Experience rural Spain on
your next holiday
- Travel Articles - Extremadura
Parque de Monfragüe
Spain offers a variety of
destinations, ranging from the green and lush north, the dry and arid interior
and its gorgeous, sandy coastlines. While many of the most popular destinations
are fascinating and enjoyable, such as Madrid, Barcelona, the Costa Blanca
and the Costa del Sol, it can be a truly rewarding experience to visit
the rural and less-touched areas of Spain. Here you can stay among beautiful
landscapes in unique accommodations. The following are two ideal areas
of the country to enjoy nature, true peace, relaxation and beauty.
1. Monfragüe National Park,
This Spanish National Park is
for its bird life and lies between Trujillo, Plasencia and the city
of Cáceres in the Cáceres province of Extremadura. Set in
the central area of the country, here can be seen the best preserved and
largest Mediterranean forest in the world, nestled among hills and including
oak forests and Mediterranean flora, dotted with pretty streams and rivers.
Due to the streams, rivers and reservoirs in the area, the park offers
a rich and fascinating variety of plant and animal life.
Photo by Jose Antonio
Cotallo López on Flickr
Among the birdlife, the
largest colony of Black Vulture in the world can be found in the park,
with more than 200 pairs and Monfragüe also has the highest concentration
of the rare Imperial Eagles in the world at 10 pairs. Other birds of prey
of note include the Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle and
the Peregrine Falcon. It is also one of very few habitats where the iconic
Iberian lynx still thrives.
The existence of man from
days gone by can be found in the Castillo Cave of Monfragüe and its
cave paintings. The cave stands above the Tajo River in a rocky area. Also
of interest is the Puente del Cardenal bridge and the traditional, unspoiled
village of Villarreal de San Carlos. The village stands at the entrance
to the park and features a visitor centre where people can find out more
about the natural value of the park and a number of enjoyable walking routes
to the most emblematic areas of the Biosphere Reserve.
Some of the best places
to stay when visiting Monfragüe include the Hospederia Parque de Monfragüe,
a comfortable hostel, and the Palacio Viejo de las Corchuelas, a bed &
breakfast in an old palace. Both accommodations are approximately 6-7 km
from the park’s entrance. For a
luxurious stay in Spain, consider the Palacio Carvajal Girón
in Plasencia, Cáceres, an upscale hotel set in a palatial 16th-century
building with a restaurant, indoor and outdoor pools and a tapas bar, 22
km from the park.
2. The Alpujarras and the Sierra
The Alpujarras is a natural
region in Andalucia, southern Spain and spreads over the slopes of the
Sierra Nevada and the nearby valley. The name comes from the Arab “al-bugscharra”
which translates to “land of grass.” The area is placed across the borders
of the Granada and Almeria provinces and offers beautiful, scenic landscapes.
Photo of the Alpujarras
by Ramiro Ramirez on Flickr
A visit to the area is ideal
in spring and autumn, when temperatures are more moderate, allowing visitors
to explore the many hiking paths and routes in comfort. Spring, especially,
is beautiful, with the many yellow and purple wild flowers in bloom all
over the area.
Dating from the Moorish occupation,
there are a number of quaint and traditional white villages (pueblos blancos)
in the area. The villages seem to hang on the hillsides and are built in
the Berber style, with narrow, cobblestoned streets and white homes, offering
balconies full of colour with their bougainvillea and geraniums.
One place well worth the
visit is the town of Lanjarón, which is famous for its thermal springs
and wellness tourism. The town is also known for the natural spring mineral
water of the same name, available in any supermarket. Lanjarón is
the closest of the Alpujarran towns to Granada (a 49-km drive away), with
all its many attractions, but has its own interesting locations to visit,
including the Water Museum. There are many shops in the town selling the
iconic “Jamón de Lanjarón,” delicious cured ham and one of
the most popular items in the Spanish food scene.
Among the recommended places
to stay in the area are the traditionally decorated apartments at Alojamiento
Rural El Brazal, located 1.5 km from Lanjarón. The property is ideally
located for exploring the Alpujarras and for skiing in the Sierra Nevada.
For those who prefer a hotel, Nuevo Palas is located in the centre of Lanjarón.
The property offers a terrace and swimming pool with panoramic views over
the nearby mountains (pictured above).
Make a plan to have a rural
holiday in Spain on your next visit. Enjoy the beautiful scenery, the
traditional towns, beautiful accommodations and delicious local cuisine.
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