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November 20, 2011

Ciudad Rodrigo, Spain

by Anne Paddock
Plaza Mayor Square, Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca
Ciudad Rodrigo is one of my favorite places in Spain because the old part of the town is a fortified walled city with an amazing cathedral and parador that possess a charm that has not been ruined by tourism and t-shirt shops.  Located on the central western border of Spain and Portugal, most people bypass this area in favor of the more popular destinations in Spain: Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo, Sevilla, San Sebastian, the sunny beaches and islands of southern Spain, and the Basque country. But, if you want a quiet, relaxing weekend in a historical Spanish town off the beaten path, make plans to visit Ciudad Rodrigo.

Ciudad Rodrigo is 12 miles east of the Portuguese border and is a small city in the Province of Salamanca and the autonomous community of Castile and Leon in western Spain. Easily accessible by car (55 miles from Salamanca or 240 miles from Madrid) or train, the old part of Ciudad Rodrigo sits on a hill and is self-contained with a 1.2 mile (2 kilometer) fortified wall around the old part of town. If arriving by car from Salamanca, consider taking a beautiful road called the “Pena de Francia” which is a picturesque route through the countryside reminiscent of the back roads of France. The trip may take longer but the views are beautiful. Pack lunch in the morning and stop along the way for a picnic in the countryside.

In planning a trip, consider the following recommendations:

1.  Stay at the Parador
2.  Walk the perimeter wall of the old part of town
3.  Explore the old part of town by foot

4.  Visit the Cathedral

The Parador
The Parador in Ciudad Rodrigo is a castle that was built in the 14th century for King Henry II (Enrique II) and is known as “El Parador de Ciudad Rodrigo”or simply “Enrique II” (Spain always has three names for a place).  One of the first paradores of Spain, El Parador de Ciudad Rodrigo opened in 1929. Eighty odd years later and the castle is as intriguing as ever with 35 rooms, a restaurant, conference facilities, gardens, and beautiful views of the countryside. On a sunny day, the garden is the perfect place to relax and read a book.The rates start at 105 Euros ($145) a night with breakfast included but check the website (www.parador.es) for specials and rates that include dinner.193673651_2952009132721

Parador de Ciudid Rodrigo (Enrique II)
Plaza Castillo, 1
37500 Ciudad Rodrigo
00 34 92 346 04 04
www.parador.es (for reservations)

e-mail: ciudadrodrigo@parador.es

Walk the Perimeter Wall

After the castle of Enrique II was built, the king fortified the town by surrounding it with a wall that is 1.2 miles around (2 kilometers) that starts and ends at the castle (parador).My husband who hates to walk except in fortified towns, completely enjoyed exploring the walls and moats..twice. On a clear day the views are spectacular.canstockphoto8501955

Explore the Old Town
The walled town of about six square blocks is easy to navigate by foot and the only recommended way. With narrow, winding streets visitors can easily learn their way around quickly. Stop in the Plaza Mayor (the feature photo) or the Plaza de San Salvador (pictured below) and have a cup of coffee at one of the outdoor restaurants or enjoy a late lunch (lunch is typically not served until 2:00 pm). There are no “great” or famous museums but there are examples of Roman and Gothic architecture and small museums throughout the town, a list of which can be obtained from the Tourist Information Office (www.aytociudadrodrigo.es).
Visit the Cathedral 
The Cathedral of Ciudad Rodrigo is also known to locals as the “Catedral de Santa Maria” but simply as the “Catedral” to most.  Built between the 12th and 14th centuries in the Roman and Gothic style of architecture, the footprint of the this national monument is in the shape of a cross.  There is a beautiful cloister and several chapels within the walls.
Cathedral of Ciudad Rodrigo
Plaza Herrasti y Plaza Amayuelas (located between these 2 plazas)
Open Monday 11:45-2:00
Open Tuesday – Saturday 11:45 – 2:00 and 4:00 – 7:00
There is a museum attached called the Museo Diocesano (Museum of the Diocese):
Open Monday 11:00 – 2:00
Open Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 2:00 and 4:00 – 7:00

Open Sunday 11:45 – 2:00 and 4:00 – 6:00

Ciudad Rodrigo has two tourism offices:

Centro de Recepcion de Visitantes (located outside the old walled city)
Avda. de Safarad
37500 Ciudad Rodrigo
00 34 92 316 3373
Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 – 2:00 and 4:00 – 7:30
Open Sunday and Monday from 10:00 – 2:00

www.aytociudadrodrigo.es

Officina Municipal de Tourismo de Ciudad Rodrigo
Plaza Mayor, 27
37500 Ciudad Rodrigo
Open Tuesday – Friday from 10:00 – 2:00

www.aytociudadrodrigo.es

Helpful Hints:
  • The city doesn’t fully grasp the tourism industry in that tourism offices have very limited hours.
  • Lunch is typically served from 2:00 – 4:00 or (14:00 – 16:00). Dinner hours are typically 9:00 – 11:00 (21:00 – 23:00).
  • Nothing ever opens up before 10:00 so sleep in and enjoy your breakfast before venturing out.
  • In dialing from outside the country, dial 0 11 followed by the country code (34) and the region code (92) and then the 7 digit phone number. If dialing from within Spain, dial 0 followed by the region code (92) and then the 7 digit number.
  • Tipping is not necessary as service is included in the price but most patrons leave the change.

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