Touring the villages of Salamanca ensures a round-trip ticket to travel back in time. Walking through its streets or exploring its natural spaces opens the door to a fantasy that almost feels real while touring this Castilian province. A fantasy that extends to the after-dinner moments in front of its renowned gastronomy. Moments that inhabit a crossroads between excellent local products and a cuisine connected to the tradition of generations gathered around the fire.
The university city par excellence is the capital of the province. Adorned with a Roman bridge over the Tormes River, it is paved by the footsteps of its ancient inhabitants, still wandering near the cathedrals. Others walk through the center, drawing the corners of the Plaza Mayor or looking for treasures on the facade of the Casa de las Conchas. Under the protection of its name, medieval villages are born in the middle of deep forests. Let the journey begin.
Located in the heart of the Sierra de Francia, at more than 1000 meters of altitude, is this medieval village. In La Alberca time seems to have stopped, keeping the landscape of the village in a drop of amber. From its Plaza Mayor, dominated by flower-colored balconies, to the Hermitage of San Marcos. From the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, to the Puente del Arroyo.
A place, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, where the magic of a characteristic architecture blends with a unique natural setting. Integrated in the Natural Park Batuecas-Sierra de Francia, it is crowned by mountains where eagles and black storks reign. In its interior await thick forests full of ancestral spaces and mysteries. The traditions of its past still echo in its present.
Ciudad Rodrigo remains ‘Ancient, Noble and Loyal’, surrounded by its medieval walls, converted into a starry enclosure. In this town, and throughout its region, the past comes alive at every step. The Cathedral of Santa María, its Pórtico del Perdón and its Torre de las Campanas, are, even today, faithful testimonies of its splendor. As is the Alcázar of Henry II of Trastámara, today converted into a Parador Nacional de Turismo.
Its palaces and houses deserve special mention. Starting with the Palace of the Águila, the largest of all, followed by the Palace of Montarco, or that of the Marquesa de Cartago. The Casa de los Velasco, or the Casa de los Miranda, are just a small sample, to which must be added the Hospital de la Pasión, of Jewish influence. But the entire geography of its streets invites you to stop at every step to enjoy an impressive wealth of heritage.
In Ledesma, its bridges, the old, the new and the Roman, seem to cross beyond the Tormes River, to another era. Its walls guard a historic-artistic complex in which stone and water raise their voices above the landscape of the Paseo de Alonso Andrea. There, next to the legend of the character that lends its name, rises an equally legendary panoramic view. The view reaches from the Ermita de la Virgen del Carmen to the Menhir del Mirador.
The 15th century saw a period of splendor for the Roman Bletisa thanks to the intervention of Beltrán de la Cueva, the servant of Henry IV of Castile. By his hand, the so-called Ledesma Fortress was enlarged and beautiful buildings were erected. Do not miss La Casa de las Almenas, with its cloister and garden, nor pass by the Palacio de los Dieces or the Plaza Mayor. At the end of the walk, a break awaits sweetened by Ledesma donuts, a sweet with a tradition of 150 years.
In Mogarraz, almost 800 meters above sea level, in the heart of the Sierra de Francia, the protagonists are its neighbours. The hand of Florencio Maíllo, a local artist, their faces adorn the facades of the traditional houses. An architecture twinned to that of the nearby La Alberca, less than eight kilometers away.
As is the case there, its historical ensemble, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, is perfectly preserved. In the center you can enjoy the beautiful Plaza Mayor, while tasting a wine with designation of origin Sierra de Francia. Then you can walk under the stone facades, stop at the Church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves or at the Casa de las Artesanías. Nature also has a place, through the Water Way, crossed by rivers, streams and works of art, mimicked with the landscape.
In Alba de Tormes are rooted the origins of the House of Alba and of the pilgrimage to visit the tomb of Saint Teresa of Jesus. Died at the end of the 16th century in the Convent of the Carmelites, her body rests today in the Basilica that bears her name. It is possible to contemplate the relics of the Saint (her heart and arm), exposed to the public, and continue the visit to the Monastery of the Annunciation and its museum.
The sound of the river takes center stage in a landscape that extends towards the medieval bridge. The views from the old fortress, now El Espolón Park, are marvelous. Meanwhile, from a vantage point, the Castle of Alba has watched over the lands of the duchy since the 12th century.
Monleón is a secret, hidden in the region of Entresierras, within the lands of Guijuelo. A place between rivers, the Alagón and the Frío, and mountains. Almost 900 meters separate it from the sea level and turn its surroundings into a practically virgin paradise. The natural spaces, bordering rocky shores and peaks, are an attraction in themselves. Its environment extends in fairytale landscapes, such as Santa Ana. With an orography that molds places where water shapes the architecture of the rocks: the Ollas de la Sapa, next to the Alagón river.
Of its castle, from the 15th century, little remains, but one can sense its role as a fortified square in the walled enclosure that separates it from the valley. In the same way, its long-lived past can be guessed in the pre-Roman fortification that guards the Puerta de la Villa, the Jewish Quarter or the stone wine presses that are preserved. But this is only the beginning…
The Tormes River, which has grown by the thawing of the Sierra de Gredos, opens its course in the Congosto bridge. Shortly after it calms down, at the Santa Teresa Dam, to arrive calmly to the fluvial beach. In its course, under the medieval bridge, it chisels shapes that can only be explained by the magic of water. Meanwhile, on it, the steps of the cattle that have crossed it for centuries, in its passage through the Cañada Real Soriana Occidental, resound.
Coats of arms and lintels sow this town declared Historic Site in which the Casa de la Alhóndiga and the Casa del Alemán stand out. On the left bank of the river, the Castle of the Dávila remains alert to possible dangers, as well as the defensive tower of the Old Bridge, from the XVI century. Perhaps glimpsing the arrival of pilgrims on the Way to Santiago to the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.
On a hill, on which stands its castle, stands the town of Miranda del Castañar, south of the province of Salamanca. It is protected by a territory of forests of strawberry and chestnut trees and, closer by, a wall of which some of its gates survive. In its interior coexist in harmony, emblazoned houses with the typical masonry constructions. It preserves an important religious architectural legacy exemplified in the Chapels of Cristo del Humilladero and Virgen de la Cuesta. In addition to a parish church, Gothic of the sixteenth century, and its Tower of the Bells.
Many elements of civil heritage also survive among the cobbled streets of Miranda del Castañar. In a corner of the square is the Royal Jail. In addition to the Casa del Escribano and, in the location of the current town hall, the Alhóndiga or trading house. Legend and nature surround Miranda, crossed by multiple routes of wonders and adventure.
Former administrative capital of the Sierra de Francia, Sequeros is another of the villages declared Historic Site in these lands. Its architecture, with three-storey houses and balconies, reveals that it was a town populated by bourgeois, especially from the 19th century. There they attended the typical bullfighting shows, frequented the Plaza del Altozano or attended the Teatro del Liceo. But in Sequeros there is also space for the typical constructions of the sierra, pierced by portals and passages. The map also shows labyrinthine areas. Some of them lead to unsuspected places. From a Jewish aljama, in the Plaza del Infiernillo, to that of Eloy Bullón, with its characteristic well. Passing through its course fountains and small squares, the Parish Church of San Sebastian and a lot of places only shown to those who explore them.
In the Sierra, faith and nature murmur the same prayer, materialized in extraordinary places that host the Monastery of Peña de Francia or the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Robledo. The Forest of Mirrors is the end and beginning of a circle that unites the names of the nearby villages.
Montemayor is a mirage that only becomes real when you are close. Hidden in a deep forest of oak and chestnut trees, the essence of an autumn of eternal calm can be felt. A small Jewish quarter is the surprise that awaits within the surprise, although there are many more.
The viewpoint of the village, with fairytale views, or the Castle of San Vicente, a unique opportunity to visit a fortress in these latitudes. The trail that connects Montemayor with El Cerro is perfect for mushroom hunters. Although the Sierra de Béjar offers a thousand and one more routes where you can get lost and find yourself, while the Cuerpo de Hombre river plays the music.
San Felices de los Gallegos has been inhabited by different peoples, local and foreign, since the beginning of its history. The Portuguese, with a 13th century castle and the inhabitants of the former Gallaecia left their mark on its landscape. But it is to the Gauls that we owe the famous Bridge of the French that crosses the Águeda River. A flow that crosses the lushness of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park.
Leonor de Alburquerque, grandmother of Ferdinand the Catholic, was one of its illustrious inhabitants. Later came the House of Alba, but during the twentieth century abandonment knocked on the door of this medieval village. Today the situation is completely different. San Felices holds the recent title of most beautiful village of Castile and León. Its churches, the church of the Agustinas de la Pasión and Nuestra Señora, the Torre de las Campanas and the Casa de los Mayorazgos, are some of its attractions. But the repelados and perronillas made by the seven Augustinian nuns who still occupy the convent, are not far behind.