Spain Travel Guide
Valladolid is not the most touristic city in Spain, and this is exactly
why we recommend visiting. It’s a fairly typical city, with very nice areas
to walk through and with plenty of things to see whilst still enjoying
the real Spanish life.
San Pablo Church
版権: bbsferrari / 123RF
Chances are you have never heard about Valladolid before, but if I ask you about Miguel de Cervantes and Cristobal Colon (Cristopher Columbus), you surely know them as the two most prominent historical figures of the country.
Miguel de Cervantes is the author of El Quijote, the best novel ever written in Spanish and considered equal to the works of Shakespeare. De Cervantes lived in Valladolid, and in the city the only house in which he lived has been preserved. Nowadays, it is a small national museum that you can visit. It even contains paintings and furniture from the 17th Century.
Cristobal Colon also lived and died in Valladolid, and you can visit a house dedicated to him with a museum about his life and his trips to America. This house is not the original from the times of Columbus, but the museum is still really interesting.
The cathedral is a curious piece of history, because though it was intended to be the biggest cathedral in Europe, it was left unfinished by its architect, Juan de Herrera, because the King of Spain summoned him to start El Escorial in Madrid, and also due to the fact that the river was too close by and the foundations were causing problems during construction.
CR kartouchken / 123RF
Much more modern is El Pasaje Gutierrez, a commercial passage from 1886. There are only two other passages like this in Spain, one in Zaragoza and the other in Albacete. They were built to connect two commercial streets and enhance trade. Though it’s a secluded place, it was opened to the public so that customers could pass through and shop in the stores. It is now a small piece of history from the Industrial Revolution, and has a charming atmosphere. Now, there are some bars and coffee shops there where you can rest after a visit to the city.
Valladolid also has many churches, and we are not going to explain them all one by one. But, we would recommend that whenever you see one, it is a good idea to go inside and take a quick look at the architecture and works of art. Just make sure there is no mass before you go in! (Open the main door and take a look inside - if it is full of people, just come back later and nobody will feel disturbed).
There are several museums that are worth a visit in Valladolid, but one of them is definitely superior to the rest: the National Museum of Sculpture. This is the best sculpture museum in the whole country. If you do pay a visit, you will see sculptures from the 15th to the 17th centuries. The main theme here is religion, but no matter what your beliefs, you will be amazed by the quality and expressivity of the sculptures.
The second most prominent museum in the city is El Museo Patio Herreriano which is dedicated to contemporary art. All the works are from 1918 onwards, and the museum also plays host to interesting temporary shows.
Valladolid is a region of famous wine, giving you the opportunity to visit
wineries to see how they produce the wine, and perhaps in the end try and
buy a bottle for yourself. One of the most authentic experiences is a visit
to Bodega Arbas, about an hour’s drive from the city. However, the tour experience and
explanations are conducted in Spanish.
But you don’t need to visit the winery to try the wine. Without living the city, you can have a delightful lunch in restaurants such as La Parrilla de San Lorenzo, a luxury restaurant in the basement of a monastery, in which you can try the most common local dishes such as the roasted lamb and some of their desserts styled on the original recipes from sisters of the monastery.
As you likely know, tapas is a very traditional meal in Spain, in which you eat a small piece of food in different bars without sitting down to eat at a table. Valladolid is an excellent place to indulge in this tradition, and if you visit the bars between 9 and 11pm, you will see many people eating and drinking after work. It’s a very “Spanish” thing to do.
If you have time, do not miss the park in the city center, called el Campo
Grande. It is absolutely stunning in every season of the year. It’s absolutely
wondrous, thanks to its botanical variety as well as its birds. It’s a
perfect place for children, but also for couples taking a romantic walk
to see the peacocks, pheasants and pigeons. Or if you go alone, just take
a seat on a bench and enjoy the fresh air and the nature.
Another nice place for a walk is the riverbank. Many people use it for running and other kinds of sports, but there is enough space enough to walk quietly. Funnily enough, there is also a beach there, which attracts many visitors in the summertime. Also, you can take a boat trip and experience a different view of the city, if the weather permits. And if you keep walking northeast for about 15 minutes, you will find the joining of the two rivers, Esgueva and Pisuerga. Even so, you still won’t be out of the city.
Valladolid is a cold city, and it is not uncommon for temperatures to reach 0 oC. So, winter may not be the best season to go. If you are not afraid of cold weather, then anytime is good. However, the Holly Week (usually in April, though the dates change each year) is a very important event, and the city will be full of tourists. During this celebration, you can see one spectacular religious ritual in which the sculptures of Jesus Christ and the Virgin are taken through the city to remember the hardships that Jesus endured. We highly recommend seeing this if you have the chance, but the downside is that the city will be more or less full of tourists. Another important event is the Street Theater festival, when artists from all around the world come to the city to show their performances. Dates are not fixed, but this usually takes place around May.
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