In the province of Salamanca, only a few kilometers away from Extremadura, you can find a charming village, awarded as one of the most beautiful towns in Spain: La Alberca. The traveler coming from Salamanca will leave the hot plains to find this oasis, placed between two streams. This abundance of water has attracted every major civilization since pre-roman times. All of them left their print, resulting in a unique village. Come and find out for yourself!
A Celtic village already existed in La Alberca: the place had water, gold mines, good land. The Romans, Goths, and Moorish took over later. Its name, La Alberca, means the 'pool,' a deposit of water that the Arabians used to store water. In the XIIth century, the Christian king brought in a lot of people to repopulate the area, in an attempt to secure the border with the Moors. We do not know exactly who came. Some of them were French, as proved by the toponyms. But what about the rest? Some say they were Jewish that decided to convert to Christianism. That would explain why there are so many expressions of faith sculpted on practically every door's lintel. Others, however, think that the structure of the village is very close to the one of the Moorish villages.
A fun fact about Medieval times is that, according to tradition, the women of the village alone beat a Portuguese army that tried to attack the town. They even snaffled their banner! That called for a celebration, and to this day, it is held at Easter. Another nice celebration is "Lunes de Aguas," just like the one in Salamanca. For centuries, the House of Alba, the wealthiest noble family of Spain, would offer free wine to the villagers. Nowadays, the Town Hall pays for it; it is served by those who got married that year, and following the tradition -tradition is very important here- the wine is served in… silver glasses and copper amphoras!
As for the architecture, it has also been kept intact. Very similar to the nearby Mogarraz, it combines stones and wood. These houses have been here for centuries, as confirmed by the dates inscribed at their doors. There is a very nice central square, with re-used columns all around it, like a Roman forum. At the center, a cross with strange symbols at its mast: a ladder and a snake surrounding a crosier, leading to a Christ in huge pain.
Every year, on June the 13th, a pig is released on the streets of La Alberca. All the villagers will feed him, and he will be sacrificed on January the 17th, the day of Saint Anthony Abbot. So do not be surprised if you come across him. This custom so important that a stone pig was sculpted at the door of the main church. Speaking of churches, either the converted villagers really wanted to prove that they had become spotless Christians or their beliefs were very strong because there are a lot of churches here for such a small village. The main one has inside the Christ of the Sweat. Even if it is only for the name, you have to go inside!
Much more known than its neighbor Mogarraz, the streets of La Alberca are always full of travelers that have heard of its beauty. I would recommend that you go there in Spring: there are not so many people, and you will enjoy a mind-blowing nature surrounding the village.
Do not hesitate and try some local products: the Iberian pig is a must here, with its jamón, chorizo, and such, but also pastry -perronillas are my favorite. If you are in Salamanca, take a car and come visit the three crowns of the area: La Alberca, Mogarraz, and Peña de Francia. La Alberca, the most beautiful village in Salamanca, is definitely worth visiting for a day trip!
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.