Zamora – Ciudad del Románico

After leaving Plasencia, it was cold and wet when we arrived in Zamora but the welcome from the staff in the Parador was warm. Because of the weather, they lent us an umbrella so that we could make a tour of the town once we had checked into our room.

The hotel is a palace built on the ruins of an Arab fortress and still feels very medieval from the armour in the corridors to the tapestries, suits of armour, and heraldic banners.

The weather brightened, but still carrying the brolly, we took a stroll. Zamora is known as the Ciudad del Románico, and the historic centre is a beautiful, peaceful place. A pleasant way to explore the city’s wealth of cultural and historical heritage is with a walk. There are churches, palaces, old houses, convents, mediaeval streets all waiting to be explored.

For centuries, El Puente de Piedra was the only way to cross the river. It has recently been pedestrianised so we crossed the bridge to admire the city and its walls from the other side of the Douro.

We then headed to Calle Balborráz. This street begins at the Plaza Mayor and is one of Zamora’s oldest and dates from the 10th century when a battle took place on the site. The name comes from the Arabic “bab al ras,” meaning “head gate.” The street connects the Jewish quarter, the Douro River and the centre of Zamora. It used to be the commercial hub, filled with traders and craftsmen doing leatherwork and ceramics.

Spain is famous for its markets. Zamora’s Mercado de Abastos is a relatively modern affair, constructed in 1902, its frontage is beautiful. Inside you’ll find all sorts of vendors selling all sorts of products from glistening piles of fresh fish, wheels of sheeps’ cheeses and mountains of fruit and vegetables, picked that morning.

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The cathedral, constructed between 1151 and 1174, is home to the Puerta del Obispo (Bishop’s Door). The castle is right next to the cathedral, you can still see the surrounding moat, the courtyard and the main tower. If you are lucky, you may see a stork perched on its towers if you aren’t so lucky you will probably see a nest.

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The oldest church in Zamora is San Cipriano, construction started at the end of the 11th century, but with the cleaning of the stonework it looks almost new.

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Suddenly it started to rain and strikes of lightning burst across the valley, so we returned to the hotel for dinner. The menu featured local dishes and we opted for Arroz a la Zamorana a kind of paella made with pork and chorizo.

You can spend quite a while getting lost in Zamora’s old town, as the Convent of las Duenas, and the churches of Espiritu Santo, Magdalena and La Encarnación hospital are worth a visit, but if time allows, you should see the Church of San Pedro y San Ildefonso. It is 22km from town and was founded in the 7th century during the reign of egica a Visigoth king and before the Muslim conquest of the Peninsula. It was originally on the banks of the Elsa River but the construction of a dam threatened its existence and it was moved stone by stone to its current location.

So alphabetically that is the Paradores done, I can´t find photos of the ones we stayed at in Segovia, Leon or Santiago de Compostela they may still be on an old laptop perhaps it is a sign that Jim and I need to retrace our steps, and that wouldn´t be such a bad thing. 🙂

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