Castile–Leon and Castile–La Mancha

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  • 1. Acueducto Romano

    Ruins

    Segovia's Roman aqueduct is one of the greatest surviving examples of Roman engineering and the city's main sight. Stretching from the walls...

    Segovia's Roman aqueduct is one of the greatest surviving examples of Roman engineering and the city's main sight. Stretching from the walls of the old town to the lower slopes of the Sierra de Guadarrama, it's about 2,952 feet long and rises in two tiers to a height of 115 feet. The raised section of stonework in the center originally carried an inscription, of which only the holes for the bronze letters remain. Neither mortar nor clamps hold the massive granite blocks together, but miraculously, the aqueduct has stood since the end of the 1st century AD.

    Pl. del Azoguejo, Segovia, Castille and León, 40001, Spain
  • 2. Alcázar

    It's believed that the Walt Disney logo is modeled after the silhouette of this turreted castle. Possibly dating to Roman times, the Alcázar was expanded...

    It's believed that the Walt Disney logo is modeled after the silhouette of this turreted castle. Possibly dating to Roman times, the Alcázar was expanded in the 14th century, remodeled in the 15th, altered again toward the end of the 16th, and completely reconstructed after being gutted by a fire in 1862, when it was used as an artillery school. The exterior, especially when seen below from the Ruta Panorámica, is awe-inspiring, as are the superb views from the ramparts. Inside, you can enter the throne room, chapel, and bedroom used by Ferdinand and Isabella as well as a claustrophobia-inducing winding tower. The intricate woodwork on the ceiling is marvelous, and the first room you enter, lined with knights in shining armor, is a crowd pleaser, particularly for kids. There's also a small armory museum, included in the ticket price.

    Pl. de la Reina Victoria, Segovia, Castille and León, 40003, Spain
    92-146--0759

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9 for castle, tower, and museum
  • 3. Casas Colgadas

    As if Cuenca's famous Casas Colgadas, suspended impossibly over the cliffs below, were not eye-popping enough, they also house one of Spain's finest museums, the...

    As if Cuenca's famous Casas Colgadas, suspended impossibly over the cliffs below, were not eye-popping enough, they also house one of Spain's finest museums, the Museo de Arte Abstracto Español (Museum of Spanish Abstract Art)—not to be confused with the adjacent Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno. Projecting over the town's eastern precipice, these houses originally formed a 15th-century palace, which later served as a town hall before falling into disrepair in the 19th century. In 1927 the cantilevered balconies were rebuilt, and in 1966 the painter Fernando Zóbel created the world's first museum devoted exclusively to abstract art. The works he gathered—by such renowned names as Carlos Saura, Eduardo Chillida, Lucio Muñoz, and Antoni Tàpies—are primarily by exiled Spanish artists who grew up under Franco's regime. The museum has free smartphone audio guides that can be downloaded from the website.

    Calle de los Canónigos, Cuenca, Castille-La Mancha, 16001, Spain
    96-921--2983

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 4. Castillo

    Alarcón's fortress dates to the 8th century, and in the 14th century it came into the hands of the infante (child prince) Don Juan Manuel,...

    Alarcón's fortress dates to the 8th century, and in the 14th century it came into the hands of the infante (child prince) Don Juan Manuel, who wrote a collection of classic moral tales. Today the castle is one of Spain's finest paradores. You'll have to be a guest at the hotel to actually enter, but day-trippers can explore the grounds and extensive patio. If you're not driving, you can take a bus to Motilla and from there take a short taxi ride to the castle.

    Av. Amigos de los Castillos 3, Alarcón, Castille-La Mancha, 16214, Spain
    96-933--0315
  • 5. Catedral de Ávila

    The battlement apse of Ávila's cathedral forms the most impressive part of the city's walls. Entering the town gate to the right of the apse,...

    The battlement apse of Ávila's cathedral forms the most impressive part of the city's walls. Entering the town gate to the right of the apse, you can reach the sculpted north portal by turning left and walking a few steps. The west portal, flanked by 18th-century towers, is notable for the crude carvings of hairy male figures on each side. Known as "wild men," these figures appear in many Castilian palaces of this period. The Transitional Gothic structure, with its granite nave, is considered to be the first Gothic cathedral in Spain. Look for the early-16th-century marble sepulchre of Bishop Alonso de Madrigal. Known as El Tostado (the Toasted One) for his swarthy complexion, the bishop was a tiny man of enormous intellect. When on one occasion Pope Eugenius IV ordered him to stand—mistakenly thinking him to still be on his knees—the bishop pointed to the space between his eyebrows and hairline, and retorted, "A man's stature is to be measured from here to here!"

    Pl. de la Catedral, Ávila, Castille and León, 05001, Spain
    92-021--1641

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €7
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  • 6. Catedral de Burgos

    The cathedral contains such a wealth of art and other treasures that the local burghers lynched their civil governor in 1869 for trying to take...

    The cathedral contains such a wealth of art and other treasures that the local burghers lynched their civil governor in 1869 for trying to take an inventory of it, fearing that he was plotting to steal their riches. Just as opulent is the sculpted flamboyant Gothic facade. The cornerstone was laid in 1221, and the two 275-foot towers were completed in the 14th century, though the final chapel was not finished until 1731. There are 13 chapels, the most elaborate of which is the hexagonal Condestable Chapel. You'll find the tomb of El Cid (1026–99) and his wife, Ximena, under the transept. El Cid (Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar) was a feudal warlord revered for his victories over the Moors, though he fought for them as well; the medieval Song of My Cid transformed him into a Spanish national hero. At the other end of the cathedral, high above the West Door, is the Reloj de Papamoscas (Flycatcher Clock), named for the sculptured bird that opens its mouth as the hands mark each hour. The grilles around the choir have some of the finest wrought-iron work in central Spain, and the choir itself has 103 delicately carved walnut stalls, no two alike. The 13th-century stained-glass windows were destroyed in 1813, one of many cultural casualties of Napoléon's retreating troops. The excellent free audio guide has a kid-friendly option.

    Pl. de Santa María, Burgos, Castille and León, 09003, Spain
    94-720--4712

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9
  • 7. Catedral de León

    The pride of León is its soaring cathedral, begun in 1205. It is an outstanding example of Gothic architecture complete with gargoyles, flying buttresses, and...

    The pride of León is its soaring cathedral, begun in 1205. It is an outstanding example of Gothic architecture complete with gargoyles, flying buttresses, and pointed arches. Its 2,000 square yards of vivid stained-glass panels—second only, perhaps, to those in Chartres, France—depict biblical stories and Castilian landscapes. A glass door to the choir gives an unobstructed view of nave windows and the painted altarpiece, framed with gold leaf. The cathedral also contains the sculpted tomb of King Ordoño II, who moved the capital of Christian Spain to León. The museum's collection boasts giant medieval hymnals, textiles, sculptures, wood carvings, and paintings. Look for the carved-wood Mudejar archive, with a letter of the alphabet above each door—it's one of the world's oldest filing cabinets. Guided tours can be scheduled by phone.

    Pl. de Regla, León, Castille and León, 24003, Spain
    98-787--5770

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €7
  • 8. Catedral de Segovia

    Segovia's 16th-century cathedral was built to replace an earlier one destroyed during the revolt of the Comuneros against Carlos V. It's one of the country's...

    Segovia's 16th-century cathedral was built to replace an earlier one destroyed during the revolt of the Comuneros against Carlos V. It's one of the country's last great examples of the Gothic style. The designs were drawn up by the leading late-Gothicist Juan Gil de Hontañón and executed by his son Rodrigo, in whose work you can see a transition from the Gothic to the Renaissance style. The interior, illuminated by 16th-century Flemish windows, is light and uncluttered (save for the wooden neoclassical choir). Across from the entrance, on the southern transept, is a door opening into the late-Gothic cloister, the work of architect Juan Guas. Off the cloister, a small museum of religious art, installed partly in the first-floor chapter house, has a white-and-gold 17th-century ceiling, a late example of artesonado (a Mudejar technique using intricately joined wooden slats).

    Pl. Mayor, Segovia, Castille and León, 40003, Spain
    92-146--2205

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €3 (free Sun. Mass)
  • 9. Cathedral

    One of the most impressive structures in all of Spain, this is a must-see on any visit to the city. The elaborate structure sits on...

    One of the most impressive structures in all of Spain, this is a must-see on any visit to the city. The elaborate structure sits on the site of what was once Toledo's great mosque (of which only a column and the cistern remain). It owes its impressive Mozarabic chapel, with an elongated dome crowning the west facade, to El Greco's only son. The rest of the facade is mainly early 15th century. Immediately to your right is a beautifully carved plateresque doorway by Covarrubias, marking the entrance to the Treasury, which houses a small crucifixion scene by the Italian painter Cimabue and an extraordinarily intricate late-15th-century monstrance by Juan del Arfe. The ceiling is an excellent example of Mudejar (11th- to 16th-century Moorish-influenced) workmanship. From here, walk around to the ambulatory. In addition to Italianate frescoes by Juan de Borgoña and an exemplary baroque illusionism by Narciso Tomé known as the Transparente, you’ll find several El Grecos, including one version of El Espolio (Christ Being Stripped of His Raiment), the first recorded instance of the painter in Spain.

    Calle Cardenal Cisneros 1, Toledo, Castille-La Mancha, 45002, Spain
    92-522--2241

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €10
  • 10. Convento de Las Dueñas

    Founded in 1419, this convent hides a 16th-century cloister that is the most fantastically decorated in Salamanca, if not all of Spain. The capitals of...

    Founded in 1419, this convent hides a 16th-century cloister that is the most fantastically decorated in Salamanca, if not all of Spain. The capitals of its two superimposed Salmantine arcades are crowded with a baffling profusion of grotesques that can absorb you for hours. Don't forget to look down: the interlocking diamond pattern on the ground floor of the cloister is decorated with the knobby vertebrae of goats and sheep. It's an eerie yet perfect accompaniment to all the grinning, disfigured heads sprouting from the capitals looming above you. The museum has a fascinating exhibit on Spain's little-known slavery industry.  Seek out the traditional sweets made by the nuns.

    Pl. del Concilio de Trento, Salamanca, Castille and León, 37001, Spain
    92-321--5442

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €2
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  • 11. Convento de San Estéban

    The convent's monks, among the most enlightened teachers at the university in medieval times, introduced Christopher Columbus to Isabella (hence his statue in the nearby...

    The convent's monks, among the most enlightened teachers at the university in medieval times, introduced Christopher Columbus to Isabella (hence his statue in the nearby Plaza de Colón, back toward Calle de San Pablo). The complex was designed by one of the monks who lived here, Juan de Álava. The west facade, a thrilling plateresque masterwork in which sculpted figures and ornamentation are piled up to a height of more than 98 feet, is a gathering spot for tired tourists and picnicking locals, but the crown jewel of the structure is a glowing golden sandstone cloister with Gothic arcading punctuated by tall, spindly columns adorned with classical motifs. The church, unified and uncluttered but also dark and severe, allows the one note of color provided by the ornate and gilded high altar of 1692. An awe-inspiring baroque masterpiece by José Churriguera, it deserves five minutes of just sitting and staring. 

    Pl. Concilio de Trento 1, Salamanca, Castille and León, 37001, Spain
    92-321--5000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €4, Museum closed Mon.
  • 12. Ermita de San Frutos

    This 11th-century hermitage is in ruins, but its location, on a peninsula jutting out into a bend 100 meters above the Duratón River, is extraordinary....

    This 11th-century hermitage is in ruins, but its location, on a peninsula jutting out into a bend 100 meters above the Duratón River, is extraordinary. You'll need a car to get there, about 15 minutes' drive west of Sepúlveda. After parking, walk along the marked path—the surrounding area is a natural park and a protected nesting ground for rare vultures—and try to go at sunset, when the sun sets the monastery and river aglow. Inside the monastery, there's a small chapel and plaque describing the life of San Frutos, the patron saint of Segovia. An ancient pilgrimage route stretches 77 km (48 miles) from the monastery to Segovia's cathedral, and pilgrims still walk it each year. As an add-on to the trip, you can rent kayaks from NaturalTur to paddle the river ( www.naturaltur.com;  92/152--1727).

    Sepúlveda, Castille and León, 40331, Spain

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 13. Iglesia de San Ildefonso

    Sometimes called "Los Jesuitas," for the religious order that founded it, the Iglesia de San Ildefonso is named for Toledo's patron saint, a 7th-century bishop....

    Sometimes called "Los Jesuitas," for the religious order that founded it, the Iglesia de San Ildefonso is named for Toledo's patron saint, a 7th-century bishop. It was consecrated in 1718 after the baroque stone facade with twin Corinthian columns took 150 years to build. Its semispherical dome is one of the icons of Toledo's skyline. This impressive building's tower affords some of the best views over Toledo.

    Pl. Juan de Mariana 1, Toledo, Castille-La Mancha, 45002, Spain
    92-525--1507

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3
  • 14. Iglesia de Santo Tomé

    Not to be confused with the marzipan shop bearing the same name, this chapel topped with a Mudejar tower was built specially to house El...

    Not to be confused with the marzipan shop bearing the same name, this chapel topped with a Mudejar tower was built specially to house El Greco's most masterful painting, The Burial of Count Orgaz. Using vivid colors and splashes of light, it portrays the benefactor of the church being buried with the posthumous assistance of St. Augustine and St. Stephen, who have appeared at the funeral to thank the count for his donations to religious institutions named after the two saints. Though the count's burial took place in the 14th century, El Greco painted the onlookers in contemporary 16th-century costumes and included people he knew; the boy in the foreground is one of El Greco's sons, and the sixth figure on the left is said to be the artist himself. Santo Tomé is Toledo's most visited church besides the cathedral, so to avoid crowds, plan to visit as soon as the building opens.

    Pl. del Conde 4, Calle Santo Tomé, Toledo, Castille-La Mancha, 45002, Spain
    92-525--6098

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3
  • 15. La Catedral Vieja and La Catedral Nueva

    Nearest the river stands the Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral), built in the late 12th century and one of the most riveting examples of the Spanish...

    Nearest the river stands the Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral), built in the late 12th century and one of the most riveting examples of the Spanish Romanesque. Because the dome of the crossing tower has strange, plumelike ribbing, it's known as the Torre del Gallo (Rooster's Tower). The much larger Catedral Nueva (New Cathedral) went up between 1513 and 1526 under the late-Gothic architect Juan Gil de Hontañón. Controversially, a 1992 restoration added an astronaut carving to the facade as a wink to the modern era—see if you can spot it. Both cathedrals are part of the same complex, though they have different visiting hours, and you need to enter the New to get to the Old.

    Pl. de Anaya and Calle Cardenal Pla y Deniel, Salamanca, Castille and León, 37008, Spain
    92-321--7476

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6 (includes Catedral Nueva and Catedral Vieja)
  • 16. Las Médulas

    One of northern Spain's most impressive archaeological sites, this mountainous area of former Roman gold mines—located 24 km (15 miles) south of town—is a UNESCO...

    One of northern Spain's most impressive archaeological sites, this mountainous area of former Roman gold mines—located 24 km (15 miles) south of town—is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landscape is the result of an ancient mining technique in which myriad water tunnels were burrowed into a mountain, causing it to collapse. Miners would then sift through the rubble for gold. What's left at Las Médulas are half-collapsed mountains of golden clay with exposed tunnels peeking through lush green forest. Take in the best panorama from the Orellán viewpoint. There are hiking paths, a small archaeology exhibit, and a visitor center; the latter organizes 3-km (2-mile) walking tours—check schedules online, and call or email ahead to book ( medulas@ccbierzo.com). A parking lot was added in 2021; the price is €3 per vehicle.

    Carucedo, Castille and León, 24442, Spain
    98-742--0708

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, archaeology center €2, Orellán tunnel €3, guided walking tour €5
  • 17. Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes

    This convent church in western Toledo was erected by Ferdinand and Isabella to commemorate their victory at the Battle of Toro in 1476. (It was...

    This convent church in western Toledo was erected by Ferdinand and Isabella to commemorate their victory at the Battle of Toro in 1476. (It was also intended to be their burial place, but their wish changed after Granada was recaptured from the Moors in 1492, and their actual tomb is in that city's Capilla Real.) The breathtakingly intricate building is largely the work of architect Juan Guas, who considered it his masterpiece and asked to be buried there himself. In true plateresque fashion, the white interior is covered with inscriptions and heraldic motifs.

    Calle San Juan de los Reyes 2, Toledo, Castille-La Mancha, 45002, Spain
    92-522--3802

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €3
  • 18. Museo de la Evolución Humana

    This airy, modern natural history museum traces human evolution from primate to the present day. There are life-size replicas of our ancient ancestors, plus hands-on...

    This airy, modern natural history museum traces human evolution from primate to the present day. There are life-size replicas of our ancient ancestors, plus hands-on exhibits and in-depth scientific explanations (in English) that will fascinate visitors of all ages. Pair with a museum-led visit to the Atapuerca archaeological site (inquire at reception or online to arrange).

    Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Castille and León, 09002, Spain
    94-725--7103

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6 (free Tues. and Thurs. at 7 pm and Wed. afternoon), Closed Mon.
  • 19. Museo Etnográfico Campo de Calatrava

    For a window into what agrarian life was like in this area in centuries past, pop into this tiny museum presided over by the passionate...

    For a window into what agrarian life was like in this area in centuries past, pop into this tiny museum presided over by the passionate historian who amassed the antique curiosities on display. The influence of the Central European "Fúcares" families on the area is especially fascinating. A guided tour, in Spanish, takes a little less than an hour and is well worth it.

    Calle Chile 6, Almagro, Castille-La Mancha, 13270, Spain
    65-701--0077

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5
  • 20. Museo Romano

    Museum/Gallery

    This hidden-gem museum uses the archaeological record to show what life was like in Astorga during Roman times, when the city was called Asturica...

    This hidden-gem museum uses the archaeological record to show what life was like in Astorga during Roman times, when the city was called Asturica Augusta. The most memorable part of the experience is the Ruta Romana, a walking tour of Roman archaeological remains in Astorga (combined tickets can be bought at the museum).

    Pl. San Bartolomé 2, Astorga, Castille and León, 24700, Spain
    987-616937

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €3, Closed Mon.

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