Panoramic view of Frías in Burgos (Castilla y León)

Treasures of unknown Spain in Castilla y León

Castilla y Leon

Come and experience a different side of Spain. Rural Spain, inland and far from the crowds and noise of the cities, with lovely, peaceful little villages. We suggest a tour of the Castilla y León region through some of its smallest, prettiest villages.

Pedraza, Segovia

Less than an hour from Madrid, this medieval village of cobbled streets will transport you to the 16th and 17th centuries, when most of its mansions were built. Its prosperity back then was thanks to the high quality cloth made there, competing with the imports from Flanders. Its Plaza Mayor is especially charming, with porticoes and pavement cafés offering shady spots to sit and have something to eat or drink. After that, you might want to visit the castle and the restored city walls. At lunchtime, follow your nose and the delicious smells coming from the asadores - restaurants specialising in roast meat. The area is famous for suckling pig and lamb. There is one time of year when Pedraza is even more special: the first two Saturdays of July, when they celebrate the Candlelit Night and Candlelit Concert. When night falls the village is lit by thousands of candles, and the silence is broken only by the sound of a classical orchestra. It is advisable to book in advance. Some more villages in Segovia worth visiting: Maderuelo, Ayllón, Sepúlveda, El Muyo, Sotosalbos… to name a few.

Plaza Mayor square in Pedraza

Bonilla de la Sierra, in Ávila

This little-known village was chosen to be the retreat of kings and bishops, and was a privileged enclave in the 14th and 15th centuries. It’s less than an hour from the city of Ávila, and about two hours from Madrid.You can begin on Plaza de la Villa, and then see the collegiate church of San Martín de Tours (Gothic, with interesting gargoyles), Pozo de Santa Bárbara, and the 12th-century castle of the Bishops of Ávila.And here's an interesting fact: they say that the colours of this village inspired Goya himself. He was a frequent visitor to the nearby village of Piedrahíta, which you can also visit.Some more villages in Ávila worth visiting:Arévalo, Arenas de San Pedro, Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Candeleda, El Barco de Ávila, Las Navas del Marqués, Tiemblo, etc.

Defensive walls of Bonilla de la Sierra

Mogarraz, in Salamanca

In the middle of Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park, this is one of the prettiest villages in the area, about an hour’s journey from the city of Salamanca. As you stroll around its cobbled streets, you’ll discover examples of traditional architecture, and the terracing system that enables farming on the steep hillsides, integrating perfectly with the surroundings.Mogarraz is also a kind of outdoor museum. Its façades are adorned with hundreds of portraits of past and present residents. They were painted on metal plates by a local artist who wanted to pay homage to the people who have kept the village alive over the years. Currently about 300 people live there.Some more villages in Salamanca worth visiting:La Alberca, Candealario, Cantalapiedra, San Martín de Castañar…

Mogarraz, Salamanca

Granja de Moreruela, in Zamora

The monastery of Santa María de Moreruela is a good example of the hidden treasures of inland Spain, in a small village of no more than 300 inhabitants. This was once an important Cistercian monastery and the spiritual centre of the area in the 12th century. Its façade is still very well preserved.The village is just under 40 kilometres from Zamora and is on the popular Silver Route. When you visit, don’t forget the Quintos bridge and the church of San Juan Bautista, built with stones from the monastery of Santa María de Moreruela.Some more villages in Zamora worth visiting:Fermoselle, Galende, Puebla de Sanabria, Alcañices, San Martín de Castañeda…

Monastery of Moreruela, Zamora

Urueña, in Valladolid

This village boasts five museums, 12 bookshops and a reading room, despite having fewer than 200 inhabitants. Urueña is known as a Book Town and is just a 45-minute drive from Valladolid.It retains its medieval street plan, 80% of its original fortified town wall, and the outer walls of its castle. It’s a delight to walk through its orderly streets of stone houses to the Renaissance church of Santa María de Azogue. For a lovely view of the town, climb up to the nearby chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Anunciada, an example of Lombard Romanesque architecture.Some more villages in Valladolid worth visiting: Trigueros del Valle, Villalba de los Alcores, Medina de Rioseco, Íscar, Simancas

Town wall of Urueña, Valladolid

Frías, in Burgos

As you approach Frías the village seems to rise dramatically out of the green landscape. The highest points are the 10th-century fortress and the church of San Vicente Mártir, with fantastic views from both spots. Its medieval bridge, originally a Roman structure, is also interesting.If you approach Frías from the south you’ll also see its unusual hanging houses, which seem to grow organically from the cliff. Incidentally, Frías is officially classified as a city, despite having only around 300 inhabitants. The title was granted in the 15th century by King John II of Castile.It is located around 90 minutes away from cities like Burgos and Bilbao.Some more villages in Burgos worth visiting: Poza de la Sal, Santo Domingo de Silos, Caleruega…

The river Ebro in Frías, Burgos

Calatañazor (Soria, Castilla y León)

Soria is one of the least densely populated territories in Europe, so this village of 51 inhabitants (less than half an hour from the city of Soria) gives you a rare chance to truly connect to nature and to the local people.When you arrive, the first thing you’ll notice is the landscape, the gorge of the river Milanos, and probably some griffon vultures on the horizon. Here, there are oak wood houses with conical chimneys like something in a fairy tale, cobbled streets, a Romanesque church, a few shops selling traditional foods like torreznos (pork rinds), and a few restaurants in original settings, such as a former dovecote… And its most prized gem, the 14th century castle and keep. The scenery from here is stunning, especially at sunset.Very near the village is the holm oak forest of Calatañazor, with trees up to 14 metres tall. And just a 10-minute drive away, the natural monument of La Fuentona is a mysterious lake of crystal-clear water.

View of Calatañazor, Soria

Maybe all these charms are what led Orson Welles to film “Chimes at Midnight” here.Some more villages in Soria worth visiting:Medinaceli, Yanguas, Monteagudo de las Vicarías, Vinuesa…

Becerril de Campos (Palencia, Castilla y León)

Just 15 minutes from the city of Palencia, it’s delightful to stroll around its streets and let your imagination fly to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. That was the town’s high point, although its origins are older. One of the prettiest churches is the church-museum of Santa María, with a 13-panel altarpiece by Berruguete and a 15th-century coffered ceiling in a style reminiscent of Mudéjar art. Becerril de Campos is also the “village of the stars”. Why? Because the remains of the former church of San Pedro were used to create the world’s first Starlight Astronomy Monument. When this church was restored, they installed a Foucault’s pendulum (which shows the rotation of the earth), a sundial, and a starry ceiling vault for observing the constellations. Concerts and astrotourism events are sometimes held in the church.Some more villages in Palencia worth visiting:Ampudia, Aguilar de Campoo, Carrión de los Condes, Frómista, Dueñas...

Church in Becerril de Campos, Palencia

Peñalba de Santiago, León

Time seems to stand still in this beautiful village. In an area known as the Valley of Silence, it is surrounded by lush forests, rivers and waterfalls in an unspoilt landscape. It can be explored in a pleasant walk through its well-tended streets of traditional stone houses with slate roofs. In winter the village looks like a Christmas card under a blanket of snow, dominated by the 10th century Mozarabe style church of Santiago.The surrounding area is perfect for nature walks. You can spend the day hiking in the Valle del Silencio or climbing the Montes Aquilianos, or even walk to some of the nearby villages, such as Espinoso de Compludo, San Cristóbal de Valdueza, Riego de Ambrós, and San Esteban de Valdueza.Some more villages in León worth visiting: Castrillo de Polvazares, Hospital de Órbigo, Molinaseca, Balboa, Oseja de Sajambre…

Peñalba de Santiago, León
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