Valladolid is the capital of the province of Valladolid and the capital of the Castile and Leon region of Spain. Valladolid is a beautiful, colourful and vibrant town well worth a visit.
Valladolid has been home to many Spanish notables, once vied with Madrid as capital of Spain and has seen some of Spain's greatest art and architecture. It's Plaza Mayor is superb. It is a large square surrounded by arcaded buildings and was the first plaza of its kind to be built in Spain. It is now replicated throughout Spain and South America.
The Plaza Mayor will be at the centre of your visit to Valladolid. With its arcaded buildings mostly painted a deep red and the imposing town hall it is simply beautiful. It is packed with bars and restaurants and it is a great spot to stop for refreshments.
Radiating out from the Plaza Mayor are many more streets and squares all painted in the vibrant colours particular to Vallodalid.
Many of the buildings have the glassed in balconies which are common throughout Spain and some are covered in tiles in a way that reminds us of Portugal where this is common practice.
There are quite a number of palaces to be discovered as you walk the streets and these include Pimentel Palace where King Philip II was born and the 16th century Palace of the Marquises of Valverde.
Close to the Plaza Mayor is Valladolid's cathedral commissioned by Philip II but which remains unfinished. Inside is a reredos (the decorated screen behind the alter) by Juan de Juni and in its museum are carvings by Gregorio Fernandez.
Valladolid's 15th century university is another notable building in Valladolid. It has a Baroque facade by Narisco Tomé who later did the Transparente in Toledo Cathedral. One of the university buildings - the Colegio de Santa Cruz has a lovely three storey patio. It is open during working hours.
Valladolid's university was once one of the most important in Spain. It is still a thriving university town and the presence of the students means the town has a great ambience on an evening too.
Valladolid was home to Cervantes between 1603 and 1606 and it is here that he completed his famous novel - Don Quixote. The House of Cervantes is open for visits and inside contains furnishings typical of the period for a noble family.
Museums in Valladolid
Near to Valladolid's Plaza Mayor is the Museo de San Joaquin and Sant Ana which houses 3 Goya paintings.
The Monastery of San Benito houses the Museo Patio Herreraino which is a Contemporary Art Museum containing works by Joan Miro, Antoni Tapies and many more. It is also a chance to have a closer look at the monastery itself which has a lovely Renaissance courtyard.
The Museo de Valladolid is an archeology and art museum housed in a Renaissance mansion.
The Museo Nacional de Escultura (National Sculpture Museum) housed in the lovely Colegio de San Gregorio houses many religious sculptures by the best artists of the Spanish Renaissance. Works include some by Deigo de Siloé, Juan de Juni and Gregorio Fernandez. The building has a superb Isabelline (late Gothic) facade and a Plateresque staircase and a beautiful patio with twisted columns. This collection is Spain's best collection of multi-coloured wooden religious sculpture.
The Museo Oriental has some excellent pieces of Chinese art and Philippine art. These were collected by Spanish missionaries sent out by the Colegio de Agustinos (where the museum is housed) who went to China and the Philippines in the 16-19 centuries.
Cultural Events in Valladolid
One of the major events in Valladolid's calender is the Easter week celebrations. These have been declared a "Festival of Tourist interest" and include religious parades dressed in the hooded robes worn in Spain for these events and the processions of various religious works of art.
Seminci is the International Film Festival of Valladolid and takes place in October each year.
Places to see near Valladolid
Simancas to the southwest of Valladolid is home to a large castle - now home to Spain's national archive.
Another castle can be seen at Penafiel to the east of Valladolid. It has a long narrow shape often compared to a battleship.
Medina del Campo is not far away and is home to a huge Moorish castle - the Castillo La Mota.
Photos of Valladolid
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Map of Valladolid and places to visit
Valladolid places to visit
See more places nearby in the Castile and Leon guide