When you next stay at Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine in Spain (there’s a stunning spa opening there this summer), spend a few hours in nearby Valladolid. This university city was a former capital, was where Phillip II was born (of Spanish Armada fame) but most importantly at least to me, it was the home & only surviving house of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote.
The Cervantes House is now a museum and for a few euros, you can walk around his historic domicile, appropriately decorated in the style and time of his residence, and dream a little of tilting windmills.
Here’s Philip II looking out on his birthplace. He’s technically a King of England too – King Philip I, I’m told – married to Henry VIII’s daughter Mary but is Spanish Armada was vanquished by her sister Elizabeth I.
It was, however, thanks to an intervention by Philip II that Francisco de Salamanca, his architect, helped redefine urban town planning after a dreadful fire in 1561. He created the Plaza Mayor, a colonnaded large square perfect for market trading and public celebrations – the precursor to every square found in Spain’s major cities today.
So take in a little history but do visit the Museum of Contemporary Art too.
When I visited in 2013, I saw an artist creating a mural before my very eyes (fascinating) and almost bumped into a statue, mistaking him for a tourist like me. Wonderful collection.
There are some great tapas bars too in Valladolid – this is a particularly unique one – wabi-sabi – a combination of Spanish tapas and Japanese sushi – very unusual, really enjoyable.
This is an historic city, kept vital and alive by the vivacity that only the youth of the university can bring. Salut Christopher Columbus (it’s where he died) and so glad not to meet you, Torquemada of the Spanish Inquisition who was born here. All in all, it’s one amazing city and well worth a side trip. Could have visited for days.
Contributor & Photography: Sue Lowry
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