The villages designated non-tourist do not necessarily mean there is no tourism. What it means, rather, is that these are places whose focus of activity is not on the comings and goings of tourists, as may be the case with other small tourist destinations, which have welcomed thousands of visitors over the years. There is always tourism, everywhere and at every moment. There are always those interested who will travel in order to discover this or that place, famous or not. Here, we take a look at tourism, but without the masses.
There are still many villages, some of which could be deemed unknown, that have not received much attention from mainstream tourism, but have much to enjoy. Here are nine examples of non-tourist villages that all good travellers will not want to miss.
Located in the north of Alicante province, Planes is tucked away in a valley surrounded by mountains. From here one can wonder at the gorgeous scenery that this village offers and then enjoy the many trekking routes leading out of the village. From there, one can visit such natural spots as El Barranc de l’Encantada (The Enchanted ravine) and enjoy the natural swimming pools and waterfalls.
Planes is a village of colorful homes and narrow streets watched over by a castle upon the heights. While the adjoining villages were Moorish villas during the medieval period, Planes remained a Christian bastion, making the Iglesia de Santa María (Saint Mary’s church) the oldest church in the town. Along with that, other monuments of note are the Cruces de Término (Wayside Crosses), built at the end of the sixteenth century with the purpose of protecting travellers from evil spirits along the roads. Also, an aqueduct dating from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century can be seen. Indeed, Alicante is much more than the coast.
This Zaragozan town stands out for its long pottery making tradition, dating back to the eleventh century and as a result, today the Taller Escuela Cerámica (Ceramics School Workshop) can be enjoyed by all. From this workshop, which has preserved a good portion of pottery making history in the province, masterpieces of great value have been created. Many of these works can be seen in the exhibition hall.
For the most part, Muel is village with Moorish roots, as can be seen by its labyrinthine narrow streets. It has preserved the Renaissance-style palatial homes and the Iglesia de San Cristóbal (Saint Christopher’s church), though being of the late Baroque-style, also contains Mudejar elements. However, the artistic jewel in the crown comes from that Spanish maestro, Francisco de Goya, native of Fuendetodos, some twenty-five kilometers away. The young artist painted the frescoes on the cupola of the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Fuente (Our Lady of the Fountain chapel), located in a harmoninous setting blending art and nature together.
This Palentine village is believed by many to be the oldest such settlement in Spain. It was, undoubtedly, the first to have a town hall. The first such institution was born in the year 824 when Count Munio Núñez granted the Carta Puebla (Town Charter), thereby creating the Fuero de Brañosera (Brañosera City Council) and Spain’s first town hall.
Still preserved from this medieval past are the ruins from two exceptional monuments, the Iglesia de Santa Eulalia (Saint Eulalia’s church) and the Ermita de San Miguel (Saint Michael’s chapel). The mountain-style architecture of its traditional homes with its stone and wooden construction reflects Brañosera’s surroundings in Palencia, in the heart of the Parque Natural Montaña Palentina (Mount Palentine Natural Park)
This place, like many others, sufferd the consequences of the Spanish Civil War, though its splendor has been restored with the passing of time. Located in the Alcarria region, Hita has been decreed a national Historic-Artistic Site. The old quarter of the town is accessed by the Puerta de Santa María (Saint Mary’s gate), the only surviving section of the ancient town wall. The gate and the Torre del Homenaje (castle keep tower), which can still be glimpsed among the ruins, date from the fifteenth century. Indeed, Hita was one of the most significant castles in the area in its time.
Hita may sound familiar to some for it was the birthplace in the early 1300s of the author of El Libro de Buen Amor (Book of Good Love). The main square is dedicated to the Archpriest who wrote the book while the parish church has been consecrated to Saint John the Baptist. Beneath this historic quarter are subterrenean caves, most of which were used as wine cellars during medieval times in addition to being so-called cave dwellings. Outside the village sit the remains of the ancient seventh-century Monasterio de Santa María de Sopetrán (Saint Mary of Sopetrán’s monastery), which will surprise any visitor despite its ruinous state.
In the heart of the Galician Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Riverbank), one of the most exquisite settings in the peninsula, sits Os Peares, an unmissable meeting point for anyone wanting to visit this sacred terrain. The rivers Miño, Sil and Búbal meet here while the latter includes a riverside beach.
Os Peares lies in breathtaking surroundings and bears a geographic idiosyncrasy. They say it is either a place tied to nothing or tied to everything because it is located between the four municipal councils of Carballedo and Pantón, in Lugo province, and Nogueira de Ramuín and A Peroxa, in Ourense province. In other words, a crossroads. Incidentally, the eponymous peares has to do with the small stones that have been placed in rows across rivers and used for crossing.
Located in Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche (Sierra of Aracena and Aroche Peaks National Park), Alájar is a designated Historic-Artistic Site. Surrounded by the Aracena mountains, there are many lush hiking trails through the forests leading to other lovely localities.
There are some religious temples of interest for the traveller in Alájar such as the fifteenth century Ermita de San Bartolomé (Saint Bartholomew’s chapel). Walking through this quaint village in Huelva province, far from mass tourism, one will quickly discover the so-called llanos, elaborate mosaics at the entrances to homes, in beautiful shapes and colors and also quite useful. Near Alájar are caves that can be visited as well as the Mirador de la Peña de Arias Montano (Peña de Arias Montano observation point), from where stunning views can be had.
This small village in Cantabria is, in fact, colossal as it has every imaginable thing a typical northern mountain village would have. The characteristic architecture of this region is present in each and every one of its buildings, including the manor homes while hues of green pervade along the Quivierda river flowing through Carmona.
Carmona is a place to enjoy the calm and tranquility of its mountains, to let its cobbled streets carry you to another time or to take to its many trekking trails. The traditional trades are still present here in the day-to-day of its some 150 inhabitants. The most conspicuous sculpture in the village is dedicated to the Tudanca cow, a breed native to Cantabria.
In the heart of Tierra de Campos region lies Granja de Moreruela, a village on the Camino de Santiago (Saint James’ Pilgrimage route). From here the traveller must decide between continuing on the Camino Sanabrés (Sanabrés trail) or taking the Vía de la Plata (Silver trail), which further along in Galicia meets up with the busier Camino Francés (French trail).
This small locality in Zamora province cannot be understood without mentioning the Monasterio de Santa María de Moreruela (Saint Mary of Moreruela’s monastery). Now in ruins, this ancient twelfth century convent belonged to the Cistercian Order. Its monumentality and architectural value, despite its ruinous state, can still be appreciated and has been designated a Cultural Heritage site. After an unmissable visit to the monastery, Granja de Moreruela is the perfect place to rest and kick back without haste and no maps.
This village is known as The Manchegan Vatican, and there are reasons enough for this to be the case. Its fifty by twenty meter main square is one of the most intriguing in the country. Surrounded by colonnades, it was the work of Juan Alejandro Núñez de la Barrera and is also a declared Cultural Heritage Site.
The church of Santísimo Cristo del Valle, an outstanding Baroque temple erected in 1729 upon the ruins of an old sanctuary, beams in this square. This church was intended to exalt the power of the Spanish crown, inspired by the legend claiming that an image of Christ of the Valley would bestow miracles upon whomever made the pilgrimage to see it. Its four towers and the temple dome, as well as its colossal size and history, have earned it the title of The Manchegan Vatican.
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