VALLADOLID, at the centre of the meseta and capital of the Castilla y León region, ought to be dramatic and exciting. Many of the greatest figures of Spain’s Golden Age – Fernando and Isabel, Columbus, Cervantes, Torquemada, Felipe II – lived in the city at various times, and for five years at the turn of the seventeenth century it vied with Madrid as the royal capital. It had wealth and prestige, yet modern Valladolid – a busy, working city of 400,000 – lost much that was irreplaceable, as many of its finest palaces and grandest streets were swept away during subsequent centuries. Nonetheless, much that remains is appealing in a city centre of restored squares and gleaming churches, including a series of excellent art museums, one of which holds the finest collection of religious sculpture anywhere in Spain. While it doesn’t have the overriding beauty of Salamanca, or the stand out monumental presence of Burgos or León, Valladolid is an easy city to like – whether it’s the pretty shaded gardens of the Campo Grande, or the student bars lined up under the shadow of a majestic Gothic church. The best time to get a sense of the city’s historic traditions is Semana Santa (Holy Week), when Valladolid is host to some of the most extravagant and solemn processions in Spain.

Outside the city, there are easy side-trips to the handsome small towns of Tordesillas and Medina del Campo, both now on the quiet and sleepy side but, like Valladolid, also boasting significant histories.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Why you should visit Palma in 2017

Forget package holidays: Palma is far more than just the gateway to Mallorca’s beach resorts. The Balearic capital is a dynamic city of stylish restaurants, c…

28 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month