Hallstatt, which claims to be the prettiest village in Austria
Santillana del Mar, “Le plus joli village d’Espagne” according to Jean Paul Satre
Skofia Loka, Slovenia
Schiltach in the Black Forest, Germany
Burano, Venice, Italy
Bárcena Mayor, Cantabria, Spain
Which one would you choose?
Posted in Austria, Croatia, Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Natural Environment, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Travel
Tagged Bárcena Mayor, Buchs Switzerland, Burano, Hallstatt, Primosten, Santillana del Mar, Schiltach Black Forest, Venice, Škofja Loka
The cool narrow alleys started to drop now as we approached the river Fluvià where fat carp swam lazily close to the surface in the sunshine and mocked the fishermen who were valiantly trying their luck and then we reached the twelfth century Romanesque bridge which is the principal feature of the town.
Before the adjacent new road bridge was built this was the only way of crossing the river and it is heavily fortified in a redundant sort of way and was once so important that it was blown up and partially destroyed during the Spanish civil war.
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Posted in Cathedrals, Europe, History, Knights of St John, Postcards, Spain, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Almagro, Besalu, Carmona, Catalonia, Catalonia Postcards, Chincon, Ciudad Rodrigo, Cudillero, Pedro Bernardo, Ronda, Santillana del Mar, Sigüenza, Trujillo, Weekly Photo Challenge
Besalú is designated as a National Historic Property but it is rather small and as we were staying here for a couple of nights we thought it best not to rush around and see everything straight away. This plan suited me just fine because it was exceptionally hot by mid-afternoon so the best place to be was in the main square under a parasol with a big glass of cool Estrella beer in a frozen glass and several plates of local specialities for lunch.
Eventually the bars and restaurants began to close down as the owners and staff cleared the tables and started to think about the afternoon siesta so we took the hint and moved off to go and explore the streets of Besalú.
Away from the medieval main square we melted into narrow alleys with cobbled streets with weathered stone buildings and balconies with terracotta pots host to effervescent flower displays, wooden doors with several coats of paint covering up the damage of hundreds of years and heavy metal hinges and rusty locks.
In the forty degree heat this was a wonderfully lazy place where shopkeepers sat outside without worrying about customers or sales targets and tourist shops acted like a magnet for Kim who was considered this the perfect place to find the holiday souvenir in the craft and pottery shops that lined the streets.
The cool narrow alleys started to drop now as we approached the river Fluvià where fat carp swam lazily close to the surface in the sunshine and mocked the fishermen who were valiantly trying their luck and then we reached the twelfth century Romanesque bridge which is the principal feature of the town. Before the adjacent new road bridge was built this was the only way of crossing the river and it is heavily fortified in a redundant sort of way and was once so important that it was blown up and partially destroyed during the Spanish civil war.
We walked across the bridge to the other side of the river but this transported us from the medieval to the modern world and so we stayed just long enough to look back and admire the view, the stone houses rising vertically from the banks of the river, the bridge, designed to repel hostile attacks and the intense blue sky that framed the whole town and full of swifts and house martins that came in waves and waves like Nazi Stuka dive bombers.
After we were certain that we had seen what there was to see in Besalú we returned to the main square and the shade of the pavement café parasols and as we watched guests arriving for a wedding in the church we agreed that this was one of the most attractive places that we had visited in Spain and excluding cities we started to compile a top ten and in no particular order this is it:
The fishing village of Cudillero in Asturias with its tiered buildings wedged into a wooded rocky cove and staying on the northern coast the stone built village of Santillana del Mar in Cantabria and then dashing south to Andalusia and the immaculate white-washed villages of Ronda and, close to Seville, the town of Carmona. I think we are happy to declare Extremadura as among our favourite places in Spain and from here the conquistador town of Trujillo must surely have a place in our top ten. Next I had to squeeze in the historic town of Ciudad Rodrigo in Castilla y Leon and finally four places in the centre of the country and all quite close to Madrid, Chinchon of course with its delightful Plaza Mayor and nearby Almagro and then the delightful town of Siquenza and finally, and this just might be the best of all, the mountain village of Pedro Bernardo once again in Castilla y Leon.
This is a personal top ten and we have barely visited enough places in Spain to be qualified to compile this list so I have left out your favourite then I apologise and invite you to comment and add a suggestion.
Gradually the wedding guests all made their way inside the church and Kim slipped back to the hotel to rest so I took the opportunity to enter the church that had previously been locked and gatecrash the wedding but I wasn’t the only one and no one seemed especially bothered by that as they concentrated on the ceremony as we poked about the side chapels and watched the happy couple nervously exchanging vows and rings.
Later as the sun dipped, the shadows grew longer and the temperature dropped we went back out into the square and selected a restaurant for evening meal and enjoyed a slow service menu del dia for only a few euro as we watched the town move slowly from evening to night time and before we returned to the hotel for the last time today we repeated this afternoon’s walk and completed another circuit of the town this time under floodlights rather than a blistering sun.
Posted in Cathedrals, Europe, Food, History, Hotels, Literature, Spain, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Almagro, Besalu, Carmona, Catalonia, Catalonia Postcards, Chincon, Ciudad Rodrigo, Cudillero, Pedro Bernardo, Ronda, Santillana del Mar, Sigüenza, Trujillo
Although the forecast was poor the weather by contrast was better than expected and there was a clear blue sky with just a few wispy clouds and from the museum car park it was possible to see the sea only a few hundred metres away.
We drove out of the village on a road that climbed quickly and at the top we were overawed by a sight that we were not prepared for. At a distance of about fifty kilometres we could see the two thousand five hundred metre high peaks of the Picos de Europa which remained snow capped and glistening white in the mid morning sun.
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Posted in Beaches, Cantabria, Europe, Food, History, Natural Environment, Spain, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Antoni Gaudi, Cantabria, Comillas, Culture, El Capricho, Life, Picos de Europa, San Vicente De La Barquera, Santillana del Mar
“Le plus joli village d’Espagne” Jean Paul Sartre
Santillana del Mar is a most picturesque town and often appears in any top ten of best villages in Spain along with Cudillero, Almagro, Ronda, Trujillo and Alcala de Henares. This may of course have something to do with the fact that the French writer, philosopher and all-round clever dick, Jean Paul Sartre declared it to be the prettiest village in Spain in 1938, although I am not absolutely sure just how much of Spain he visited and just what he was comparing it with or how he came to this rather sweeping judgement. Perhaps it was just a lucky guess!
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Posted in Cathedrals, Europe, Food, History, Hotels, Natural Environment, Spain, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Cantabria, Cantabrian Mountains, Culture, Life, Santillana del Mar, Spain, Spain Festival
Not long after leaving Burgos and as we travelled north the landscape began to change. Only gradually at first and then more rapidly as we approached the snow capped Cantabrian Mountains.
The endless brown prairies of Castilla y León started to slowly give way to enclosed green fields of Cantabria and now there were ridges and escarpments each one playing host to a clutch of wind turbines. There was livestock in the fields as we began to climb, gently at first and then more dramatically into the mountains.
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Posted in Cantabria, Europe, History, Natural Environment, Spain, Travel, World Heritage
Tagged Bárcena Mayor, Burgos, Cantabria, Cantabrian Mountains, Carmona, Castilla y Leon, Santillana del Mar