Wednesday, February 05, 2014

A road trip along the route of silver - Part 1 Zamora

Part 1: Zamora

The Ruta de la Plata is a journey we have always wanted to travel. The route is an ancient trail that travels across 4 regions and 7 provinces north and south. Over 800 Km in length and covering more than 120,000 sq Kms it certainly has a lot to offer in terms of landscapes, architecture, history and culture.

We decided to focus on three main areas and get the most out of our road trip: Zamora,  Cáceres and Monfragüe. Leaving home we headed for Oviedo and down to Leon. As it was the middle of January we were concerned that the mountain pass from Oviedo to Leon might be closed but we managed to get through despite a growing snow flurry and snow-ploughs sat in readiness for their inevitable task ahead. The problem comes when the police will only allow you to drive through the pass if your car is equipped with snow chains. At some point it will close totally. The mountains were beautiful with their sparse woodlands stripped bare by winter.

The road to Zamora is mainly motorway with a short section of national road winding its way through sleepy agricultural villages. The further south you drive the increasing number of low-growing vines can be seen in their regimental rows, resting over the colder seasons.

We arrived in Zamora and drove along the river Duero into the centre of the old town and checked into our hotel which turned out to have been an old distillery. Our terrace included the original chimney. Remnants of the factory's distillery equipment were tastefully utilised for decoration when the hotel was built within its skin. A really good mix of classic and modern.

Zamora itself is a contrast of old and new. We mainly explored the old quarter and ventured through the many narrow streets and passageways that crossed to and fro between plazas and squares. The Cathedral was in a beautiful setting along with the remains of the castle near the edge of the hill top position the town holds. There are one or two gems in Zamora including the Cathedral and it's collection of 16th century Flemish tapestries, The Baltasar Lobo Museum, the classic Art Noveaux buildings, the street art and the many tapas bars that punctuate the city.

There was enough to experience in the two days we stayed with a good mix of history, culture and traditions. Like the hundreds of chattering storks that had returned to their nests on many public and private buildings, we shall also return one day soon.

Part two will feature the treasures and architecture of Zamora's finest buildings including one of the world's most famous and prized collection of tapestries. Bookmark now or sign up for email subscription.

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