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The prettiest villages in Spain (Part 2)

Thirteen new towns across the country are joining a growing list of small municipalities with a quality seal earned through their well-preserved architecture, natural beauty and fine local gastronomy

  • This tiny town of 140 inhabitants in the valley of Cidacos, in Soria’s highlands, joins the Association of Spain’s Prettiest Villages in 2017. Currently, the association represents 44 towns of fewer than 15,000 residents , but the 13 new candidates that have been admitted to this exclusive rural group push the number up to 57 this year. Dating back to pre-Roman times, Yanguas was a feudal village until the 19th century and besides its cobbled streets and drover traditions, there are architectural delights such as the Romanesque tower of San Miguel, which dates back to 1146 and shows influences from Lombardy, the castle and the 15th-century Gothic church of San Lorenzo.
    1Yanguas (Soria) This tiny town of 140 inhabitants in the valley of Cidacos, in Soria’s highlands, joins the Association of Spain’s Prettiest Villages in 2017. Currently, the association represents 44 towns of fewer than 15,000 residents , but the 13 new candidates that have been admitted to this exclusive rural group push the number up to 57 this year. Dating back to pre-Roman times, Yanguas was a feudal village until the 19th century and besides its cobbled streets and drover traditions, there are architectural delights such as the Romanesque tower of San Miguel, which dates back to 1146 and shows influences from Lombardy, the castle and the 15th-century Gothic church of San Lorenzo. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • On the Grazalema mountain range’s white village route, this charming enclave dazzles in the glare of the southern sun, its white façades contrasting with the naturally green landscape around it. Curiously, this is the wettest area of Spain, which would explain why it boasts one of the country’s biggest forests of ‘pinsapo’ (Spanish fir), which has all but disappeared in the rest of Western Europe. A town of 2,165 inhabitants, Grazalema has been part of a Biosphere Reserve since 1977, making it a hiker’s paradise.
    2Grazalema (Cádiz) On the Grazalema mountain range’s white village route, this charming enclave dazzles in the glare of the southern sun, its white façades contrasting with the naturally green landscape around it. Curiously, this is the wettest area of Spain, which would explain why it boasts one of the country’s biggest forests of ‘pinsapo’ (Spanish fir), which has all but disappeared in the rest of Western Europe. A town of 2,165 inhabitants, Grazalema has been part of a Biosphere Reserve since 1977, making it a hiker’s paradise. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • This town of 5,500 residents in Campo de Montiel, in the region of Castilla–La Mancha, was declared a site of artistic and historical significance in 2004 thanks, among other things, to its 17th-century Plaza Mayor – main square – and Santiago Hospital. But apart from the architecture, it’s fun just to wander along the medieval street of General Pérez Ballesteros or the upbeat Calle Cervantes (above). Villanueva de los Infantes is one of the corners of La Mancha that may have been the subject of Cervantes’ famous opening line in ‘Don Quixote’: “A village in La Mancha whose name I do not wish to recall...”
    3Villanueva de los Infantes (Ciudad Real) This town of 5,500 residents in Campo de Montiel, in the region of Castilla–La Mancha, was declared a site of artistic and historical significance in 2004 thanks, among other things, to its 17th-century Plaza Mayor – main square – and Santiago Hospital. But apart from the architecture, it’s fun just to wander along the medieval street of General Pérez Ballesteros or the upbeat Calle Cervantes (above). Villanueva de los Infantes is one of the corners of La Mancha that may have been the subject of Cervantes’ famous opening line in ‘Don Quixote’: “A village in La Mancha whose name I do not wish to recall...”
  • The strict building code of this village of 700 people tucked away in the Tramontana mountains, in the Valley of Sóller, goes a long way toward explaining the excellent state of conservation of its stone houses. Cobbled streets wind up through orange and lemon groves shouldered by the imposing rocky heights of Els Cornadors.
    4Fornalutx (Mallorca) The strict building code of this village of 700 people tucked away in the Tramontana mountains, in the Valley of Sóller, goes a long way toward explaining the excellent state of conservation of its stone houses. Cobbled streets wind up through orange and lemon groves shouldered by the imposing rocky heights of Els Cornadors. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • The cobbled streets of this rugged medieval hamlet, 50 kilometers from Pamplona in the Olite district, lead up to the Santa Maria church–fortress that was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. Once you have made it up, you can enjoy panoramic views that stretch from the foothills of the Pyrenees and the plains of Ribera del Ebro to the mountain of Moncayo to the south. It is also worth just strolling through its labyrinthine streets, which are home to 200 people, as well as sampling the local delicacy, ‘migas de pastor’ (or shepherd’s breadcrumbs).
    5Ujué (Navarre) The cobbled streets of this rugged medieval hamlet, 50 kilometers from Pamplona in the Olite district, lead up to the Santa Maria church–fortress that was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. Once you have made it up, you can enjoy panoramic views that stretch from the foothills of the Pyrenees and the plains of Ribera del Ebro to the mountain of Moncayo to the south. It is also worth just strolling through its labyrinthine streets, which are home to 200 people, as well as sampling the local delicacy, ‘migas de pastor’ (or shepherd’s breadcrumbs). AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • Puebla de Sanabria is in the north west of Zamora province, close to Galicia, Portugal and León and along the pilgrim’s route known as the Camino de Santiago. Although parts of the town center have been tinkered with, you can find plenty of old-world charm in the center, where the 1,523 inhabitants drape their wooden balconies with flowers. Sightseeing gems include the round and impressively solid castle of the Counts of Benavente, built between the 15th and 17th centuries and, in the main square, the church of Santa Maria del Azogue (12th to 18th centuries) and the town hall.
    6Puebla de Sanabria (Zamora) Puebla de Sanabria is in the north west of Zamora province, close to Galicia, Portugal and León and along the pilgrim’s route known as the Camino de Santiago. Although parts of the town center have been tinkered with, you can find plenty of old-world charm in the center, where the 1,523 inhabitants drape their wooden balconies with flowers. Sightseeing gems include the round and impressively solid castle of the Counts of Benavente, built between the 15th and 17th centuries and, in the main square, the church of Santa Maria del Azogue (12th to 18th centuries) and the town hall. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • The main square (above) is the best place to start a sightseeing tour of this charming town of 5,447 inhabitants, some 44 kilometers southeast of Madrid. Recognized as one of the most beautiful squares in Spain, it is by no means all the town has to offer. There is also the 14th-century Torre del Reloj – or clock tower – which is the only vestige of the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church, the 15th-century Castillo de los Condes – Castle of the Counts – which is fairly well preserved despite being ravaged by fires and wars, and the San Agustín Monastery, whose living quarters have been converted into an impressive Parador, or state-run luxury hotel.
    7Chinchón (Madrid) The main square (above) is the best place to start a sightseeing tour of this charming town of 5,447 inhabitants, some 44 kilometers southeast of Madrid. Recognized as one of the most beautiful squares in Spain, it is by no means all the town has to offer. There is also the 14th-century Torre del Reloj – or clock tower – which is the only vestige of the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church, the 15th-century Castillo de los Condes – Castle of the Counts – which is fairly well preserved despite being ravaged by fires and wars, and the San Agustín Monastery, whose living quarters have been converted into an impressive Parador, or state-run luxury hotel. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • Located in the Sierra de Francia, the historical center of this town of 470 inhabitants transports you into the past and has been officially declared a Cultural Asset. Walking around its well-preserved 12th-century city walls that still have their four gates intact, and seeing the stone houses with their wooden balconies around the Arms Square as well as the 14th-century castle, it is easy to see why.
    8Miranda del Castañar (Salamanca) Located in the Sierra de Francia, the historical center of this town of 470 inhabitants transports you into the past and has been officially declared a Cultural Asset. Walking around its well-preserved 12th-century city walls that still have their four gates intact, and seeing the stone houses with their wooden balconies around the Arms Square as well as the 14th-century castle, it is easy to see why. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • Nestled among acres of vineyards, the castle–palace of Sajazarra, built of hewn stone in the 15th century, is the main attraction of this medieval-looking village of 140 inhabitants, which still boasts relics from the 11th century. Although the inside of the fortress is closed to visitors, it’s worth a look from the outside as one of the best preserved and most beautiful of its kind in La Rioja.
    9Sajazarra (La Rioja) Nestled among acres of vineyards, the castle–palace of Sajazarra, built of hewn stone in the 15th century, is the main attraction of this medieval-looking village of 140 inhabitants, which still boasts relics from the 11th century. Although the inside of the fortress is closed to visitors, it’s worth a look from the outside as one of the best preserved and most beautiful of its kind in La Rioja. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • This hamlet of 358 inhabitants in Guadalajara owes its fame to the Archpriest of Hita, otherwise known as poet Juan Ruiz, whose 14th-century Libro del Buen Amor – the Book of Good Love – is considered a classic of Spanish medieval literature due to its ribald tone and treatment of the amorous affairs of Don Melón de la Huerta, Ruiz’s alter ego. The haphazard architectural styles at the town’s center are more than made up for by the medieval wall, which was built by Iñigo López de Mendoza, the Marquis of Santillana, in 1441. The town also features the arch of Santa Maria and underground cellars that were once the property of Jewish families until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. The Saint John the Baptist church, with its Gothic and Mudejar design, dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
    10Hita (Guadalajara) This hamlet of 358 inhabitants in Guadalajara owes its fame to the Archpriest of Hita, otherwise known as poet Juan Ruiz, whose 14th-century Libro del Buen Amor – the Book of Good Love – is considered a classic of Spanish medieval literature due to its ribald tone and treatment of the amorous affairs of Don Melón de la Huerta, Ruiz’s alter ego. The haphazard architectural styles at the town’s center are more than made up for by the medieval wall, which was built by Iñigo López de Mendoza, the Marquis of Santillana, in 1441. The town also features the arch of Santa Maria and underground cellars that were once the property of Jewish families until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. The Saint John the Baptist church, with its Gothic and Mudejar design, dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • Lying on the banks of the Arlanza River, Covarrubias has the only pre-11th century Castilian fortress in Spain – the Torreón de Fernán González, which was built in the Mozarabic style in the 10th century. Lately, there has been a surge of tourism to this community of 600 inhabitants, with visitors drawn by the tomb of Princess Christina of Norway in the cloister of the Church of San Cosme and San Damián. The daughter of King Haakon IV, Christina married Prince Felipe, the brother of Alfonso X the Wise in 1258 in Valladolid and was buried in Covarrubias following her death four years later. Legend has it that whoever touches the bell next to the tomb will find love. The Archivo del Adelantado de Castilla is also worth a look as are the numerous medieval-style dwellings that line the streets.
    11Covarrubias (Burgos) Lying on the banks of the Arlanza River, Covarrubias has the only pre-11th century Castilian fortress in Spain – the Torreón de Fernán González, which was built in the Mozarabic style in the 10th century. Lately, there has been a surge of tourism to this community of 600 inhabitants, with visitors drawn by the tomb of Princess Christina of Norway in the cloister of the Church of San Cosme and San Damián. The daughter of King Haakon IV, Christina married Prince Felipe, the brother of Alfonso X the Wise in 1258 in Valladolid and was buried in Covarrubias following her death four years later. Legend has it that whoever touches the bell next to the tomb will find love. The Archivo del Adelantado de Castilla is also worth a look as are the numerous medieval-style dwellings that line the streets. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • High in the Alpujarras, in the mountains of Granada, and with a population of just 496, Capileira is typical of this region: white houses and a maze of slate streets, covered passageways and flat roofs, complete with capped chimneys. The Arabic influence is everywhere since this was the last stronghold of the Moors before they were finally expelled from Spain in 1492.
    12Capileira (Granada) High in the Alpujarras, in the mountains of Granada, and with a population of just 496, Capileira is typical of this region: white houses and a maze of slate streets, covered passageways and flat roofs, complete with capped chimneys. The Arabic influence is everywhere since this was the last stronghold of the Moors before they were finally expelled from Spain in 1492. AGEFOTOSTOCK
  • This town’s historic architecture has won it a place on the Association of Spain’s Prettiest Villages list. Located in the Ribera de Duero region, with a population of 500, its gems include the Torre de los Guzmanes and the 12th-century Romanesque church of Saint Sebastian. There is also the Santo Domingo monastery whose original buildings, including a chapel in honor of the canonized Domingo de Guzmán, date back to 1223. Finally, there is the more modern Dominican Convent built in the 1950s.
    13Caleruega (Burgos) This town’s historic architecture has won it a place on the Association of Spain’s Prettiest Villages list. Located in the Ribera de Duero region, with a population of 500, its gems include the Torre de los Guzmanes and the 12th-century Romanesque church of Saint Sebastian. There is also the Santo Domingo monastery whose original buildings, including a chapel in honor of the canonized Domingo de Guzmán, date back to 1223. Finally, there is the more modern Dominican Convent built in the 1950s.