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Duero river over the city of Zamora.
San Vicente Church.

Zamora is a city in Castile and León, Spain, the capital of the province of Zamora. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest, near the frontier with Portugal and crossed by the Duero river, which is some 50 km/30mi downstream as it reaches the Portuguese frontier. With its 24 Romanesque churches of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it has been called a "museum of Romanesque art". Zamora is the city with the most Romanesque churches in all of Europe. Zamora has a unique Romanesque monument, with the peculiar characteristics which is very difficult to find in other places.

Contents

Origins

'Puerta de San Andrés', medieval entrance at the village of Villalpando.

After the Roman victory over the Lusitanian hero Viriathus the settlement was named by the Romans, Occelum Durii or Ocellodurum (literally, "Eye of the Duero"). During Roman rule it was in the hands of the Vaccaei, and was incorporated into the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis. It was on the road from Emerita (modern Mérida) to Asturica Augusta (modern Astorga). (Ant. Itin. pp. 434, 439).

Two coins from the reign of the Visigothic king, Sisebuto, show that it was known at the time as "Semure".

During the period of Moorish rule the settlement became known by the names of "Semurah" or "Azemur". After the establishment of the Christian Kingdom of Asturias, the settlement became a strategic frontier post and was the scene of many fierce military engagements between the Muslims and Christians. Control of the town shifted between between the two sides a number of times from the early eighth century to the late eleventh centuriy. During this period it became heavily fortified.

Henry IV granted Zamora the epithet of "most noble and most loyal city".

History

Dome of the Cathedral.
Romanesque entrance to the Cathedral (12th century).

The most notable historic episode in Zamora was the assassination outside the city walls of the king Sancho II of Castile in 1072. Some decades before, king Ferdinand I of León had divided his kingdoms between his three sons. To his daughter, Doña Urraca, he had bequeathed the "well fortified city of Zamora" (or "la bien cercada" in Spanish). All three sons warred among themselves, till the ultimate winner, Sancho, was left victorious. Zamora, under his sister who was allied with Leonese nobles, resisted. Sancho II of Castile, assisted by El Cid, lay siege to Zamora. King Sancho II was murdered by a duplicitous noble of Zamora, Bellido Dolfos, who tricked the king into a private meeting. After the death of Sancho, Castile reverted to his deposed brother Alfonso VI of León. The event was commemorated by the Portillo de la Traición (Treason Gate). Zamora was also the scene of fierce fighting in the fifteenth century, during the conflict between the supporters of Isabella the Catholic and Juana la Beltraneja. The Spanish proverb, No se ganó Zamora en una hora, literally, Zamora wasn't won in an hour, is a reference to these battles. It is the Spanish equivalent of the English proverb "Rome wasn't built in a day."

During the twelfth century, the city was extraordinarily important for its strategic position in the wars between the Kingdom of León and Arabs to conquer the Iberian Peninsula. As a result, the city preserves many churches and buildings from that time. In the next centuries, the city lost its political and economic relevance and suffered emigration, especially to South America (where many other cities called Zamora were founded).

Language

Zamora City Council promotes Spanish language courses for foreigners.

Population

It has about 67,164 inhabitants, a number which is decreasing owing to lack of investment in the region.

Climate

Climate chart of Zamora (Observatory)

Zamora has a continental Mediterranean climate, with cold winters and hot summers. Precipitation is mainly recorded in two seasons, spring and autumn, being summer characterized by droughts. The highest temperature ever recorded is 41.0°C on 24 July 1995 while the minimum stood at -13.4°C on 16 January 1945.

Fog occurring frequently over the winter period, often lasting for days, has tended to lower the average temperature.

Weather data for Zamora
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.9
(46)
11.4
(53)
14.7
(58)
16.3
(61)
20.2
(68)
25.5
(78)
29.6
(85)
29.1
(84)
25.2
(77)
18.6
(65)
12.6
(55)
9.0
(48)
18.3
(65)
Average low °C (°F) 0.6
(33)
1.8
(35)
3.1
(38)
5.0
(41)
8.3
(47)
11.8
(53)
14.6
(58)
14.5
(58)
11.9
(53)
7.9
(46)
3.9
(39)
2.0
(36)
7.1
(45)
Precipitation mm (inches) 34
(1.34)
28
(1.1)
18
(0.71)
36
(1.42)
42
(1.65)
30
(1.18)
15
(0.59)
13
(0.51)
22
(0.87)
38
(1.5)
42
(1.65)
44
(1.73)
363
(14.29)
Source: Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMet)[1]

Notable locals

Medieval bridge over river Duero.
  • Leopoldo Alas, also known as "Clarín" was a Spanish novelist born in Zamora. A street in Zamora is named after him.
  • Ángel Nieto: multi-time (or '12+1' as he puts it himself) Grand Prix motorcycle road racing World Champion. He is considered a national hero in his Spanish homeland. The local sports centre is named after him. Some sources mistakenly refer to him as being born in Madrid.
  • Agustín Remesal: Journalist working as a TVE correspondent. Also writer.
  • Ramón Álvarez: Born in Zamora. Author of many of the figures or 'pasos' carried through its streets during the Holy Week.
  • Emiliano Merchán: multi-time world champion in canoeing
  • Carlos Llamas: national radio news presenter, died October 10, 2007[2].

Tourism in Zamora

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City of Zamora

Torre del Salvador.
San Juan de Puerta Nueva Church.
San Isidoro Church.
Magdalena Church.
  • Cathedral: Romanesque, dating back to the twelfth century, taking only 23 years to build.
  • Castle: Built in the Middle Ages, offering magnificent views of the city.
  • Parador de Zamora: The Palacio de los Condes de Alba y Aliste was built in 1459 by the first Count of Alva y Aliste. Boasts a magnificent patio and staircase decorated with Lombardy carvings.
  • Calle Balborraz: Europa Nostra Prize.
  • Church of the Magdalena: The southern façade is Romanesque dating back to the thirteenth century;
  • Church of San Claudio de Olivares (twelfth century carvings on the columns);
  • Church of San Juan de Puerta Nueva (twelfth century stained glass circular window, symbol of Zamora);
  • Church of Santa María la Nueva (twelfth century, baptistery dating back to the thirteenth century).
  • Church of Santiago (St James) de los Caballeros (twelfth century, simple Romanesque style) in which the Cid was created knight
  • Church of Santiago El Burgo (Southern façade, twelfth century Romanesque)
  • City walls: three walled enclosures dating back to the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
  • Museo de Semana Santa de Zamora: Opposite the Church of Santa María la Nueva, dedicated to Semana Santa de Zamora the processions during which are celebrated with particular ceremony in Zamora. The museum holds a large collection of pasos, the figures which are carried in procession through the streets by various 'cofradías' or brotherhoods.

Surroundings

  • Arcenillas church (fifteenth century panels)
  • Hiniesta church (Gothic, sculptures and murals)
  • The Church of San Pedro de la Nave, (village of El Campillo - 12 km distant) was founded in the seventh century, rebuilt in the twelfth century, and is one of the three best-preserved Visigothic churches in all of Spain. It was moved stone by stone and then re-erected, owing to the construction of a reservoir on its original site.

Zamora province

  • Benavente: 70 km north from the capital. Santa María church and Castle of La Mota (now the Parador of Benavente). The parador 'Fernando II de Leon' as it is called occupies the castle- palace built in the twelfth century and is part of the former walled enclosure of the town. It was named to honour Ferdinand II as the founder of the town.
  • Toro, 39 km away from Zamora. Historic and Artistic centre, churches, palaces, monasteries... with monuments such as the façade of the 'Palacio de las Leyes' and also the famous Santa María la Mayor collegiate church (known in Spanish as 'La Colegiata'). Its wines were the first to be taken to America by Christopher Columbus.
  • Sanabria: on the border with Galicia. Declared a Historic and Artistic centre and set within the countryside near the Sanabria lake. There are a number of attractive bed and breakfast places to stay in (known in Spain as 'Casas Rurales') and also the Sanabria Parador.
  • Fermoselle: on the border with Portugal and on the edge of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park: an attractive place with less than 100 inhabitants where a traditional way of life still exists. Try the beef (locally reared), goat's cheese, cold meats...a place to stay is the Sayago Parador. The Arribes feature a hunting reserve in the Culebra mountain range (with the highest population of wolves in the whole of Europe). Accessible for visit either travelling by land or on the river by taking a boat excursion from Miranda do Douro lasting about an hour).
  • Villafáfila: The lakes, in ancient times beaches, still retain the sand and fossils. An authentic paradise for European birds. The second largest water reserve in Spain after Doñana.

Cuisine

The covered market.

The excellent raw materials used in cuisine from this province really stand out. The pulses, the famous chickpeas from Fuentesauco or 'garbanzos', the exquisite cheese made from sheep's milk, honey from Sanabria, asparagus from Guareña, peppers from Benavente, steak from Aliste, mushrooms, game, cold meats, cakes and sweets... Apart from the tasty roasts, also worth tasting are the rice dishes from Zamora and the Toro wines (very dark, almost black, nowadays made using modern techniques - with a rapidly growing reputation for their taste and quality). Traditional dishes include bacalao a la tranca (a cod dish), el pulpo a la sanabresa (an octopus dish), dos y pingada (two fried eggs with fried ham, usually served in Easter) and '"presas de ternera" (a veal dish). For dessert there is the rebojo Zamorano, a very tasty though hard type of bun, and "las natillas almendradas" (Spanish style custard with almonds).

Sister cities

References

Citations

External links

Coordinates: 41°30′N 5°45′W / 41.5°N 5.75°W / 41.5; -5.75


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Zamora is a city in Castile-Leon, Spain.

The town of Zamora lies on a rocky hill in the northwest of Spain, near the frontier with Portugal and is crossed by the Duero river, which some 50km/30mi downstream reaches the Portuguese frontier. With its 24 Romanesque churches of the 12th and 13th centuries it has been called a "museum of Romanesque art".

Get in

By Plane

The nearest commercial airport is Villanubla, located just a few kilometres out of Valladolid, the capital of the Castile-Leon region. Valladolid lies some 90 kilometres from Zamora. This small airport is served by flights run by Iberia, Air France and Ryanair. The low-cost carrier travels to and from London-Stansted airport, Brussels-Charleroi airport and Milan-Malpensa.

By Road

Long forgotten by all governments, no highways connected other capitals to Zamora until a few years ago. It is now possible to get to/from Valladolid (and therefore Madrid). The construction of other highways linking the town with Benavente, its neighbour Salamanca, etc. are now underway.

Get around

The city is not too big to see on foot, especially the main attractions, which are fairly close to one another. For slightly longer journeys there are two taxi companies, and several bus routes - tickets are cheap, and you can buy them directly from the driver on board or for longer stays get a travelcard from one of the branches of the bank Caja Duero.

There is also a good bus service to Salamanca, Valladolid and Madrid among other destinations.

See

A wise stop before going sightseeing would be the local Oficina de Turismo, located halfway in one of the main arteries of Zamora, Tres Cruces Avenue. Hard to miss, as it's opposite the beautiful Caja Duero's Bank main office. You can get free posters and maps of the town, province, etc as well as directions and suggestions on where to go and what to visit. Contact details:

Oficina Municipal de Información Turística Plaza Arias Gonzalo Tel. and Fax: +34 980 53 36 94 E-mail: oficinaturismo@ayto-zamora.org

  • Catedral de Zamora: Romanesque dating back to the 12th century, taking only 23 years to build.
  • Castillo de Zamora: Built in the Middle Ages, offering magnificent views of the city.
  • San Juan de Puerta Nueva church (12th century, featuring a stained glass circular window, symbol of Zamora);
  • San Claudio de Olivares church (12th century carvings on the columns);
  • Museo de Semana Santa de Zamora: Opposite the Santa María la Nueva church, devoted to the Semana Santa de Zamora processions which are celebrated with particular ceremony in Zamora. The museum displays a large collection of pasos, the figures which are carried in procession through the streets by various 'cofradías' or brotherhoods.

For further information and pictures, check out the English Wikipage on Zamora.

  • Have a picture of you taken at the statue of local hero Viriato in Viriathus Square, near the Parador. Pretend to or sit on the ram /tup or carnero below.
  • The Miradores situated on the historic centre provide an excellent spot for photographers wanting to take their own postcard-quality picture of the Roman Bridge. Another must-spot for picture taking is the River Walk, with some of the best views of popular monuments like the Cathedral or the Bridge.
  • Pretend to be a local and get some fresh air, play basketball or ride your bike at Bosque de Valorio (Valorio Woods). The Burgos-native naturalist Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente is remembered with a statue in the small pond.

Learn

The combination of Castile-Leon's reputation for pure Spanish and nearby Salamanca's reputation of learning due to its respected university, makes Zamora an excellent place to inmmerse yourself in the culture and improve your Spanish. A little fluency in Spanish will get you a long way, as you should only expect English in tourist places like the Parador and other 4-star hotels. If you're eating out, fitting a basic Spanish-English dictionary into your bag would be an excellent idea.

Buy

As the local saying goes: "Zamora no se ganó en una hora" (Zamora was not conquered in an hour) so forget your car and take a stroll around Zamora. Shopping areas are mainly centred on Tres Cruces Avenue, Santa Clara Street and parallel-running San Torcuato. If you prefer Malls, the biggest one is the Centro Comercial Valderaduey, named after one the local rivers or as it is known by locals, Eroski. The other one is called 'Vía de la Plata'. Almost all shops in town accept major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Spanish 4-B and 6000). There are plenty of Cajeros Automáticos or ATMs scattered around town. Most ATMs will allow you to withdraw money with your credit card, but you'll need to know your card's PIN for that. Notice many stores will ask for your passport, driving license or ID card before accepting your credit card. Although somewhat awkward for people from Eurozone countries that do not have an ID Card, this measure helps avoid credit card robbery and fraud.

Typical souvenirs include items featuring elements from Semana Santa or Easter. Local wines and cheese, as well as chickpeas from Fuentesaúco always make a good buy. If you're more into the vintage-style buying, check out the weekly mercadillo, a street market held every Tuesday morning. The traditional site was just outside the Train Station, now moved to the parking lot of the Football Stadium Vía de la Plata (either a good 30 minute walk from downtown Zamora or one of the only occasions where local transport would be worth it). The mercadillo is set to return to its original location outside the Estación del Ferrocarril, but no deadline has been given as of May 2007.

If you happen to visit Zamora at the end of June, pottery would make an excellent souvenir too, as Viriathus Square is filled with stands from all over the country selling their creations. You can find items both for everyday use and for display. The 'big day' of the San Pedro festivity is June 29th. You can buy some of these products and other souvenirs, cheese or wine at the store Aperos y Viandas (literally "Farming implements and Food") which is on the way to the Cathedral or at some the shops in and around Ramos Carrión Square. These cater especially for tourists, but you can find many local products -especially wine-at any supermarket (Mercadona, El Arbol, Eroski, etc).

Eat

The excellent raw materials used in the local cuisine really stand out. Staple ingredients include the pulses, the famous chickpeas from Fuentesauco or 'garbanzos', the exquisite cheese made from sheep´s milk, honey from Sanabria, asparagus from Guareña, peppers from Benavente, steak from Aliste, mushrooms, game, cold meats, cakes and sweets... Apart from the tasty roasts, also worth tasting are the rice dishes from Zamora. Traditional dishes include bacalao a la tranca (a cod dish), el pulpo a la sanabresa (an octopus dish), dos y pingada (two fried eggs with fried ham, usually served in Easter) and '"presas de ternera" (a veal dish). For dessert there is the rebojo Zamorano, a very tasty though hard type of bun, and "las natillas almendradas" (Spanish style custard with almonds).

In general, tipping is not always expected but always appreciated. There's not a fixed rate, just leave the spare change or a few euros, depending on where you eat. There are several quality restaurants can be found in Zamora. Just to name a few:

  • Restaurante París: Excellent value for money. A plentiful three-course meal will run you on €35. This elegant establishment is located on Avenida de Portugal, near the Parque de la Marina and features a well-kept greenhouse. Excellent seafood, not only serving traditional dishes like bacalao a la tranca but also international delights like a too-good-to-be-true lobster salad or Ensalada de Bogavante. Skip your diet and top your meal off with the Teja de la Casa dessert, a thin almond and caramel cookie, accompanied by custard, ice-cream, etc. Tel: +34 980 51 22 81
  • Restaurante Sancho 2: Also located in the heart of town, this is a popular place where locals celebrate company dinners, weddings and such. It went through an extensive renovation a couple of years ago. Another fine example blending local tradition and international culinary trends. Tel: +34 980 52 60 54.
  • Restaurante Capitol: Near the main monuments and the Town Hall Sq. Tel: + 34 51 88 81.
  • Hostal/Restaurante Jarama: A bit off the tourist areas. The three-course menu will run you on €10. Popular with local workers and kids celebrating their football victories during the weekend.
  • Restaurante Gofer's: This self-service place will cost you around €8.
  • Telepizza: The only outlet of the Spanish pizza giant. Near the Plaza de la Marina. Tel: +34 980 51 44 00
  • McDonalds: Only one, at Eroski shopping centre.
  • Burger King: Only one, can be accessed both off the Bus Station or Avenida de Cardenal Cisneros.
  • Döner Kebab: The best is in Calle Amargura, called Burger Zafiro. Another one is soon to be opened outside the Bus Station, near Burger King.
  • Several bars offer a set menu, usually under €10. It is either a three-course meal or a plato combinado, that is a fish or meat dish, served with a salad or french fries/chips. A much better alternative to fast-food chains.

Tapa culture in Zamora is deeply-rooted. To further promote it, the contest De Tapas por Zamora was established in 2006 and is held in May-June. Participating bars create an appetizer or tapa for €1 especially for this contest, and locals have to choose a winner while entering a raffle sponsored by local businesses.

Spanish site for the Yearly Tapas Festival.

The best-known tapa in town is the pincho moruno, grilled pork meat with herbs on a skewer, served at Bar Lobo, between San Torcuato Street and Tres Cruces Avenue. It has the ability of drawing people from all over the country merely to get a taste of it.

Another excellent stop would be Dolfos, with both loads of sweet and sour options to choose from. Just mind the steep flight of stairs on the way in/out.

Drink

The Toro wines (very dark, almost black, nowadays made using modern techniques - with a rapidly growing reputation for their taste and quality). Popular local brands include Colegiata, Bajoz and Fariña.

Online Spanish-language store for Vinos de Toro.

Sleep

The city has 18 hotels, 4 of them in the four-star range.

  • Parador Nacional de Turismo Condes de Alba y Aliste, at the historical centre of the city, in Plaza de Viriato, near the Cathedral, Tel: +34 980 514 497. The building dates to the mid 15th century. This four-star accommodation boasts two conference halls, an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by greenery and a restaurant serving traditional local cuisine. Its 52 rooms are fitted with A/C, a safebox and minibar, among others.
  • Hotel Dos Infantas, Tel: +34 980 509 898. This 4-star hotel is situated only a few steps from one of the main (if not the main) streets in Zamora, Santa Clara Avenue, full of shops suitable for all budgets. It was fully renovated in 2001 and its 68 rooms offer all the services expected in a top-quality accommodation.
  • Hotel Meliá Horus,Tel: +34 980 508 282. Located in a pedestrians-only area of Zamora, this 4-star hotel is located just outside the traditional local market, the Mercado de Abastos. It has a total of 45 rooms (7 of which are junior suites), with all the services expected in a top-quality accommodation.
  • Hotel AC Zamora: Another hotel offering 4-star accommodation. It is situated in the University district, only a few minutes from both the Bus and Train Station. Hotel AC was the last hotel to be built in the city, offering 75 rooms and a fitness center equipped with a Turkish bath ideal to relax from an exhausting morning of sightseeing. Tel: +34 980 557 940
  • Hotel NH Palacio del Duero, Tel.: +34.98.0508262 (Fax: +34.98.0533722 E-mail: nhpalaciodelduero@nh-hotels.com). Situated in the artistic centre of the town, just by the river Duero and next to the Romanesque Church of Santa María de Horta. It was built on the remains of an old Convent of the order of Jerusalem erected in the 14th-15th century and an old wine factory. Some of the equipment used and features of the convent can be seen on the entrance to the restaurant, where you can indulge in an impressive three course menu for €20, except on Saturday nights.

If you don't mind driving a bit, you can book a room at Hotel Convento I, a four-star accommodation in the nearby village of Coreses, Tel: +34 980 500 422. Experience the second-most luxurious hotel in Spain. Halls are decorated with paintings and furniture recovered from castles, convents, etc. One of them features a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, Rome (Italy). Spa facilities have been recently added to the complex. Don't be surprised if you find yourself having lunch next to a Spanish celebrity there.

Stay safe

Zamora is one of the most quiet and safest places in Spain. Beware of pickpockets at street markets, long queues, etc and do not flash too much cash, fancy mobile phones, expensive jewelry, etc. Do not walk alone in poorly lit areas, parks or near Valorio at night. To sum up, use your common sense or as you would when travelling.

In the health department, the town of Zamora is served by two well-equipped public or state-owned hospitals: the Hospital Virgen de la Concha or "El Clínico" to locals. It is now undergoing a comprehensive reform, since it was built during the Franco Regime, that is, some 50 years ago. Works are expected to end in 2008. The second, smaller hospital is the Hospital Rodríguez Chamorro or "El Provincial" to locals. It is also being reestructured. For first-aid you could also go to the nearest Centro de Salud or Clinic. Though well-equipped and attended by very professional staff, some patients requiring complicated treatment are tranferred to hospitals in Salamanca, Valladolid and Madrid. If you are a EU citizen, always obtain your E-111 form before you leave. Be respectful and patient with queues, as most hospitals in Spain are understaffed.

Tap water is generally safe to drink, but not particularly good. It is considered hard water or "agua dura", so if you don't like the taste, you can always buy agua embotellada. Popular bottled water brands include: Lanjarón, Fontvella, etc. The province is from time to time subject to draughts and the subsequent water restrictions, but these rarely affect the capital.

Dial 112 for emergency services like ambulances, fire brigade and police.

As in the rest of Spain, medicines (not even aspirins) are not sold at supermarkets, they're sold at 'farmacias' (chemist's), identified with a green cross or a Hygeia's cup. Opening times are something like 9-14.00 AM and 17.30-20.30 PM. If that particular farmacia is closed, look for a sign indicating the nearest 'farmacia de guardia' or on-duty chemist's. Their staff is made up of well-trained professionals and will provide proper advice on minor ailments. Should you require specific treatment, always go to the nearest hospital.

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