Spain’s majestic World Heritage Cities
Avila – Caceres – Cuenca – Salamanca,
Santiago de Compostela – Segovia – Toledo
These names echo the majesty that was and is Spain. These are cities unique in all the world, so special that UNESCO has awarded them "Heritageof Mankind" status.
This is the monumental Spain – with architectural treasures on a scale and of a grandeur rarely encountered anywhere else in the world. To visit these fascinating cities is to really touch the very soul of Spain.
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Avila rests in stately slumber behind perfectly preserved medieval walls. It’s almost as if time has passed her by, yet she waits patiently for today’s new pilgrims – the intrepid tourists.
Avila is for walking. In this "city of knights and nuns," you’ll walk in the very footsteps of Saint Teresa – past her own Convento de Santa Teresa – past Spain’s oldest gothic cathedral – past numerous stately homes, medieval and renaissance palaces – and along the top of the muralla– the awe inspiring city wall.
The Parador Avila backs right up against those very walls. You can walk out the doors of the Parador, across to a nearby park, and up some ancient stone stairs to the top of these magnificent fortifications – truly a walk back into time. The Parador is a former 16th century palace with granite floors and large bright rooms. It has pleasant gardens, and the restaurant serves the delicious specialties of Castile in a large stone and wood dining room. All together – you are assured of a memorable stay.
Caceres is the "city of a thousand coats of arms." There were once 300 knights in this city. There remain still, sometimes just a few steps from each other, the aged yet noble homes of those knights. Caceres has been called, "the most impressive concentration of medieval stonemasonry in all of Europe."
The old city feels little changed from its heyday 5 centuries ago. Hurry is unknown here. One should walk the old town in a slow and measured pace. Stroll through it secretive old streets in a leisurely fashion, and absorb the unique ambience of this most monumental of Spanish cities.
The Parador Caceres is housed in the former Torreorgaz palace. The rooms offer more than adequate accommodations, the service is outstanding, and the restaurant serves exceptional meals. Dining "al fresco" in the patio on a warm night will make your meal most unforgettable.
Cuenca is the location of the famous "Casas Colgadas" – the hanging houses. The city is as if carved right from the imposing limestone cliffs that jut up from the verdant Huecar valley floor. These houses are world famous – and justifiably so.
Cuenca has an amiable and somewhat ramshackle feel. Night time strolling through the city’s old quarter has a special appeal – as does hiking along the river below the city and gazing back up at the soaring, venerable "skyscrapers" of Cuenca.
A drive out to Ciudad Encantada will make for a fun half-day trip. The fantastical rock formations there are fascinating. Walk the pleasant trails that wander through them – take a picnic lunch and enjoy the incredible surroundings.
The elegant Parador Cuenca is a converted 16th century convent. Many of the rooms have breathtaking direct views across to the famous "hanging houses," others overlook the the river far below. Frescos and ornate plasterwork are everywhere, and a soothing garden now fills the original cloister. There is an incredible foot-bridge that connects the Parador with the hanging houses section across the gorge. This 4 star hotel assures a remarkable experience.
Salamanca – city of the golden glow. Luscious hues of ever- changing honey and copper reflect off the sandstone walls of Spain’s oldest university and numerous churches. The Plaza Mayor and the Casa de las Conchas (house of conch shells), the Plaza de Anaya – all gather and return the wondrous play of light in this splendid city.
Salamanca is an amber gem. The congruency and perfect"fit" of its stone architecture creates a beauty unsurpassed in any other city in Spain.
The modern Parador Salamanca offers all the amenities and more – astounding views across to the open-air museum that is old Salamanca. At night, the scene of the lit up old town is truly captivating.
Santiago de Compostela:
Santiago de Compostela – the heart of Galicia. This is where a "shower of stars" showed a peasant the way to the hidden bones of the apostle James. The energy that emanated from here was the catalyst for the re-conquest of Christian Spain.
Santiago embodies a comfortable, almost delicious antiquity. Wandering the narrow, twisting streets of the old town presents the visitor with never ending surprises and wonderment. For every visitor, Santiago always instills a desire to return again.
The Parador Santiago de Compostela – a 5-star deluxe hotel – is considered to be the oldest operating hotel in the world. Its beauty is immense, its quality unmatched. You will truly be staying in a luxurious museum. Every nook and crannycontains wonders. It sits on one side of a wide Praza (plaza) Obradoiro – with the awe-inspiring baroque Cathedral de Apostol (repository of the remains of St. James) on the other side. This is authentic 5 star sumptuousness – one of the world’s great hotels.
Segovia – the "city of poets" – a soaring ship of a city. With its Alcazar andRoman aqueduct, it is one of the most interesting and visually pleasing of cities for the visitor.
Standing and gazing out from the world-renown castle, one is transported as if to some vaguely-recalled fairytale. Everything about Segovia is mesmerizing and photogenic. With each turn in Segovia, you’ll be confronted with another picture-worthy vista – be sure and wander with camera at the ready!
The Romans were here over 2000 years ago – the Visigoths and Arabs followed. They’ve all left their marks and helped create a fascinating city in a stunning setting.
The modern Parador Segovia is called the "viewpoint of Segovia" – its views out over the city are panoramic. All rooms have "postcard" vistas. As usual, the restaurant serves sumptuous Castilian cuisine.
Toledo – the Imperial city – the "city of three cultures." For many, Toledo mesmerizes – it exudes a strangely powerful attraction – dark, claustrophobic and profound. It was the seat of the Spanish Inquisition, the home of the brilliantly disturbed El Greco, and the scene of both vicious and heroic events during the Spanish civil war.
Dignified Toledo is full of splendor and endless surprises for the traveler. It is architecturally and culturally fascinating like few other cities could be. To look at Toledo from afar, is to be beguiled and astonished.
The Parador Toledo is on a remarkable site that has unmatched views out over the city. The building was originally built by the Count of Toledo in the 14th century and is completely Toledan in character. The restaurant serves as a school for the chefs of the other paradors, and the meals are nothing short of spectacular.
Madrid is hands-down winner of the title, "Europe’s Liveliest City." Madrileños don’t really get their day into high gear until after dinnertime – and dinner usually starts around 10:00 p.m.! Then they flood their beloved city’s streets and "pasear" (stroll around) or "tapear" (hop from tapa bar to tapa bar) until dawn.
Some describe Madrid as being drab, but how far from the truth that is! Granted it suffers, as do many of the world’s major cities, from urban sprawl – but once you get past the concrete jungle outskirts, you’ll discover a city that provides endless surprises and discoveries.
There are many pockets of very old buildings that contain odd assortments of shops, tiendas and bars. You’ll happen upon eighteenth-century Bourbon squares, pleasant plazas and quaint restaurants at every other turn.
Must Sees: The Prado museum – the Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza galleries, the Plaza Mayor, the Retiro Park, the Royal Palace, Gran Via, Puerta Del Sol – and the list could go on and on.
But really – the thing that makes Madrid so special are the street scenes, the people and the energy that makes this the night-time, high-energy capital of Europe.
* Package – 9 nights – includes:
– All Paradors and hotels
– Car rental for all days except when in Santiago and Madrid
Contact us for package price on your dates.
Adios Travel Services will take care of arranging every aspect of this special journey for you. The "Soul of Spain" travel experience will not fail to live up to the billing,"one-of-a-kind." The glories of these seven magnificent cities will be wonderfully burned into your memory forever.
Really, the honorific title given by UNESCO says it all . . .
These cities are, and contain, an important part of the "Heritage of Mankind." Few experiences in travel could be as life-enhancing as this one.
Contact us right away and begin planning yourdream vacation into the "Soul of Spain."
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(Spain Parador information provided courtesy of SpainParador.com)