Castilla y Leon Attractions
Castilla y León, encompassing the former kingdoms of León and Castilla la Vieja, lies mainly to the north-west of Madrid. Among the major cities in this region are Salamanca, León, Segovia, and Burgos.
In the center of this nature park, which lies at heights of between 800m/2,625ft and 2,100m/6,900ft, is the Lago de Sanabria. Among the trees that grow here are Turkey oaks, chestnuts and holly. The fauna includes roe deer and partridges, and the numerous mountain streams are well stocked with trout.
The little town of Medina del Campo, on the Río Zapardiel, is an important rail and road junction on the N VI, the main road from Madrid to La Coruña. Until the 16th century Medina del Campo was one of Europe's most important commercial towns, and the Catholic Monarchs made it a royal residence. Isabella the Catholic died in the town in 1504.
Castillo de la Mota
Above the town is the 15th century Castillo de la Mota, one of the finest castles in Spain. Brick-built, it was erected by Fernando Carreño in 1440. It was a favorite residence of Isabella the Catholic, who died in the castle. Her daughter Joan the Mad also frequently stayed here. Cesare Borgia (César Borja) was imprisoned in the keep from 1504 to 1506.
Address: Avda Castillo de la Mota, Spain
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Epiphany (3 Kings' Day ) - Christian (Jan 6), Castile and Leon Day - Spain (Apr 23), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), National Day - Spain (Oct 12), All Saints' Day - Christian (Nov 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Constitution Day - Spain (Dec 6), Good Friday - Christian, Maundy (Holy) Thursday - Christian, Easter - Christian
The collegiate church of San Antolín (1503) has a large and impressive retablo which was the work of many artists, including Juan Rodríguez and Cornelis de Holanda. Capilla de los Quiñones has a relief by Juan de Juni.
The Medina del Campo's Hospital was built by Simón Ruiz, a 16th century merchant and banker, and visitors can still see the wards. The church has a very fine retablo by Juan de Ávila, with sculpture by Pedro de la Cuadra.
Palacio de las Dueñas
The Palacio de las Dueñas in Calle Santa Teresa is a magnificent mansion decked with coats of arms, with a Renaissance gallery and a beautiful inner courtyard.
The ancient little town of Aguilar de Campóo, on the Río Pisuerga, is believed to have been the Roman settlement of Vellica. It flourished particularly between the 13th and 15th centuries, when the town and surrounding area formed a marquisate.
Town Walls and Castle
Aguilar de Campóo has preserved six gates in the old town walls, including the 14th century Puerta de Reinosa, with a Hebrew inscription which is all that remains of the old Jewish quarter. The 12th century castle which looms over the town is now in ruins.
There are a number of old palaces and mansions in Aguilar de Campóo ranging in date from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period.
The Early Gothic church of San Miguel, in the Plaza de España, contains many tombs of the 12th-16th centuries. Particularly fine are the tombs of the Conde de Aguilar and his wife and Archpriest García González. Other churches worth seeing are Santa Cecia (Romanesque) and Santa Clara (Gothic).
Béjar, an important center of cloth manufacture, is attractively situated on a hill above a valley in the western foothills of the Sierra de Gredos. Its agreeable climate makes it a popular summer resort.
The brick-built church of Santa María, built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 16th, has a fine sculpture of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias by Luis Salvador Carmona.
Museo Mateo Hernández
The Museo Mateo Hernández, in the church of San Gil, has sculpture and pictures of the Flemish and Spanish schools, enamels, porcelain, ivories and miniatures.
Address: Plaza Martín Mateos, Spain
Santuario del Castañar
Above Béjar is the Santuario del Castañar (alt. 1,050m/3,445ft), from which there are fine views. The chapel, built in the 17th and 18th centuries, with a Baroque interior, is situated on the spot where the Virgin is said to have appeared to some monks in 1447. Since then the Virgen del Castañar, of whom there is a much venerated 15th century image in the chapel, has been the patroness of Béjar.