Northern Spain: Historic Castles and Caves

Castile and León is an autonomous region in Spain located between Madrid and the northern coastline. Many historical landmarks can be found there, in big cities, quaint towns and the countryside. Visitors can take in stunning beauty as well as rich history with the Route of St James and the most famous Spanish winemaking region nearby. Here are a few of our favorite stops enroute: 

Santillana del Mar is a small, picturesque medieval town near the Basque country. Don’t miss the collegiate church of Santa María, a Romanesque church and former monastery that dates from 870. Renaissance palaces and cobblestone streets make Santillana one of the most charming towns in this area. 

10 minutes away are the famous Altamira Caves to go even further back in Spain’s history. This cave is famous for its magnificent prehistoric paintings and engravings. It is the first place in the world where the existence of rock art from the Upper Paleolithic was discovered. While visiting the original cave becomes less and less likely, we highly recommend a visit to the Altamira Museum and Neo-Cave. 

Nearby in the mountain village of Puente Viesgo, visitors can see original caves (Castillo and Monedas caves) containing prehistoric rock art. The town established its importance in the Late Middle Ages and contains a bathhouse from the 18th century, the natural spring water here is said to have medicinal properties. 

If you’re interested in wine culture, the renowned DOQ Rioja wine region boasts breathtaking scenery and modern architecture along with historic wineries well worth a tasting and visit. 

History buffs can’t miss the central city of Burgos to visit the ornate Gothic Cathedral of St. Mary or visit the castle perched atop the city whose original structure dates back to the 9th century. There are several UNESCO world heritage sites here, including the Monasterio de las Huelgas Reales, and just outside town you can see the archaeological site of Atapuerca where the earliest man in Europe was discovered.   

Finally, a Must See at Segovia’s 14th Century Alcazar which inspired the design of Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World. This area is home to several castles including  Coca Castle with its detailed brickwork.  

Ask Valesa for your tailored tour.