Tucked in between the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers in the Castile and Leon region in northeastern Spain is the capital city bearing the same name of the province of Valladolid.
In its glory days, the historic city was once home to the royalty of Castile and was even the seat of power of the Kingdom of Spain. Natural disasters, politics and wars all took their toll on the city down the ages and what was left of its former splendid past was all the historic architecture. Nevertheless, Valladolid remains to be one of the major economic centers in the province, a cultural and culinary artery and a respected name in the field of wine production.
It is relatively easy to explore Valladolid on foot – most of the interesting attractions are within walking distances from each other. There are plazas or squares that offer a leisurely exploration of the city’s historic sites such as the Plaza Mayor with its aristocratic houses, the Town Hall and the Palace of Los Pimentel, now used as the seat of the Provincial Council. Its main attraction is the state museum, the Museo de Esculturas.
One of the oldest museums in the country, the 15th century building is by itself an emblematic structure in the city. More impressive however is its collection of ornate and gilded polychrome sculpture, an art form that was popularized in Valladolid as well as art pieces from the Iberian Peninsula from the 13th to the 19th centuries.
Works of Spanish artists such as Alonso Berruguete, Juan de Juni and Gregorio Fernandez are on display in the museum. Former residences of its famous natives are also now part of the tourist attractions – Casa de Cervantes was where Miguel de Cervantes penned his masterpiece Don Quijote; the Christopher Columbus Museum was built on the former house of the conquistador and now displays memorabilia related to the discovery of the Americas; and the 19th century house of Spanish Romantix writer Jose Zorilla.
Finally there are medieval churches worth visiting like the “unfinished” Cathedral where polychrome sculptures of Juni can be seen, and the 17th century Iglesia de San Pablo.
Being in a region blessed with a good terroir, Valladolid counts among the best producers of wine in the country. Wine tours are part of the tourist activities in the city and the province as well, with prominent districts such as Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero, Cigales and Rueda parts of the routes. In terms of culinary legacies, Valladolid is credited for the suckling baby pig (cochinillo) and suckling baby lamb (lechazo), both praised far and wide for their tender, succulent meat and crispy skin (it is even said that the flesh is so soft and tender that you only need a plate or a saucer to cut through it).
There are two important dates in Valladolid –Easter, which is declared an even of International Tourist Interest, and the International Film Festival of Seminci in October. Of late, Valladolid also hosts the International Tapas Competition where the city comes alive with the flavors and smells of this creative and scrumptious bites.