The Travel Lounge

Castile and Leon - The Heart and Soul of Spain

August 23, 2021 Ed Finn & Sarah Slattery Season 1 Episode 4
The Travel Lounge
Castile and Leon - The Heart and Soul of Spain
Show Notes

We continue our Ambassadors for Spain series this week with Colm Mullen chatting to us from what some refer to as the "Soul of Spain" Castile and León is a treasure trove of historic sites and impressive landscapes.   

This is one of the destinations which offers the greatest diversity of natural landscapes in Europe, as well as spectacular monuments, a varied and abundant gastronomy… all this guarantees that this region in the interior of Spain is bound to delight you.

It has a whole host of places which are well worth visiting, including towns like Avila, Salamanca and Segovia (all three World Heritage Cities) and unique attractions such as Burgos Cathedral and the Atapuerca archaeological site, which contains traces of the first settlers in Europe. The famous Way of Saint James also runs through the Castile-León region, and is one of the world's most important pilgrim routes.

Literally dotted with hundreds of mediaeval castles and fortresses.  This region is a real witnesses to the area's rich historic and sometimes turbulent past.  With its tiny villages, wide open spaces, changing landscapes, and it's historic cities and stunning cathedrals,  this is an area for anyone wanting to explore the real Spain.   Colm lives in the beautiful city of Valladolid.  It’s known for medieval religious sites like the Spanish Gothic San Pablo Church, with a history dating from the 1400s.   

Nearby is the Royal Palace, home of Spanish kings in the early 1600s. The National Sculpture Museum occupies a majestic Gothic building. The Christopher Columbus Museum chronicles the life of the Italian explorer, who died in Valladolid in 1506.  This was the capital of Spain for a number of years.  Castille y Leon is 15% larger than the whole island of Ireland.    Colm also spoke to me about the Irish connection with Red Hugh O' Donnell and Philip III -  After Kinsale, the Earl of Tyrconnell, Hugh O’Donnell (1571-1602), resolved to come to Valladolid in the hope of persuading King Philip III to send more aid. With him came Redmond Burke, Captain Hugh Mus Mustian, and Flaithri (Florence Conroy), a father of the Franciscan order and O'Donnell's confessor. After eight months waiting in vain until everything should be ready for his return to Ireland with the army which had been promised him, he died in the King’s castle at Simancas, allegedly poisoned by an English agent, more possibly of bubonic plague.  His body was conveyed to the King's palace at Valladolid in a four-wheeled hearse, surrounded by countless numbers of the King's state officers, Council, and guards, with luminous torches and bright flambeaux of beautiful wax-light burning on each side of him. He was afterwards interred in the monastery of St. Francis.   

The Monastery of St Francis and its tombs were destroyed in the 19th century. In 1991, a plaque was erected at Simancas Castle in commemoration of ‘Red’ Hugh O'Donnell; in 2002, the O’Donnell clan erected a commemorative plaque in a side street of the Valladolid Main Square, next to a ceramic representation of the facade of the monastery.    The city of León is one of the most elegant in Spain's region of Castilla y León, filled with grand historic buildings, contemporary museums and even a design by Antoni Gaudí.   Here you also have Segovia, Avila, Salamanca, Burgos and La Granja.  Colm has a wealth of knowledge about this truly unique region and it was a pleasure to have him as our guest this week.   For more information on the area please check out www.spain.info