Valladolid and Tordesillas are part of the Castilla & León region in northwest Spain. It is located 2 hours by car from Madrid but you can also use the train which is actually quicker (1 hour from Madrid Chamartín sation). Using the car has some advantages, including the fact of visiting easily other cities/villages close by and the flexibility to sleep outside the city center (it can be cheaper).
Valladolid is the capital of the region and where we started this weekend escape. The first thing we visited was the Christopher Columbus Museum and House (he died in this house), an interactive museum with 4 floors that describes not only the 4 journeys of Columbus but also the planning and the end of his life. If visiting Valladolid this is one of the main things you should see.
Since we visited the museum in the late afternoon, we then decided to walk a bit in the historical centre. The main plaza (Plaza Mayor) is one of the biggest plazas in Spain and it is closed to traffic, full of people, coffees and stores. We had dinner in a great restaurant (it was my birthday!) and we were actually surprised by the quality of the restaurants we saw during our stay.
Next day we visited the Patio Herreriano, a Spanish contemporary art museum, very modern and spacious. The building's architecture is beautiful with plenty of light. We also visited the National Sculpture Museum, inside the Marques de Villena Palace and the San Gregorio College Chapel, close to the San Pablo Church. Both buildings have beautiful old facades! We finished the day with a visit to the Valladolid Cathedral - there is a museum inside where you can see hundreds of sacred objects and paintings.
Close to Valladolid (40km / 30m driving) is Medina de Rioseco, an old fortified town that preserves some gates from the historical wall. Although the general ticket includes more monuments/museums, we only had time to visit two of them: the Santiago and the Santa Maria churches. In total it took us less than 1 hour to visit both churches (guided tour). The visit to Santa Maria church includes the Benavente chapel that is impressive, sometimes described as the "Sistine Chapel of Castile".
In our last day we also visited Tordesillas, a small town located 30km from Valladolid (30m driving). In the past it was a major transit hub, and in 1494 an important treaty was signed here between the Catholic Monarchs and the Portuguese crown - they established a line dividing the globe between Spain and Portugal for colonization purposes.
The town is very small but with great historical places, including the famous Santa Clara Convent. Originally built by king Alfonso XI as his palace in 1344 but in 1363 the palace was adapted to be used as a monastery. After that it was the Queen Joanna's confinement in 1509, which is sadly remember in History. The building has several Arab influences although it was mainly built in the Gothic style. We did the guided tour which took around 45m.
In Tordesillas we also visited the Treaty of Tordesillas Museum which is completely free and very interesting. Located in the Treaty house, one of the noblest buildings existing in the town in the 15th century. In the entrance we could see the two crowns represented: Castile and Portugal. The museum is divided in 3 parts: before the treaty, Colón's ideas about the world and finally the world after the treaty. The museum has lots of information, maps and objects, and it is in Spanish, Portuguese and English.
We can recommend this route for a weekend and city break. Loads of History, peaceful towns and great food!
- Main costs: Hotel Pago del Olivo in Simancas, Valladolid (55€/night/2 people), Columbus Museum (2€/person), National Sculpture Museum (3€/person but Sunday morning is free), Valladolid Cathedral Museum (3€/person or 5€/person if you want to go to the tower upstairs), Medina de Rioseco Patrimonio ticket (5€/person), Santa Clara Convent guided tour in Tordesillas (6€/person)
- Recommended restaurants in Valladolid: El Peso (for lunch/dinner), Los Zagales (for lunch/dinner), Cervantes (although a bit expensive we had a discount with El Tenedor for dinner)
- Official website about Valladolid (in Spanish only): https://www.valladolid.com/
- Official website about Medina de Rioseco (part of the web in English but most in Spanish only): http://www.medinaderioseco.com/index.shtml
- Official website about Tordesillas (in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French): http://www.tordesillas.net/