In Castile and León, at the very border with Portugal, surrounded by the Agueda River, lies at the top of a hill, a colossal city-fortress: Ciudad Rodrigo. While there, you will feel like you travel back in time. With its palaces built of granite, stone roads, and a Romanesque cathedral, Ciudad Rodrigo has been declared one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
Ciudad Rodrigo has a very strategic position. Therefore, it has been inhabited for millennia. However, so many conflicts took place here that we have lost a lot of information about its inhabitants. We know that the Vettones, a Celtic tribe, have lived here: they left us a 'pig,' sculpted in granite. You can see it in the city center. Romans were here as well, but we are not even sure what was the name of the city back then. Three columns are left from this period: the medieval people from Ciudad Rodrigo were so proud of them that they turned them into the heraldic symbol of the city.
After this, there is a huge history gap: Goths and Moorish were here, but there are no traces of their activities. What we do know is that a medieval Earl, Lord Rodrigo, reconstructed the city in the XIIth century and hence gave it its current name, “city of Rodrigo.” A huge city wall was then built: Ciudad Rodrigo was at the border with both the Moorish and the Portuguese. Two hundred years later, the Castilian king Enrique II built a huge fort inside. Nowadays, it is a very popular hotel. You know... if you have never slept in a castle before, this is your opportunity!
The city has been chosen as one of the prettiest towns in Spain, a title, which is well deserved. It has countless Renaissance palaces, a beautiful cathedral, a very unusual city hall, a formidable star-shaped city wall, and five impressive gates. One of these has kept its wooden doors, which are always open: according to a local tradition, one day, the citizens were not able to open them in time, and that resulted in the death of many people - the details are confusing. Anyhow, since then, the mayor decided that those doors would never close again!
This probably happened during a siege. Ciudad Rodrigo has lived plenty of them. If you notice, in the cathedral’s façade, there are many, many holes. Well, each of them was caused by canon bullets! Right in front of it, there is a curious museum that you cannot miss: the Urinal Museum! Yes, it is exactly as it sounds, and I bet you have never seen anything like that before! You would think you know how people used to go to the toilet… well, you would be surprised!
If you happen to be near Ciudad Rodrigo in February, do not miss its Carnival Festival. It is considered to be a festival of National Interest. For five days, the bulls occupy the city center, where you are supposed to jump in and run in front of the animals. A huge party is organized around this festival, and it is undoubtedly one of the most popular ones in the region!
Last but not least, you cannot leave the town without tasting the “farinato,” a local sausage, so popular that named the people in Ciudad Rodrigo after it! They are traditionally called “farinatos.” It is made of pig’s fat, flour, anis, liquor, onion, and many other spices. It is simply delicious!
So, there you go - a beautiful town, a weird museum, a great party, and even better food. What more could you ask for while on a visit? Do not miss out on experiencing all these in Ciudad Rodrigo, a colossal city-fortress and one of the most beautiful towns in Spain!
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