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Castilla y León/Spain

Introducing Castilla y León

Castilla y León is Spain without the stereotypes. While the package tourists head for the beach, discerning travellers looking for a window on the Spanish soul make for Castilla y León.

Some of Spain’s most beautiful cities are here, rising up from the lonely plains of the country’s central plateau with dazzling architecture that provides the backdrop to night-time carousing of the highest order. Salamanca is a glorious temple to Plateresque and Renaissance sandstone, but it does anything but live in the past thanks to its vibrant student population who take the nights by storm. Segovia is similarly alive, its buzzing streets watched over by an astonishing Roman aqueduct and a fairy-tale castle that seems to belong (and once did) in Disneyland. Elsewhere, the cathedrals of León and Burgos are among Europe’s most impressive, while the multiturreted walls of Ávila are everything you dreamed they would be.

But the story of Castilla y León is just as accurately told through the quiet back roads, isolated villages and captivating castles that appear in the most unlikely places and which the tourist hordes have yet to discover. From the scenic Sierra de Francia in the southwest to Covarrubias, Calatañazor and Medinaceli in the east, this is the hidden Spain that most foreign travellers never dreamed still existed.

Food is another central element of the Castilian charm. Here, cured meats have been perfected to an art form and roasted cordero (lamb) or cochinillo (suckling pig) provide central Spain’s hearty riposte to the dominance of paella.