When you take a moment to think about the most picturesque historical towns in Spain, Albarracín is sure to figure near the top of the list. This town located in the province of Teruel in the autonomous region of Aragon is situated high up in the stony hills of the Sierra de Albarracín mountain range. The Guadalaviar River runs alongside. The population of the town has almost halved since the mid-1800s and these days only around 1,000 people live there. During the 1960s, Albarracín was declared a National Monument, which is not surprising when you consider the panoramic views and the strong castle wall that not only surrounds the town but runs up through the hills and around the whole municipality. The name Albarracín has Muslim origins and refers to theAl Banu Razin family that occupied the area when the Moors conquered the town in 1167. It wasn’t until 1284 that it was reconquered by the Christians, led by Peter III of Aragon. As well as walking around the walls of the town, it’s well worth taking the time to stroll around the narrow cobbled streets in the historic quarter contemplating how people lived around 800 years ago.
The Peñafiel Castle sits above the medieval village from its position on top of high ground. The town, with around 5,550 inhabitants, is situated in the province of Valladolid and in the autonomous region of Castilla y León, right in the heart of the wine-growing area of the Ribera del Duero. As you stroll around the ‘casco antiguo’, the smell of wine and roasted piglet on the open fire will hit you and accompany you on your trip. The imposing Peñafiel Castle has actually been converted into the Regional Wine Museum, which isn’t surprising taking into account the importance of this region for the wine sector in Spain. The main square, the Plaza del Coso, is somewhat of a fascinating feature as still to this day it is used to hold bullfights and festivals. Houses surround the main square but since medieval times the town hall owns the rights to use the owners’ balconies and doorways whenever a bullfight takes place. Another interesting feature are the chimneys that are scattered around the terrain. These actually sit on top of the ground and are vents for the underground caves below which were used to store all the wine cultivated in the area. The chimneys were put in place to allow the gases caused by fermentation to escape.
While there are less than 100 inhabitants of this little medieval village in Soria, they probably wouldn’t give up living in this enchanting place that has the feeling that time has stopped for anything in the world. Calatañazor is situated on the top of a high rock that dominates the whole of the River Abión valley. It is completely enclosed by its medieval walls that are still intact. Within the walls of the town, you will be delighted by the charming houses all made from stone, adobe and wood. Of particular interest are the ruins of the former Calatañazor castle with its tower, the church of Nuestra Señora del Castillo, the Hermitage of la Soledad, the El Sabinar Park and the monument of Almanzor.
Sepúlveda in the province of Segovia in Castilla y León is known as the town of the Seven Doors. Sepúlveda is a fortified town that has preserved many of its medieval traits. Parts of its 10th century city walls still exist, as do a number of its ‘doors’, like the main Puerta del Rocío or the Puerta del Ecce Homo. Another of the architectural highlights is the Romanesque El Salvador Church, which is said to date back to about 1093. Also of historical interest if the Santa María de la Peña Sanctuary. It is not only a beautiful example of history but its surroundings are also stunning as it is located looking out on to the Hoces del Río Duratón National Park. Sepúlveda also attracts visitors due to its excellence in culture and gastronomy.
Ronda is a sight to behold when you witness it from afar, taking in its position 750m above sea level. Two sides of the old town are separated by the Guadalevín River on top of which the town itself majestically sits. Three impressive 18th century bridges –Puente Romano, Puente Viejo and the Puente Nuevo – span the deep Tajo canyon below. But this is not a sleepy town hidden away, Ronda, which is located in the province of Málaga and in the region of Andalucía, has approximately 40,000 inhabitants and is one of the fastest-growing town in the whole region. As well as the breathtaking views that attract thousands to visit, Ronda is also the birthplace of modern bullfighting and boasts one of the oldest bullrings in Spain. The old town of Ronda has been classed as of national interest and history lovers will be fascinated by its medieval walls, the museums, the Mondragón Palace and delightful water gardens and so much more. The Arab baths dates back as far as the 13th or 14th century.