Castilla y León: A Look Inside One of Spain's Historical Regions

They say that if you want to see Spain's beautiful past, there's no way you shouldn't visit Castilla y León. It’s an autonomous region in Spain that plays a huge part in its history, with monuments, churches, and other historic landmarks that depict such Romanesque influence as dictated by its past. The region consists of 9 provinces, namely: Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid, and Zamora. Located northwest of Spain, what’s also good is that Castilla y León is one of the neighboring regions from Spain’s capital, Madrid. Coming from Madrid, these historic provinces can be easily traveled by land, and perhaps the easiest and most economic way is to hop on a bus.

In the last 4 years, I was able a few provinces in this region. To me, although they all sit in one region,  each is different from the another and has to be deeply explored. Here are my tales from every province, also mentioning must-see places that truly made my trip all worth it. 

Segovia

Acueducto de Segovia (Roman aqueduct)

As soon as I reached the downtown of Segovia, the long and huge Roman aqueduct welcomed me as if I went back in Spain's era of the Roman empire. Who else won’t be amazed by this construction that has been there for centuries? It's simply unimaginable how it was constructed back then, even in the absence of modern technology.

Segovia’s vibe is definitely Roman to me: from its architecture, to its locals (who spoke to me with Spanish-Italian accent) and up to its food. However, there’s this one dish that's purely Spanish and  Segovians are said to be the best makers of it, called the cochinillo asado. It’s roasted suckling pig with very tasty meat and crispy skin. It highly resembles the Philippine’s lechon and the only difference is the cochinillo asado’s smaller size. 

How to get there: From Madrid, it only takes around 1.5 hours to reach Segovia. Avanza Bus serves this route and the bus station in Madrid is in Moncloa. While I only went to Segovia for a day trip, I feel like it was just enough to explore and enjoy the place.

Alcazar de Segovia
Catedral de Segovia

Some of the must-see sites in Segovia include, as mentioned, the Acueducto de Segovia, Alcázar de Segovia (where they say Disneyland’s castle was based from), and the enormous and Gothic style Catedral de Segovia

Here’s a more comprehensive blog about Segovia I wrote a few years ago: 

When in Spain: Segovia

Ávila

Convento de Santa Teresa and Museo de Santa Teresa

Visiting Ávila was fulfilling a personal promise. I was molded by the Theresian teachings after studying at St. Theresa’s College Quezon City for 11 yearrs. Actually, while processing my visa to Spain, I prayed a lot to St. Theresa, saying that if my wish would be granted to make it to Spain, I’d definitely visit Ávila to give thanks. And so it happened. That’s why even if some people would frankly tell me there’s nothing much to travel for in Ávila, I still enjoyed traveling Ávila, feeling blessed to finally see the birthplace of St. Theresa. 

Avila is famous for its medieval walls, which are still intact surrounding the old town of Avila. These walls were for fortification, serving as the first line of defense against the Romans back then. The idea of its construction reminded me of Intramuros in Manila though however the walls in Intramuros aren’t that well-maintained anymore. It consists of nine gates, two of the well-known are the Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar

Basilica de San Vicente
Catedral de Avila

Aside from the walls, other places to visit in Avila include the Catedral de Ávila, Convento de Santa Teresa de Jesús, Plaza Mayor de Ávila, and Basílica de San Vicente.

A famous food souvenir in Avila is the yema de Sta. Teresa. Yema is a dessert made up of egg yolk , milk, and sugar. The Philippines adopted the same dessert, however, Avila's yema is round-shaped and softer than the Filipino version that's triangular, often hard, and wrapped in colorful cellophane. 

How to get there: From Madrid, it takes 1.5 hours by bus. Jiménez Dorado Bus serves this route where it can be hailed from the Estación del Sur in Madrid across the Méndez Álvaro metro/RENFE train station.


Salamanca

Universidad de Salamanca

El que quiera saber, que vaya a Salamanca.” (rough translation: “He who wants to learn, goes to Salamanca.”)

There are so many sayings about the province of Salamanca, which all centers one topic: education. In the presence of several historic and reputable universities, Salamanca has been known as the center for Spain’s education. It’s also home of one of the oldest universities in Spain: the Universidad de Salamanca.

The famous entrance door of Universidad de Salamanca

There’s a very popular belief that first-year students of the university must find the frog carved on the wall of the university’s main entrance door. If they find it, it’s said to bring good luck in their studies. Nowadays, it has also been passed on to everyone, not just among students, thus even travelers are challenged by this long-standing tradition. 

Catedral de Salamanca
Convento de San Esteban

Aside from this famous school, other must-see places in Salamanca are: Catedral de Salamanca, Casa de las Conchas, Puente Romano, and Convento de San Esteban. A notable characteristic of the architecture in Salamanca are the beautiful and detailed carvings of its cathedrals, universities, and other old buildings. 

View from Puente Romano

How to get there: Salamanca is located west and borders Portugal. From Madrid, it takes roughly 3.25 hours by bus to get to this province. Like for Segovia, Avanza Bus serves this route and the bus station in Madrid is in Estación del Sur across the Méndez Álvaro metro/RENFE train station.


Castilla y León: A Look Inside One of Spain's Historical Regions Castilla y León: A Look Inside One of Spain's Historical Regions Reviewed by Shelly Viajera Travel on 27.2.21 Rating: 5

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