles to its east, Atapuerca is a priceless archeological site where fossils confirming the existence of humans in Europe one million years ago have been found. Tour guides lead visitors through its complex of limestone caverns.
Gourmet Cuisine at Michelin-Starred Restaurants in Castilla y LeónCastilla y León’s recipe for culinary distinction is deceptively simple: Start with the freshest meat, dairy, fish, and local produce; spark the creativity of chefs who are masters of tradition and craftsmanship; situate their restaurants in picturesque, historic buildings; then behold the harmonious creations they bring to the table, as delightful to the eye as they are to the palate.
Gourmets who visit Castilla y León have the pleasure of dining at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across the region. Among them:
- Pedro Mario Alonso’s Restaurante El Ermitaño in Zamora, set among an orchard and 17th-century chapel
- León’s Restaurante Vivaldi guided by well-known cookbook author and lecturer Carlos Domingo Cidón
- The eponymous Restaurante Victor Gutiérrez in the oldest part of Salamanca
- El Rincón de Antonio in Zamora, which maintains a 600-selection wine list and is under the direction of master chocolatier Antonio González de las Heras.
Vines & Wines of Castilla y LeónCastilla y León’s history as a wine-producing region stretches back two centuries, with the Visigoths credited for instituting a rule that for every uprooted vine, two new ones were to be planted.
Since then the wine region spanning out from the Duero River has flourished, with hundreds of wine cellars producing a variety of quality wines.
Visiting oenophiles can taste everything from young, fruity vinos jovenes to aged tintos de guarda, crianzas, and reservas. Castilla y León’s vineyards also yield distinctive whites, robust reds, sparkling wines, high-alcohol-content licorosos, and aguardiente brandies. Well-informed sommeliers add to diners’ pleasure by recommending regional spirits to complement their meal.
Posadas Reales: Guest Houses That Treat Visitors RoyallyEncounter the true soul of Spain in her extraordinary royal guest houses, set in a peaceful world apart from big-city stress. In towns that have historical value, are home to important monuments, or stand amidst outstanding natural beauty, the Posadas Reales of Castilla y León provide the charm, comfort, and personal attention that characterize the best getaways.
Inns classified as Posadas Reales wear the label as a mark of pride and testament to their excellence. Architecturally distinctive, they are surrounded by memorable attractions and ample activities for visitors to explore in their leisure time. Have a passion for biking country roads, horseback riding, canoeing? Indulge in these uncrowded havens.
Hosteria El Convento is a Posada Reale located in a former Benedictine monastery building in the village of Santa María de Mave. Outside is a garden with a small zoo. Guests dine on traditional Castilian cuisine prepared using local products and cooked according to recipes created by the monks who inhabited in the convent.
The 18th-century Hospedería de Santo Domingo, in the old Jewish quarter of the walled village of Pedraza, once belonged to a local nobleman. Recently refurbished to respect the original architecture and maintain the coat of arms that reads: Slaves to Jesus and Mary. In the year 1703, this Posada Reale also installed satellite TV, a phone, an Internet connection, and other modern necessities in its guest rooms.
Events & CelebrationsPlan your vacation to coincide with one of Castilla y León’s festivals. Harvest time, saints’ days, and historical galas are celebrated with passion even in the smallest towns. As a visitor, it’s an opportunity to experience first-hand the warmth and hospitality of the people of this region.
Food & Wine Festivals highlight the area’s agriculture at events that pay tribute to regional products and feature local entertainment.
Religious Festivals commemorate a venerated person, event, or tradition and usually include colorful processions.
Historic and Cultural Festivals pay homage to the past with spectacular ethnic and folklore events.
Holy Week — somber and moving, passionate and artistic, quiet and contemplative — attracts the largest number of visitors each year.