Friday, 15 March 2013



Valladolid is the capital city of the autonomous region of Castile and León and the Province of Valladolid in north-western Spain. It is situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three winegrowing regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales.

Remains of Celtiberian and of a Roman camp have been excavated near the city. The nucleus of the city was originally located in the area of the current San Miguel y el Rosarillo square, and was surrounded by a palisade. Archaeological proofs of the existence of three ancient lines of walls have been found.

During the time of Moorish rule in Spain the Christian kings moved the population of this region north into more easily defended areas, and deliberately created a no man's land as a buffer zone against further Moorish conquests. The area was captured from the Moors in the 10th century, and Valladolid was a village until King Alfonso VI of León and Castile donated it to Count Pedro Ansúrez in 1072. He built a palace (now lost) for himself and his wife, Countess Eylo, the Collegiate of St. Mary and the La Antigua churches. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Valladolid grew rapidly, thanks also to the commercial privileges granted by the kings Alfonso VIII and Alfonso X, as well as to the repopulation of the area after the Reconquista.

In 1469 Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon were married in the city; by the 15th century Valladolid was the residence of the kings of Castile and remained the capital of the Kingdom of Spain until 1561, when the city was destroyed by a fire and Philip II, born here, moved the capital to Madrid, starting a period of decadence for Valladolid. In 1506 Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid in a house that is now a Museum dedicated to him. It was made the capital of the kingdom again between 1601 and 1606 by Philip III. The city was again damaged by a flood of the rivers Pisuerga and Esgueva.

Despite the damage to the old city by the 1960s economic boom, it still boasts a few architectural manifestations of its former glory. Some monuments include the unfinished cathedral, the Plaza Mayor (Main Square), which was the model for that of Madrid, and of other main squares throughout the former Spanish Empire, the National Sculpture Museum, next to the church of Saint Paul, which includes Spain's greatest collections of polychrome wood sculptures, and the Faculty of Law of the University of Valladolid, whose façade is one of the few surviving works by Narciso Tomei, the same artist who did the transparente in Toledo Cathedral. The Science Museum is next to the river Pisuerga. The only surviving house of Miguel de Cervantes is also located in Valladolid. Although unfinished, the Cathedral of Valladolid was designed by Juan de Herrera, architect of El Escorial.

Although an inland province, fish is commonly consumed, some brought from the Cantabrian Sea. Fish like red bream and hake are a major part of Valladolid's cuisine.

The main speciality of Valladolid is, however, lechazo (suckling baby lamb). The lechazo is slowly roasted in a wood oven and served with salad.

Valladolid also offers a great assortment of wild mushrooms. Asparagus, endive and beans can also be found. Some legumes, like white beans and lentils are particularly good. Pine nuts are also produced in great quantities.

Sheep cheese from Villalón de Campos, the famous pata de mulo (mule's leg) is usually unripened (fresh), but if it is cured the ripening process brings out such flavour that it can compete with the best sheep cheeses in Spain.

In the area of bread Valladolid has a bread to go with every dish, like the delicious cuadros from Medina del Campo, the muffins, the pork-scratching bread and the lechuguinos, with a pattern of concentric circles that resemble a head of lettuce.

The pastries and baked goods from the province of Valladolid are well-known, specially St. Mary's ring-shaped pastries, St. Claire's sponge cakes, pine nut balls and cream fritters.

Valladolid is also a producer of wines. The ones that fall under the Designation of Origin Cigales are very good. White wines from Rueda and red wines from Ribera del Duero are known for their quality.

Valladolid’s Top 5:
  1. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Assumption, better known as Valladolid Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral designed by Juan de Herrera. The cathedral has its origins in a late Gothic collegiate church, which was started during the late 15th century: before temporarily becoming capital of a united Spain, Valladolid was not a bishopric, and thus it lacked the right or necessity to build a cathedral. However, soon enough the Gothic collegiate church became outmoded with the growth of Renaissance classicizing architecture, and thanks to the newly established episcopal see, the Town Council decided to build a cathedral that would put similar constructions in neighbouring capitals in the shade. However, due to strategic and geopolitical reasons, by the 1560s the capital was moved to Madrid and funds for architectural projects were largely cut. Thus the cathedral was not finished according to Herrera's design; it was further modified during the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the addition to the top of the main façade, a work by Churriguera.
  2. The Plaza Mayor of Valladolid is the first great plaza in Spain, and closed with arcades, is a space intended for use as a market and as a backdrop to the public celebrations so dear to the Habsburg monarchy. It had been designed with large balconies to facilitate the viewing of the shows, and served as a model, since the seventeenth century, for many others in Spain (such as Madrid, 1617 or Salamanca, 1729) and South America, even having an impact in Italy. Its existence became defined in the mid-thirteenth century when the market moved from the Plaza de Santa Maria to Market Square, which since the early sixteenth century has been called Plaza Mayor. Individual unions were installed around it, as was the Convent of San Francisco, until 1499 the most important building in the vicinity. After that date, as mandated by the Catholic Monarchs it was the House of the Municipality who presided over the life of the city.
  3. The National Museum of Sculpture is a museum belonging to the Spanish Ministry of Culture. The museum has an extensive collection sculptural ranging from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century from convents, donations, deposits and acquisitions of the state. The museum was founded as the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts on October 4, 1842. It had its first headquarters at the Palacio de Santa Cruz. On 29 April 1933 it was moved to the Colegio de San Gregorio. Other current seats are in the 16th century Palacio de Villena and Palacio del Conde de Gondomar. The museum houses works from the 13th to 19th century, executed in the Iberian Peninsula or in other regions historically connected to Spain (Italy, Flanders, Southern America). Artworks include, among the others, a Raising of the Crossby Francisco del Rincon, I Thirst, and The Way of Calvary Gregorio Fernández, Adoration of the Magi by Alonso Berruguete, Lamentation of Christ by Juan de Juni, Penitent Magdalene by Pedro de Mena or the Holy Sepulchre or passage of the Sleepers Alonso de Rozas.
  4. The Teatro Calderón de la Barca is a theatre named after the playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca. The site of the theater was occupied until the mid-nineteenth century by the palace of the Duke of Osuna, Admiral of Castile, which was demolished to make way for the theatre. Jerónimo de la Gándara was the architect. One of the largest theaters in Spain, the facade has an eclectic neo-classical style. The Calderón opened in 1864. The interior has a horseshoe shape in the Italian style. The paint work, curtains and sets were created by the celebrated decorator Augusto Ferri. The Art Nouveau side lamps date from the early twentieth century. Other rooms were a coffee shop, a library decorated with many paintings, and a banquet room. The magnificent and lavishly decorated building became one of the main theaters in Spain when it opened.
  5. The Royal Palace of Valladolid was the official residence of the Kings of Spain during the period in which the Royal Court had its seat in Valladolid between 1601 and 1606, and a temporary residence of the Spanish Monarchs from Charles I to Isabella II, as well as and also of Napoleon during the War of the Independence. Currently is the headquarters of the 4th General Sub-inspection of the Army.