Paradores in World Heritage Cities

Monumentality, history and culture in a visit to three cities close to Madrid with an outstanding heritage: Salamanca, Segovia and Alcalá de Henares.

Day 1
Departure. Sunday.
We begin our journey in Salamanca, a university and lively town, full of historical buildings and spots. Heritage and beauty radiate from every corner. Head to the centre of the Baroque 18th-century Plaza Mayor, open your eyes, be seduced by its harmonious beauty and enter its cosy and charming cafés and taverns, such as the old Novelty, to have a drink. Discover its many monuments such as the 15th-century Casa de las Conchas, known for its façade decorated with hundreds of shells, the 13th-century Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral dating from the 16th to the 18th century. Go up to its outdoor terraces to walk among gargoyles and bells. Discover the University as well, the oldest in Spain dating from the 16th century, whose façade contains an iconic frog you can try to find to make a wish of yours come true. And of course, you can’t leave without experiencing the magic of the Huerto de Calixto y Melibea or discovering the Casa de Lis, a modernist palace with colourful stained-glass windows. Going out for tapas is a must in Salamanca, where it is a fundamental part of culture. You can’t leave the Parador without trying the morucha beef, the farinato (sausage made from bread crumbs, lard and spices) or the Iberian ham from Guijuelo.
Day 2
Monday.
You need to think ahead since it will take you about two hours by car to get to the second part of your journey. Segovia, one of the most monumental towns in Spain, will impress you at every step you take. The imposing aqueduct will remind you of the power of Rome; the cathedral, the Alcázar or the medieval walls -the only ones preserved in full besides those in Lugo and Ávila- will bring back a splendid past. Churches, such as San Esteban, San Justo, San Martín and San Millán, will take us back to medieval, Renaissance and Baroque times. In order to savour the city, you need to wander, have tapas in bars -as in Salamanca, these are offered free of charge- and indulge yourself with judiones (bean stew) and some crispy suckling pig. In the surrounding area, don’t forget to visit the La Granja de San Ildefonso Royal Palace (18th century), with its splendid Versailles-style gardens and water displays on its fountains during the summer, and the Riofrío Palace, which houses the Hunt Museum and paintings by Rubens and Velázquez and is surrounded by a forest where deer roam freely.
Day 3
Tuesday.
From Castilian territories and without stopping in Madrid, we arrive in Alcalá de Henares. Cervantes’ home town, with beautiful streets, palaces, convents and civil buildings, always invites people to discover its University (in 1499, the Cardinal Cisneros built from scratch the first university campus in the world) and the Colegio Mayor of San Ildefonso, the Plaza de Cervantes, the ruins of Santa María de la Mayor, the school streets of Santa Úrsula and Escritorios, the Iglesia Magistral Catedral de los Santos Justo y Pastor, the Roman mosaics of the regional archaeological museum... Don’t forget to wander through the crowded calle Mayor -the longest street with porticoes in Spain-, where the birth house of the illustrious author of Don Quixote stands. Enjoy its shops and its tapas bars as well and visit the Corral de Comedias, a unique building that is now the oldest in Spain and which contains important and original construction features. You need to pay attention to the agenda because Alcalá, known as the city of the Arts and Literature, offers great quality leisure activities, distributed in a wide cultural and tourist offer that may coincide with your travel dates. During your visit to this city, you should the take the opportunity to try typical dishes of the Castilian cuisine with the culinary references of the Quixote, since this is also a town with a great tapas culture. If you are travelling with children, a visit to Parque Europa in Torrejón de Ardoz is highly recommended. It boasts full-scale replicas of 18 European landmarks, it is free and just 14 km away from the Parador de Alcalá. And once you have discovered everything the city has to offer, we recommend you to make a day trip to two charming places full of history: the picturesque village of Chinchón and the Aranjuez Royal Grounds, declared a Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.