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Trip List by Aguilas

Spanish Paradors - Affordable Luxury

Nov 23, 2006  
4.5 of 5 stars based on 12 votes

Have recently returned from a 10-day trip touring the Paradors in Spain. We last did this almost 20 years ago and decided to go back and revisit several of the Paradors on our original trip plus a couple of new ones.

For those who dont know what a Spanish Paradors is, they are hotels set up by the State to provide quality tourism in luxurious accommodation in Castles, Palaces, Convents, Monasteries and other historic buildings. There are also modern hotels, in areas of outstanding beauty where guests receive a high standard of service at prices, which are very reasonable.

  • Category: Recent trip
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Shopping, Active/Outdoors, Never been before, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Singles, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Tourists
  • Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Touring the Paradors around Madrid

    Have recently returned from a 10-day trip touring the Paradors in Spain. We last did this almost 20 years ago and decided to go back and revisit several of the Paradors on our original trip plus a couple of new ones.

    For those who dont know what a Spanish Paradors is, they are hotels set up by the State to provide quality tourism in luxurious accommodation in Castles, Palaces, Convents, Monasteries and other historic buildings. There are also modern hotels, in areas of outstanding beauty where guests receive a high standard of service at prices, which are very reasonable.

  • 2. Parador at Almagro - 16th Century Franciscan Convent

    The Convent of San Francisco was built in 1596. It is located in an historic, attractive area of the town.

    The interior of the Parador has a stylish, tranquil atmosphere. There are beautiful galleries, which feature wood and latticework and numerous inner courtyards and a wonderful garden

    The bedrooms, originally the monastic cells, really reflect peace and tranquillity. There is also a swimming pool. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes including a selection of local and regional specialities, however some of these did sound a bit grim. So we went walkabout to the Plaza Mayor (the main town square) and found a lovely little bar where we ate with the locals.

    For sight seeing you can visit the Corral de Comedias (the old Theatre), the Convent of Calatrava, the Palace of Fugger, the Old University, Plaza Mayor, and the Cathedral.

  • 3. Parador at Guadalupe - 15th Century Hospital

    Since last visiting Guadalupe the town has grown from a few houses surrounding the main square to a popular tourist destination. You can now wander through the twisting, narrow streets, some no more than alleyways where the buildings are so close together.

    The Parador was once the Hospital of St. John the Baptist a historical 15th century building. I believe that Christopher Columbus stopped here to sign his contract and collect the money from Queen Isabel of Spain for his voyage to the New World. It is because of the conquistadors, the names of Extremaduran villages are spread through America.

    The rooms are very comfortable and there is a unique orchard forming the garden, and a secluded swimming pool. The public rooms have ancient maps, engravings and tile plaques. There are also low copper braziers once used to warm the pilgrims who came to worship at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

    The simple but delicious local cooking is served in many of the tiny restaurants and cafes scattered around the main square.

    The 14th Monastery is the most impressive attraction of the town, which has been declared a National and Artistic Monument. King Alfonso XI founded it after the Battle of Salado. As we live in Tenerife it seemed very strange to see a notice in the church advertising trips for the local parishioners to Tenerife. (Excellent value we thought)

  • 4. Parador at Plasencia - 15th Century Convent

    Travelling on to Plasencia we reached the Parador, it was the former Convent of Santo Domingo, founded in the middle of the 15th Century, built into the town walls. Getting there meant having to follow the signs carefully through the town to the very heart of the historical quarter of Plasencia, where the Parador is located.

    As with all restaurants in the Paradors, serving the local dishes of the region takes top priority. Therefore the theme here was the food from Estamadura so the regional dishes are very much meats and veg.

    In Plasencia visit the cathedral, palaces, walls, gates and bridges.

    The historic districts of Caceres and Trujillo are also impressive and not to be missed.

  • 5. Parador at Salamanca - Modern, with superb city views

    This modern Parador is located on the left bank of the river Tormes, on a hill opposite the city centre. The views are even more beautiful at night, when the cathedral and the old town are lit up.

    The interior of the Parador is decorated with marble and feels very elegant. The rooms have large windows that give magnificent views of the City. It also has a swimming pool, tennis courts, sauna, Turkish bath, gymnasium and children's playground.

    Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. It is well preserved, with turreted palaces, faded convents, churches, and colleges that have attracted scholars from all over Europe. In its day, Salamanca was ranked with Oxford, and still attracts students from all over the world, especially America.

    We walked down from the Parador across the Roman Bridge and through the old town to the Plaza Mayor, which has 88 arches. This is a great place for people watching. Stop in a cafe and order leche helada, a vanilla and almond concoction that's very refreshing

    The best way to explore Salamanca is on foot. Nearly all the attractions are within walking distance of the Plaza Mayor.

    On the way to the main square you see the University, the new cathedral where one of the oldest colleges is located, and the charming Casa de las Conchas (House of shells). The restored 1483 house is noted for its facade of 400 scallop shells.

    We stayed in Salamanca for a couple of days and one evening ate in a little restaurant just outside the gates to the Parador. The meal was first class, we had a selection of meats, chicken, veal, lamb, steak and local sausages plus vegetables and drinks and it was less than 10 Euro each. We were the only people in the place so wondered how long it would remain open with such excellent food at the price.

  • 6. Parador at Zamora - 15th Century Renaissance Palace

    It was cold and wet when we arrived in Zamora but the welcome from the staff in the Parador was very warm. The hotel is a palace built on the ruins of an Arab fortress and the whole place is very medieval from the armour in the corridors to the attractive four-poster beds, tapestries, suits of armour, and heraldic banners and the Renaissance style continues in its courtyard, corridors and coats of arms.

    Outside, there is an attractive garden with a swimming pool but because of the weather we decided against using it, instead, the staff lent us an umbrella so that we could make a tour of the town once we had checked into our room.

    We had an early dinner in the dining room the menu features local dishes as well as international cooking. Worth tasting "Presas de ternera, stuffed roast veal and the locally produced wine "Sangue de Toro". which comes from Toro and is known as 'bull's blood'.

    The weather brightened so we took an evening stroll through the town. You can explore Zamora in about 4 hours. Stroll along the main square, Plaza Canovas; cross the arched Romanesque bridge from the 1300s; and take in at least some of the churches for which the town is known, many dating from the 12th century.

    Also worth a visit are the Convent of las Duenas, and the churches of Espiritu Santo, Magdalena and San Cipriano.