Itineraries Salamanca (II)

Las Batuecas

From La Alberca, the traveller should make a point of visiting the Batuecas Valley, one of the best areas to enjoy the region's fauna and flora. Las Batuecas Park makes up a large part of the Sierra de Francia and provides a haven for protected species such as the lynx, the wolf, the mountain goat, eagles or vultures. This paradise on earth has numerous caverns with cave paintings to be seen along the way providing evidence that thousands of years ago human being settled in this place. It's not for nothing that monks chose the entrance to this valley as the place to set up their home building hermitages over the mountain to meditate. From Portillo de las Batuecas you can go between the valleys reaching St. Joseph's Shrine (The Monastery of San José del Monte offers the opportunity for a peaceful and spiritual stay. By the way you can sleep there, not for a fixed price but for what you are willing or able to give). With luck and the aid of a pair of binoculars, golden eagles and black vultures can be sighted as they glide. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to sight the danger of extinction lynx, now a protected species.

Los Arribes del Duero

The Tormes river, from Ledesma toward its encounter with the Duero, and its journey through the lands of the Spanish-Portuguese border finishing in the jetty of Vega Terrón set the character of this zone in Salamanca. Duero River leaves the central Spanish plateau’s lands and, with jagged cliffs on either side, flows along the frontier before entering Portugal. This beautiful, isolated stretch of the river is known as Arribes del Duero. The cliffs on the banks make access to the river very difficult. However, this situation facilitates the refuge of birds, some of which are in danger of extinction. In the area of the Nature Park of Arribes del Duero, the presence of deep valleys favours the existence of peculiar microclimatic conditions, producing an environment fully characteristic of the Mediterranean weather with flora and the fauna of high diversity, like olive trees, almond trees, prickly pears and orange trees. Ledesma is a suitable beginning for a route that goes towards the dam of Almendra, the first in a series of spectacular hydroelectric structures. From there you can head southwest toward Villarino del los Aires and then visit balconies of the Duero River in Aldeadávila de la Ribera, where you can have an attractive boat ride along the canyon. The following villages to visit are Mieza, Vilvestre, Saucelle and Hinojosa de Duero, then descending to the Vega Terrón jetty, in Fregeneda, and finally reaching Sobradillo, home site of the Nature Park of Arribes del Duero in its beautiful medieval tower.

Border fortresses

The architectural characteristics of these fortresses are the same of those fortified structures that developed in Europe in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries as a suitable defensive model for cities, enclaves and fortified towns. But in that zone, you can see fortresses more ancient than those. Northwest of the province, San Felices and Sobradillo have remains of medieval fortresses. The castro of Yecla de Yeltes, is another not to miss defensive construction, but from the Iron Age. Continuing the route you will soon arrive at the Archaeological Site of Siega Verde, with Palaeolithic cave paintings and a museum. The jewel of the route is located in Aldea del Obispo, maybe the best example of fortified military architecture of the western part of the peninsula: the Fortress of the Conception. This defensive complex of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries displays in its different parts all the beauty and strength that allowed it to withstand conflicts with neighbouring Portuguese and French invaders in the Peninsular War. And ending this route we arrive at Ciudad Rodrigo, other fortified town with city walls. A good place to finish is the Centre of Interpretation of the Fortresses located at one of the guard posts.

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