The Parador of Zafra (official name is Parador Duque De Feria) is located on the "ruta de la plata" – which may be the oldest road in Europe. This is the way tin was brought from the mines in England and Galicia all the way down to where the Phoenician traders in Huelva and Cadiz would ship it to the markets in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
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Seven hundred years ago, after being in the hands of the Romans, Zafra was controlled by one Lorenzo Suarez de Figueroa. He fortified the city by building a wall around it , and then built himself a citadel on top of (and using the stones from) a former Moorish alcazar (fortress) . This castle is now the Parador of Zafra.
Though the edifice is well fortified and austere on the outside, inside it is delicate and palatial. There is a two level arcade – each with three arches on three of its sides. You get the immediate feel of "Renaissance" as soon as you pass through the Parador Zafra’s main door. The interior has beautiful coffered ceilings, fine iron-work railings. There and decorative details that still remain form the original palace including embellishments of marble and jasper. There is also a Gothic chapel with a wonderful octagonal cupola (dome). The best dishes of the region can be found in the classic dining room, such as lamb stew, ‘migas extremeñas’ (fried breadcrumbs) and ‘solomillo ibérico al queso de los Ibores’ (Iberian sirloin with Ibores cheese).
The official name of Parador Zafra is the Parador Hernan Cortez. This because the soon-to-be conquistador of Mexico was a protégé of the Duke of Feria, and stayed here for awhile before leaving for the New World.
Interesting nearby excursions from Parador Zafra:
– The medieval old town of Zafra – especially the adjacent Plaza Grande and Plaza Chico (great tapas bars here).
– The wonderful Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria.
Interesting day trips from the Parador of Zafra include:
– Merida – with its many Roman ruins – try and save time to visit the Museo Romano.
– Feria – with its old castle – climb the tower – it is said that on a clear day, you can see twenty different villages fron here!
– Jerez de los Caballos – the old castle here was where many of the Knights Templar lost their heads (literally!)
– Badajoz – a nice old part, but beyond that, little of interest for the visitor.
The Parador of Zafra is a fine place for lovers of history and castles. It is also conveniently located for explorations into the other parts of Extremadura and western Andalucia. Stop and sleep where Hernan Cortez slept (not many people can boast of that!).
Facilities at the Parador Zafra castle hotel;
1 Single bedroom – 38 Twin bedrooms – 10 Double bedrooms – 2 Suites – Bar – Restaurant – Telephone – Heating – Air Conditioning – Satellite television – Minibar – Safe – Elevators – Currency exchange – Seasonal swimming pool – Garden – Conference Facilities – Facilities for disabled
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(All Zafra Parador hotel information provided courtesy of SpainParador.com)