A route through Spain's medieval towns and cities
Romanesque cloister in the church of San Pedro de la Rúa, in Estella
Here we suggest a route in Spain which is original and unconventional, but very interesting and attractive: it runs through our medieval towns and villages. The itinerary covers close to 1,500 kilometres across Spain from the north to the southwest, passing charming places surrounded by a variety of stunning countryside, with cultural heritage dating back to the Middle Ages.
If you are thinking of a cultural trip in Spain, then take note. The Medieval Towns and Villages Route goes from the Basque Country to Extremadura. Here you have the chance to explore Spain from the very shores of the Cantabrian Sea to beautiful rural, inland areas, and to enjoy the country's natural and cultural diversity. All along the way there are towns and villages with stunning heritage and monuments, perfectly conserved over the centuries. You will love their medieval atmosphere.
The full route comprises nine stages. You can do it all or choose the stages that interest you most. The route is ideal to follow by car, and the destinations along the way are well worth visiting. They all have shared history which can be seen clearly in their streets, packed with medieval palaces, churches, monasteries and castles. Nevertheless, each one has its own personality and attractions. You'll notice this as soon as the journey starts.
You can get underway in the Basque Country, in Hondarribia (Guipúzcoa province), right on the Basque coast. Amongst other things, you will love its maritime atmosphere, its nearby beaches and its internationally-renowned gastronomy. In the same Region, now inland in the province of Álava, you will find Laguardia. Make a stop to stroll around its old town and sample the local wine with the internationally prestigious Rioja Alavesa Designation of Origin. Just 60 kilometres away, another vital stop is in Estella or Lizarra. At this town in Navarre you will probably come across pilgrims, alone or in groups, with rucksacks on their backs. Don't be surprised. The Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route runs through here. It is the first European cultural route and also has the UNESCO World Heritage designation. Barely 100 kilometres further on, close to the Pyrenees, in the province of Zaragoza, it is well worth making a visit to the historic monuments of Sos del Rey Católico.
The route now enters the Region of Castile. First to Almazán, in Castile-León, with the Duero River and its huge fields of crops. The village of Pedraza (Segovia) is in the same region, and has a number of large mansions and an interesting historic quarter. The route continues on into the region of Castile-La Mancha . In Sigüenza (Guadalajara), you can discover what life was like for medieval knights. Almost one thousand years ago, El Cid Campeador, a legendary hero of Spanish history, passed through this town. Further south, in Consuegra, in the province of Toledo, you can see, amongst other things, the windmills that call to mind the imaginary giants from the story of Don Quixote, the immortal creation of writer Miguel de Cervantes.
The route finishes in the Region of Extremadura, in the towns of Coria (Cáceres province) and Olivenza (Badajoz province). They are very close to another, highly-recommended route –the Silver Route– that runs across Spain from south to north. There's loads to see, don't you think? Enjoy this cultural adventure in Spain. In each of these towns you will take an exciting trip back to the Middle Ages, learning about their history and traditions, and admiring the countryside that surrounds them. And if you don't have time to see it all, don't worry. We will be awaiting you on your next trip.
For more information: Spanish Network of Medieval Towns and Villages (website in Spanish only)