On 13th of May we drive to Zamora to stay here for two days and three nights.
Zigzagging to Zamora – through villages and hills
From León to Zamora we zigzag along small roads. In small Benavente we have some sandwiches at the Plaza Mayor. Heavy traffic here and the lamps need to be repaired.
Our bar also provides choco drinks, including a black and a white choco Suizo – charming, I did not know about that before.
We follow the river Esla and turn off to the smooth Sierra Soldana. The fields are green, the flowers are in full bloom, like the white rockrose.
The river Esla is dammed to produce electricity – the Judas tree is violet.
The river Esla later joins the river Duero that originates near Soria.
Maybe this Ilex grove (dehesa) is populated by pigs in October. The pigs love acorns. Spanish ham is delicious.
Above the Duero, I see the first “Duero” vineyard – it belongs to the D.O. of Zamora.
The tastefully architectured NH Palacio del Duero
In Zamora we settle in the NH Palacio del Duero close to the river Duero. The Palacio is in a former factory that has been tastefully rebuilt.
From far, the former factory tower shows us the way to our hotel.
Former factory areas have been remodelled to conference rooms…
… and to corners where hotel guests can relax.
The NH hotel Group has engaged an extremely talented architect. We are impressed.
Zamora at the silver road – the bridge across the Duero is their landmark
Zamora has been founded by the Romans – the Roman silver road crossed the Duero here. The Puente de Piedra (old stone bridge) from the 13th century has been refurbished in the 20th century.
The Romans called their city Ocellum Durri (eye of the Duero) and the Arabs called it Samurah. Until the late 11th century, the city changed hands several times and then definitvely remained Christian, now called Zamora.
Zamora’s Romanesque heritage with the pearl, the Cathedral
THE Pearl of Zamora is the Romanesque Cathedral de San Salvador…
… with the elegant cupola (called cimborrio)…
… that produces this dancing airiness inside.
The nave is relatively short and dominated by the Spanish choir, right in the middle.
The northern Puerto de los Obispos (the bishops’ portal) has been decorated with pretty pine cones.
Our “Dumont” says that the Cathedral was built quickly – between 1151 and 1174. I recognize the Byzantine and Arab Architecture in the cupola and the bishops’ portal.
Many more Romanesque churches in Zamora
Many more Romanesque churches are in this small city. For example the Iglesia Magdalena…
… or the Iglesia Santa Maria la Nueva…
… or the Iglesia de San Juan Baptista de Puerta Nueva at the Plaza Mayor.
These are statues representing the processions – again and again we come across doors with the name plates of confraternities.
Traces of the Spanish Reconquista
Castilla and León is full of castles – the territory regained from the Arabs had to be defended. Also Zamora has its castle.
Below the castle and outside of the city walls is the Iglesia de Santiago El Viejo that played an important role: El Cid was dubbed knight here. He is the famous and excelling commander guiding the Spanish army in the 11th century.
A vivid and relaxed city at this warm late spring evening
We enjoy strolling through the narrow streets of this vivid and relaxed city. Citizens of all ages sit on the benche and have a chat.
Cats watch the street life.
Storks feed their offspring.
Some luxury: Dinner in the Parador
We have dinner in the Parador. We are welcomed by a hearty “Grüezi” with a clear Swiss accent. The receptionist of the Parador worked in St. Gallen and Zürich many years ago, to earn money and then continue his studies in Spain.
We eat excellent fish here, and my favorite meal was the Saquito de Rabo which was oxtail carefully simmered and wrapped up in a light pastry “bag”.
We walk back to our hotel through the now dark narrow streets.
Source: Hans-Peter Burmeister and Felix Scheffler, “Madrid und Zentralspanien”, Dumont Ostfildern 2013