Visit Castile and Leon
Castile and Leon are united to form Spain's biggest region. This region (known in Spain as Castilla y Leon) was the driving force of the Reconquest and its leaders brought great wealth to the region. If you are looking for monuments, art treasures and historic sights this is the region to choose.
Salamanca and Leon are the highlights and rank amongst the most beautiful cities of Spain. Burgos and Ciudad Rodrigo are also not to be missed as well as many smaller towns.
The land is hostile, a large flat plain, the meseta, baking in summer and freezing in winter and covered in crops. It is not for the scenery that you visit this part of Spain it is for the spectacular architecture. Indeed this area has 7 of the top 30 most beautiful villages of Spain - more than any other region.
Cities and Places to Visit in Castile and Leon
Avila - surrounded by the best medieval walls in Europe. Punctuated by 88 towers the wall is truly amazing.
Astorga - with a fine cathedral and a multi-turreted palace the Palacio Episcopal (Bishop's Palace) designed by Gaudi. One of Spain's most beautiful villages.
Burgos - birthplace of El Cid. Burgos has some great architecture and art treasures from its wealth wool-trading days. The Arco de Santa Maria, the bridge of Santa Maria is an extravagantly elaborate bridge which leads into the old town. Its gothic cathedral is one of Spain's best and it has a wealth of superb churches and a couple of monasteries plus the 15th century palace the Casa del Cordon.
Carrion de los Condes - the town which every year had to hand over one hundred virgins to the Moorish lords. This scene is carved on the portal of the Santa Maria.
Castrillo de los Polvazares - one of Spain's most beautiful villages
Coca Castle / Castillo de Coca - 15th century castle with a Mudejar military style of architecture.
Covarrubias - has a lovely medieval old town surrounded by Medieval walls.
Ciudad Rodrigo - a beautiful old town with a 14th century castle, now a parador and an attractive cathedral. The streets are lined with Renaissance mansions. One of Spain's most beautiful towns.
El Burgo de Osma - an attractive village with a cathedral with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque features.
Gormaz is a castle which was originally built in caliphate style, two doorways survive, it was later rebuilt and became the largest fortified building in the West. It is now a ruin but still worth a visit.
La Alberca - the houses in this attractive village have been built from a wide range of materials. Its mountainous setting adds to the charm of the village. The village has been declared a national monument. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.
La Granja de San Ildefonso - a beautiful palace built as a Royal Retreat by Philip V. Modelled on the palace and gardens of Versailles where Philip spent time with his grandfather Louis XIV of France.
Leon - no trip to Castile and Leon is complete without a trip to Leon. Visit the famous gothic cathedral and view the stained glass windows, the Basilica of San Isidoro and San Marcos Convent now a luxury parador.
Lerma - a town with lots of grand buildings due to the spending by the first Duke of Lerma of his ill-gotten gains!
Medina del Campo - home to a huge Gothic-Mudejar style castle the Castillo de la Mota.
Pedraza de la Sierra - with fine medieval walls and buildings and a huge castle. One of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
Penafiel - has a huge castle which looks like a battleship. The town itself has a Plaza whose buildings are all wooden. It is used as a bullring in August.
Penalba de Santiago - one of the most beautiful villages of Spain.
Penaranda de Duero - one of the nicest villages in Old Castile and it has a lovely Renaissance Palace - the Palacio de los Condes de Miranda - and an imposing castle dating from the Reconquest.
Polvazares castle and village - the village contains unique architecture and is one of Spain's most beautiful villages.
Ponferrada - named after its iron bridge, has a small old town and a great Templar castle.
Puebla de Sanabria - a popular holiday resort around a large glacial lake.
Salamanca - one of the most beautiful cities of all of Spain. Packed with fine Renaissance architecture the city has a golden glow due to the beautiful colour of its stone. The Plaza Major is surrounded by incredible buildings, there are two cathedrals, a lovely 15th century tower with Mudejar detail, one of Europe's oldest and finest universities and much more.
Segovia - situated on a rocky outcrop above the rivers Eresma and Clamores. Segovia has an amazing gothic cathedral and the Alcazar a Moorish castle which dominates the city. The town also boasts a splendid Roman aqueduct.
Sepulveda - An attractive town in a splendid location with views of the Sierra de Guadarrama. Nearby is the National Park of las Hoces del Duration.
Soria - an attractive town with a medieval centre and a 13th century cloister with unusual interlaced arches. Above the town is a castle ruin.
Tordesillas - home to the Convento de Santa Clara which was converted into a home for Maria de Padilla mistress of Pedro the Cruel. She decorated/renovated it with lots of Moorish detail to remind her of Andalucia where she grew up.
Uruena - one of Spain's most beautiful villages.
Valladolid - capital of Castile and Leon and famous for its gardens. Valladolid has some magnificent Renaissance art and architecture but it is being left to fall into decline.
Villafranca del Bierzo - Attractive town with mansions, a castle, churches and convents.
Zamora - lots of Romanesque churches are scattered around the old quarter and these are home to colonies of storks. Its cathedral has an unusual domed roof and Mudejar-style pulpits.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Castile and Leon
- Burgos Cathedral
- Las Medulas
- Old town of Avila with its Extra-Muros churches
- Old town of Segovia and its aqueduct
- Archaeological site of Atapuerca
- Route of Camino de Santiago de Compostella
Museum of Burgos - archaeological treasures
Museum of Leon - an excellent museum
National Museum of Escultura - museum of religious sculptures, housed in a beautiful building, Valladolid. This is one of the best sculpture museums in Spain.
Oriental Museum, Valladolid - items from China and the Philippines
Art Nouveau and Art Deco museum of Salamanca - the collection includes furniture, jewellery and furniture.
Cuevas de Valporquero/ Caves of Valporquero - a huge system of limestone caves with incredible stalactites lit to great effect.
Sierra de Francia and Sierre de Bejar, rolling hills and flat plains and some delightful villages scattered throughout. The villages of Miranda del Castanar, Bejar, Candelario and La Alberca are among the best.
Sierra de Gredos, an attractive mountain range. The National Park of Gredos lies near its highest peak, the Pico Almanzor at 2592m high.
National Park of las Hoces del Duration near Sepulveda.
Las Medulas is the jagged remains left from strip mining for gold in Roman times. Sounds terrible but is spookily beautiful and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site./p>
Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos - an 11th century monastery in a peaceful setting. It has lovely Romanesque cloisters and carved capitals. It is one of the best in Spain. The monks in this monastery released a best selling CD of Gregorian chant and are thought to be one of the top three Gregorian chant choirs in the world. Attend the morning Mass or vespers to hear them or even better Saturdays and Sundays at noon.
Carracedo del Monasterio - a large ruined monastery near Villafranca del Bierzo.
Real Monasterio de las Huelgas - a 12 century Cistercian convent. It has a gothic cloister decorated in Moorish style.
Cartuja de Miraflores - a Carthusian monastery of the 15th century. Contains two tombs and an altarpiece by Gil de Siloe.
Gardens of La Granja de San Ildefonso - These are very French-style gardens with lots of parterres, fountains and statues. La Granja was a royal retreat for the king of Spain.
Valladolid is a town famous for its attractive gardens.
Paradors of Castile and Leon
- Parador de Avila, Avila
- Parador de Benavente, Benavente
- Parador de Villafranca del Bierzo, Villafranca del Bierzo
- Parador de la Granja, La Granja de San Ildefonso
- Parador de Cervera de Pisuerga, Cervera de Pisuerga
- Parador de Ciudad Rodrigo, Ciudad Rodrigo
- Parador de Gredos, Gredos
- Parador de Leon, Leon
- Parador de Lerma, Lerma
- Parador de Puebla de Sanabria, Puebla de Sanabria
- Parador de Salamanca, Salamanca
- Parador de Segovia, Segovia
- Parador de Soria, Soria
- Parador de Tordesillas, Tordesillas
- Parador de Zamora, Zamora
This region of Spain is home to the famous Rioja wine. Look out for the Reserva or Gran Reserva when selecting. Haro is at the centre of Rioja production.
Map of Castile and Leon & places nearby