Valladolid is located at the heart of Castile and León, and it was capital of the Spanish Empire for five years (1601-1606), during the reign of Phillip III. Indeed, one can easily see the resemblance between this city and Madrid. The Austrian dynasty liked a sober architecture, with pure lines, nothing presumptuous. Therefore, this is how the city center looks like.
However, these kings were very religious, so they decided to build in Valladolid what would have been one of the biggest cathedrals of Europe: the "Santa María de la Asunción".
The project was very ambitious and, as it turned out, unrealistic. After five centuries, only 40% of it has been built, resulting in a structure that is somehow awkwardly done. Next to it, two old Roman churches are still standing proudly.
At proximity to the city center stands Campo Grande, Valladolid’s green island. Families that go there for a walk, always run into peacocks and squirrels, which are specifically enjoyed much by the youngest visitors.
Nevertheless, Valladolid is not known for its beauty as a city. No. Valladolid is very famous for its “tapas”. If you go to Spain, it is a “must” to go out for drinks and “tapas” (literally, lid/cover). Tradition has it that the tapas were invented by the Spanish king, Alfonso XIII. He liked going out for hunting and whenever he had a break, he used to drink a glass of wine. The king wanted to avoid the dust going inside his glass, so he used to cover it with a slice of Iberic ham or cheese from the picnic set. Since then, he would ask right away for his “tapa” (lid). According to another tradition, there was a law to protect the modest people, the ones who wanted to go to the tavern but could not afford to pay for both food and drink. The law would oblige the bartender to offer something to eat along with the drinks to the poorest clients, without, of course, charging for it.
Either way, in the beginning, a “tapa” would be a simple slice of ham or cheese, but in Valladolid they have made a whole art of it. Indeed, there is an annual World and National Contest of Tapas, to be celebrated every November. The competition is fierce and the results, amazing. Fantasy and good cooking ally themselves for the best “tapa”. Many of these can later be tasted in the city for the rest of the year. Additionally, on top of the “tapas” culture, Valladolid is sitting strategically between the three great Spanish wineries: Ribera del Duero (red wine), Rueda (white) and Cigales (rosé). So, even if Valladolid is not as beautiful as León or Segovia or Salamanca, it is well worth the visit…if you want to eat and drink like a king.
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