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Detail of cut of Guijuelo Iberian ham

A journey to enjoy Guijuelo Iberian ham

Salamanca

If you enjoy Iberian ham, if you'd like to learn about how it is traditionally produced or if you're interested in getting to know where the pigs are raised, this route offers you the opportunity to do so in the south-east of Salamanca (Castile and Leon). This is where Guijuelo Iberian ham is produced: one of the four Spanish Iberian hams with a Protected Designation of Origin and the first to receive this award. And if you haven't yet tried Iberian ham, or you're not sure whether you like it, this route is the solution.Guijuelo Iberian ham is primarily produced between the towns of Guijuelo, Béjar and Candelario. A route of just over 30 kilometres through the countryside of the Béjar mountain range, featuring forests of cork oak and holm oak. The journey is a perfect day out, and its proximity to the cities of Salamanca (around one hour by car) and Madrid (some two and a half hours by car) makes it easy for visitors to these cities to enjoy it.

The route: Guijuelo – Béjar – Candelario

There are over 150 companies producing ham or cured meats and sausages in the area, some of which offer visits to their installations and activities such as tastings or trips to the pastures where the pigs are raised. Guijuelo is home to the Cold Meats Industry Museum, a great place to learn much more about the ham-producing tradition in the area. The Fortified Tower (the apse of an old church situated on the outskirts of the town) and the Plaza Mayor square (where a popular market is held every Saturday) are two of its main attractions. February is a great month to go to Guijuelo because the Traditional Slaughter Sessions are celebrated these weekends: the regional festival based around the pig. 

Cold Meats Industry Museum in Guijuelo, Salamanca, Castile and Leon

In addition to being a fantastic starting point for a day in the countryside or a hiking trip in the Béjar mountain range, Béjar itself is a small monumental town, highlights of which include the Ducal Palace, the large El Bosque park and its walls. In June, the Moss Men Procession takes place, a unique parade to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.The route can end in Candelario, one of the most beautiful villages in Castile and Leon. Its steep streets are well worth exploring on foot: the popular architecture, its well cared-for labyrinth of narrow streets and its peaceful atmosphere make a visit here something special. The Museo de la Casa Chacinera [Cold Meats House Museum] can also be found here, which is dedicated to the slaughter.

Guijuelo Iberian ham: what is it like and why

Guijuelo Iberian ham is famous for being smooth and very creamy. The climate in the area, with cold winds and short summers, means that the ham can be cured naturally and does not require as much salt. This makes the flavour of Guijuelo Iberian ham sweeter than that of other hams. Moreover, the pigs are fed on a diet of acorns and this provides the ham with a high proportion of oleic acid and other healthy fats.

Free-range Iberian pigs in Guijuelo, Salamanca, Castile and Leon