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Things to do in Castilla y León

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  • Monuments
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The top 5.295 attractions in Castilla y León

Historical Monuments in Segovia
Aqueduct of Segovia
Sometimes, one can get "ruins fatigue." You see so many old rocks, barely-recognizable buildings, and crumbled statues that they all blend in to one another. This is not the case of the Aqueduct of Segovia. As you're walking to the city center, you see it peaking above the buildings and you get a tickle in your stomach and think "man, that thing is massive!" Not only is it massive (around 6 storeys, I'd say), it's also in impeccable shape for being a 2,000 year old Roman monument. I'll leave it to the other recommendations on this page and the Segovia Tourism Bureau to tell you the full history of this archaeological wonder and UNESCO World Heritage Site, but I'll leave it at this: the Aqueduct of Segovia is, along with the Alhambra, one of the most amazing sights in Spain and the best-preserved and largest Roman ruin I've ever seen. I'd recommend checking it out first thing in the morning when you start your trip and around sunset when the rocks seem to glow in the golden sunlight. It goes without saying that you should visit the aqueduct if you're in Segovia, but I'd also say that anyone who visits Madrid should take the 30min. train (it's only 10 euros, after all) and see this amazing monument.
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Squares in Salamanca
Plaza Mayor of Salamanca
After a long night out in Salamanca (amongst a majority of students), there is no greater gift you can give the beleaguered body (which also deserves a break from time to time, "poor thing"), than a breakfast in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, (there are several cafes that look good). Hot churros with chocolate, a good coffee (or whatever it is I drank) relaxing the mind in front a statue that seems alive, of Torrente Ballester (adopted son of the City) in the oldest coffee house (of 1905) in Salamanca, the Novelty Café. While you eat breakfast, you can see around you the baroque art of the square, (also, street level art that can be enjoyed by all, which is what I like), or the coats of arms of famous celebrities from Spanish history (I was going to say illustrious, but there are some who don’t deserve it). This square (considered one of the most beautiful and impressive in Spain), was built in the eighteenth century (between 1729 and 1755) and, since then, has been the heart in which life is born (both night and day) in the city. By day the plaza shines with the gold of its stone, by night it is a promenade with much magic.
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Cathedrals in Burgos
Burgos Cathedral
Construction on the cathedral in Burgos began in 1221 under Fernando III, the King of Castilla, and was dedicated in 1765 with the construction of the towers and the dome. The long time it took to build this gothic cathedral gives it a unique architectural coherence due to the changes in styles and influences over the centuries. It has four entrances. The basilica has three chambers surrounded by thirteen precious chapels and a cross chamber that measures 70 meters wide. It is the same height as the central chamber and forms a Latin cross.
Historical Monuments in Ávila
Walls of Ávila
I’m not going to tell you about its incredible history, you have Wikipedia for that. I’m not going to tell you that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site (well,.. I just told you), or that King Alfonso VI of Castilla ordered their construction in the 11th century. I’m going to tell you about the experience of seeing the walls. It’s possible that you are someone who doesn’t like to follow the typical tourist path when you go to a city. Well, the most typical thing to do in Ávila is see the walls, and if you don’t walk around the top of the walls like everyone else, you’re really missing out. Visit them. See them. Climb them. Walk them. Not just from the outside, but paying the 4 € free and walking around the walls. Do it! It’s an order! Seriously, it’s completely worth it. It will take you back to another era and give you an idea of what a city needed to be able to survive those times. You’ll be surprised at how well conserved they are (which began back in 1596 when King Felipe II ordered restoration work done on the walls). And once you’ve arrived at the Cathedral, you have my permission to take a break and eat at one of the few (but excellent) high-quality restaurants within Ávila.
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Castles in Segovia
Alcázar of Segovia
The Alcázar (from the Arabic al-qasr, meaning castle) is, after the Aqueduct, the premier sight in Segovia and has been built and re-built from everyone from the Romans to the Arabs to the Catholics, giving us a good overview of the history of Segovia. The castle itself is a whimsical, fairytale-like structure with point towers, a staggeringly deep moat, rocky bridges, and arched windows which inspire the imagination so much that even Walt Disney himself used the castle as a basis for some of his works. When you enter, you have the option to visit the interior of the Alcazar as well as go to the top of the Juan II Tower, something I'd really recommend (unless you're claustrophobic...the winding stairwell is a bit tight). The interior of the Alcazar as throne rooms, royal bedrooms, and a hall of Kings, all of which are decorated with ostentatious roofs, red velvet, and mind-boggling tapestries. The Alcazar's location on a rocky outcropping above the rolling meadows also offers you the chance to take in some of the most beautiful views of the old city of Segovia with the mountains in the background, so make sure to bring your camera. All in all, you can't visit Segovia without stopping at the Alcazar.
Cathedrals in Leon
León Cathedral
The cathedral, the most representative of the gothic French style in all of Spain, isn’t the biggest of size, but it’s the biggest when it comes to spirituality. The luminosity resulting from the magnificent and extensive stain glass windows, gives something special to the building, which has two of the most important stained glass collections in Europe. You can count the thousands and thousands of artistic details throughout the cathedral. I’m an art student, and was completely impressed. The most famous legend about the cathedral of León and all of León is about the cathedral’s mole. If you visit the cathedral, make sure to look for the dark figure just above the main entrance. Legend says that when the cathedral was being built, the builders finished a wall, for example, and went home. When they returned to work the following morning, the wall they had built had toppled down. The same thing happened time and time again, until they realized it was a mole that was breaking the walls they were building. One night, after finishing, they stayed there to watch over the wall and hunt the mole. It’s believed that the workers buried the mole inside of the wall, just above the main entrance. That’s the story. All I can tell you is that if you happen to stop in León, you must take the time to see the cathedral. There are also guided tours, and entrance is free.
Cathedrals in Salamanca
New Cathedral of Salamanca
It is a truly special place. The entire city of Salamanca is imbued with magic, precious corners and spectacular views ... But of everything one can find in the city, my favourite has to be the cathedrals. No need to be a believer in order to perceive the beauty of these historic buildings, its aroma, its art and its history.
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Nature Reserves in Las Medulas
Las Médulas
Without a doubt, the is one of the most impactful landscapes in León, and a required stop for all that visit the province. It’s located in the region of Bierzo, about 20 km outside of Ponferrada and 150 km outside of the capital. It’s strangeness of this place has earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. It’s a natural monument and, due to its historic relevance, a cultural park. It has a spectacular reddish-colored landscape and strangely-shaped, clay-like mountains, where the Romans of Legio VII (in the first century) extracted gold using basic methods, mainly hydraulic energy. They took the water from the snow that accumulated in the mountains and launched it at great pressure take out the surface layers of land, leaving the precious gold nuggets in sight. When the gold was in deeper layers of the mountain, they caused cracks in the earth, forming caves that can still be seen. When they abandoned the site in the 3rd century, it has undergone transformations and some areas are now fully of vegetation (oak trees, chestnut trees, etc.). The best place to see this landscape is from the Orellán viewpoint. You can find the remnants of forts and other settlements on the outskirts. There’s plenty of hiking trails to follow, and an archeological room in Carucedo.
Cathedrals in Segovia
Segovia Cathedral
For me, the Cathedral of Segovia is the best sight in the city, even more so than the Aqueduct or Alcazar, which are both amazing in their own right. The Cathedral, though, has something special. It's a combination of the sheer size, the never-ending geometric detail of the domed ceilings, the dozens of ornate chapels and altars lining the walls, the soft light passing through the stained glass windows, and the holy quiet. It's overwhelming and upon entering you understand the biblical meaning of the word "awesome." The place fills up quickly around 11 or noon with (often noisy) group tours, so make sure to try and get there first thing in the morning. Photography of all kinds is prohibited, but no one's really watching so you can snap away without your flash. If not, just take the visit slow: check out the small details in the chapels, enjoy the towering spaces, and sit a while in the choir area. I'm not a cathedral guy, but trust me...this cathedral is incredible.
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Universities in Salamanca
University of Salamanca
The University of Salamanca is the second oldest university in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe. It was founded in 1218 as a comprehensive school and later converted into a University by the wise Alfonso X in 1254. Like Oxford or Cambridge, the University of Salamanca has several Halls of Residence. They were founded as charities that allowed poor students to receive a university education. Today many of these colleges remain, with the same function as before. Others have become faculties and part of the university. Today the University of Salamanca enjoys great prestige and is considered one of the most advanced research institutions. The University buildings we see on entering the old town function differently today than they did 3 or 4 centuries ago. The oldest buildings and classrooms (like the one with the famous facade) are no longer are used for conferences, special academic events or sightseeing. They have created many buildings around the old town, where today a great number of university classrooms are distributed (usually the Social and Natural Sciences are out of town, leaving inside the literal courses).
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Gardens in Salamanca
Huerto de Calixto y Melibea
This place is one of the most visited and beautiful in Salamanca, not only for its beautiful history but for the beautiful gardens wherein it rests. This is the garden of Calixto (Calisto) and Melibea, located on the old wall of Salamanca by the river Tormes. The work is by Fernando de Rojas, who wanted to demonstrate in the garden the romantic and medieval airs that they lived in at that time. The garden is about 2500 square meters and several elements attract the attention: the statue of Celestina (Celestina Monument) at the entrance, the fountain, the well, the bow and, of course, the distribution of plants and trees (where curiously, you are going to find many grapevines). It is also told that the city of Salamanca was the scene that inspired Fernando de Rojas to write his novel. This beautiful corner evokes, well, the place where the two lovers Calixto and Melibea met in La Celestina. Love, Nature, Romanticism and history make these gardens a secluded place for silence, meditation and romance. Alongside beautiful sunsets which were once witnessed by Calixto and Melibea.
Churches in Burgos
The Cartuja of Miraflores Monastery
We talked about this place at the tourist office in Burgos. It is in Fuentes Blancas Park. It was commissioned by Queen Isabella in the XV century, in 1441, and later suffered in fire. Of particular interest is the altarpiece and the tomb of Juan II and Isabella of Portugal, with a third party, Prince Alfonso de Castilla. Today it is still inhabited by Carthusian monks, who have displayed some important paintings that were in the cloister, for tourists. Worth seeing. We recommend it.
Villages in Orbaneja del Castillo
Castle Orbaneja
A small town located in the province of Burgos with hardly 50 citizens. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Burgos. Visitors hear the sound of the waterfall in the background of their visit, as it lies in the center of town and is the undisputed protagonist of the urban development. The crystalline waters sprout up from the Cueva de Agua (Water Cave), a cavern that open in the rocky cliff that presides over the town and divides it in two parts: village and town. This cave, that forms a part of the interesting Orbaneja complex, is the natural exit of the underground water system in the area. It's a charming place that's worth visiting.
Canyons in Ucero
Río Lobos Canyon
This place is truly beautiful. The deep canyon, the steep cliffs, hides a spectacular labyrinth of caves on the side. Some of them are sinkholes. The area is shaded by juniper trees and inhabited by griffin vultures, golden eagles and falcons. The majority of the paths that go through the park run next to clear waters of the Lobos river, dotted with water litties. Within the park, you'll find the Romanesque Saint Bartholomew chapel that was made in the 12th century. It is a nook filled with magic. It was one of the most important enclaves to the templar nights. In addition to hiking trails and nature, you're interested in eating great dishes, make sure to visit Vinuesa, Molinos del Duero, El Burgo de Osma, and the town of Calatañazor.
Villages in Pedraza
I didn't get to explore this medieval town until recently, and I was pleasantly surprised by its marvelous plaza and the narrow streets which are so perfect for pictures. It leaves you wanting more. It's one of those places which really leaves a mark both in your mind and in your heart.
Lakes in Puebla de Sanabria
Nature Reserves in Sepúlveda
Gardens in San Ildefonso
The Gardens of la Granja
There is little more to say than what has already been said. It's a must-see. As always, it is not the same as seeing it on direct television. I would like to highly a restaurant which we were told had only had been open three weeks. It's called "La Golondrina" and is very close to the bottom of the hill, next to the hotel Spa "Elizabeth Farnese". We ate there a few times and although the menu is not very extensive, the staff is very courteous and also a la carte dishes are delicious and very well presented and plentiful.
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