You like castles? Spain is overloaded. A result of its tumultuous history. According to the (excellent) www.castillosnet.org website, there are 3,168 castles (and fortified places), if you want to start ticking them off a list. www.spaincastles.es is an alternative 'castles of Spain' site for anyone who doesn't speak the lingo. And even more important than quantity, lots of Spanish castles are the stuff of primary school projects: towers, turrets, moats... You couldn't ask for better!
We took a road-trip through Castilla y León a couple of summers ago and dropped in on two (impressive) examples. Coca Castle (15th century), just north of Segovia, looked like a giant, pink, birthday cake as we apporached it. In wonderfully typical Spanish style, the walk along the top of the walls would never have passed British health and safety regulations, but the view of the courtyard and the surrounding countryside was well worth the risk.
|Be careful where you step as you glance down at the courtyard from the walls...|
|The walls of Coca Castle.|
Not far away is Cuellar Castle (16th century), where we were fortunate enough to arrive in time to sign up for one of their visitas teatralizadas (theatrical visits). This turned out be be quite a jolly romp with plenty of opportunities for audience participation as we were led through various rooms (one hosting a 'son et lumiere' display). Luckily, the actors ignored us when choosing victims for the 'participation' bits, possibly taking their cue from the fact that we laughed slightly after all the Spanish spectators. www.aytocuellar.es .
There's no doubt, if castles are what you're after, then Spain should be high on your list.
And if you've got the cash to splash, the Spanish Paradores organisation has a number of castles included in its list of hotels. Imagine that! You could sleep in a genuine castle. Even if the price for a room was out of your budget, you could at least pop in for a coffee and a slice of cake (in the dungeon!) Check out the Ruta de Castillos at www.parador.es which features three splendid castles in Castilla y León, Extremadura and Castilla la Mancha.
|In summer you'll be treated to fields of sunflowers in this region...|
|...all preparing the millions of pipas consumed by the Spanish.|
|You'll also have little trouble spotting storks, nesting on high buildings.|
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