Parador de Benavente
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- Single rooms (2)
- Twin rooms (28)
- Capacity (58)
- Conference room
- Air conditioned bedrooms
- Canal plus
- Credit cards
- Currency exchange
- Airport (110km)
- Station (70km)
- Port (195km)
Parador de Benavente - Medieval castle (4*)
Benavente’s Parador is named after Ferdinand II, the 12th-century king of León who built the original castle. Much of the old castle was destroyed by Napoleon in 1808, but the 16th-century Caracol Tower, an imposing castle-palace that dominates the town, survived, and forms part of the Parador which was opened in 1972.
The building is noted for its coffered ceilings and Castilian brickwork, while old paintings, rugs, wooden floors and iron lamp fittings have enhanced the historic atmosphere. The bedrooms are large and decorated in a classical style, yet still light with large windows. Many benefit from balconies and views over the Parador’s lovely gardens.
A grassy sun terrace flanks the seasonal outdoor swimming pool where guests can relax amongst the surrounding greenery.
The restaurant has a banquet-hall feel to it, keeping in tune with the Parador de Benavente’s history. In the restaurant you may sample such dishes as Bacalao a la tranca (salt cod served with roasted red peppers), Perdiz estofada al modo de la Tierra de Campo (partridge casseroled with onion, bacon and wine) and Florón Castellano (a flower-shaped pastry).
The old town of Benavente is one of the key historical settlements in Zamora. Originally occupied by the Swabians during the Roman Empire, it became a centre for minting coins. The most prominent aspect of the town is the Caracol Tower, a 15th century structure that forms part of the Parador de Benavente, and is all that remains of the medieval Castle-Palace that once stood in the Parador’s place.
The construction of the castle was commissioned in the 12th century by Ferdinand II of León (the Parador’s namesake). During this period it was used as a meeting point for the noblemen of the region to discuss serious matters. In the 15th and 16th centuries the various Counts of Benavente commissioned extensions of the castle, and it became a Castle-Palace, one of the most celebrated throughout Spain. Through subsequent wars and battles, the property was severely damaged, and left in ruins by the English during the War of Independence, until all that remained was the famous Caracol Tower. The ruins were sold off during the 19th century, and the land became a source to store the surrounding village’s water-supply.
Re-built in the style of a Renaissance Castle-Palace, the Parador is now open to guests who can enjoy the historical surroundings in a luxury environment. A climb to the top of the Parador’s Caracol Tower rewards guests with spectacular views over the surrounding landscape.
Benavente itself is relatively small and as yet undiscovered by many tourists; therefore guests can take in the true beauty of this typical Castilian village. Many aspects of the local architecture are the result of a rich and fascinating history, such as La Piedad Hospital an old pilgrim’s hostel and formerly the home of a Count of Benavente who caused a scandal by hanging a man incorrectly identified as his wife’s lover for the entire village to see.
The Benavente Theatre is also a stunning architectural site. Built on the remains of the Santo Domingo Convent, it is a now a primary source of entertainment for locals. Perhaps the most prominent building in the town, besides the Parador itself, is the Santa María del Azoque Church. An imposing 13th century Romanesque structure, the church is famed for its many intricate multi-coloured doors, and features a range of impressive Gothic sculptures.
For nature-lovers, the surrounding valleys full of flora and fauna (and up to 12 different species of plants used in medicines) offer many opportunities to explore Zamora’s extensive natural beauty. The nearby Vilafáfila Nature Reserve is home to a large host of lakes and greenery.
Benavente is one of the many key stops on the Pilgrimage routes, and as such is included in three of the Parador Route itineraries: the Silver Route II (7 nights), the Kingdom of León Route (7 nights), and the Paradores 85th Anniversary Route (3 nights, limited time only).
A large car park with security barriers is situated to the front of the Parador for guest use.
Restaurant meal times & typical dishes
Breakfast is served from 7.30 to 10.30 and dinner from 20.30 to 23.00.
It may be possible to arrive up to 22.30 and still enjoy a meal.
In the restaurant you may sample such dishes as Bacalao a la tranca (salt cod served with roasted red peppers), Perdiz estofada al modo de la Tierra de Campo (partridge casseroled with onion, bacon and wine) and Florón Castellano (a flower-shaped pastry).
The Parador’s outdoor swimming pool is due to open from 10 June until 10 September 2017.
Please note the opening and closing dates will depend on the weather and availability of lifeguards.
…a lovely little historic hotel. We only stayed overnight on route to the ferryport so we didn’t explore the town, but we had a nice meal and a decent sleep here.
- R. Shennan
One allocated disabled parking space beside the entrance to the Parador. Other parking available alongside. Small ramp to bedrooms on the ground floor with their own terraces leading out to a grass area and swimming pool. Room 111 has wide door to bathroom and raised toilet and drop down bar for support. Lift to all floors. However, there are very steep stairs to the Bar and Restaurant. If you ask at Reception someone will take you through a side store room entrance with no steps. There is a very flat and pleasant promenade into the town directly from the Parador.
How to get there
The Parador is at the end of Paseo Ramón y Cajal, in the spot known as Jardines de la Mota. Located in the centre of the town, the most common access route is the A-6 motorway Madrid-A Coruña, or else from Ourense, Vigo and Pontevedra along the N-630 main road.
Zamora - 65km
Leon - 70km
Tordesillas - 82km
Puebla de Sanabria - 84km
Madrid Airport - 290km
Region & Cuisine
CASTILLA y LEON
In 1983 the existing regions of Castilla la Vieja (Old Castile) and León were united to form Castilla y León. Occupying one-fifth of the country’s territory, Castilla y León is the largest of Spain’s Autonomous Communities and comprises much of the central and northern areas of the country.
Given its size – over 94,000 square kilometres – there is naturally an enormous variety of landscape within this region with mountains of varying grandeur to the north, west and south, and woodlands and fertile river plains dominating the central area. The river Duero, Spain’s largest river and the country’s principal source of electrical power, more or less bisects the region from east to west before flowing into Portugal – where its name changes to the Douro – and reaching the Atlantic in the city of Porto. The climate of Castilla y León is ‘continental’, typically with long, hard winters contrasting with moderately warm summers.
Along with the variety of terrain, the region also maintains a tremendous variety of plant and animal life. A hardy species of oak, the holm oak which can withstand both heat and cold, is found everywhere throughout this region. Chestnuts abound in the fertile areas of the Duero and its tributaries, while forests of Scots pine predominate in the Sierra de Gredos in the south. The wildest parts of the region are home to protected endangered species like wolf and brown bear; deer and wild boar are found in the mountains in the north, and mountain goat in the Sierra de Gredos, while also to be seen in this region are the imperial eagle, the tawny vulture and the ubiquitous stork.
But if only one word could be used to describe Castilla y León it would have to be ‘monumental’. The region comprises nine provinces and the nine provincial capital cities are collectively a living museum of the history, heritage and culture not only of Castilla y Leon but, to a large extent, of Spain itself.
A brief note on some of these cities:
AVILA A medieval city, encircled by its hugely impressive and wonderfully preserved walls dating from the end of the 11th century, intimately linked to Saint Teresa and with a complex of palaces, churches, convents and monasteries.
BURGOS One of the key links in the cultural chain running the length of the Way of Saint James, Burgos was the capital of Castile during the Middle Ages. Its Gothic cathedral, the third largest in Spain, is the most important of the city’s many monuments.
LEON Another monumental city with two thousand years of history. The cathedral is considered one of the best examples of Spanish Gothic and the Cathedral Museum is one of the most comprehensive of its kind. The Parador here, a restored 16th century monastery, is itself one of the city’s most impressive monuments.
SALAMANCA A venerable city, declared by UNESCO as part of the Heritage of Mankind in recognition of its artistic legacy. Salamanca’s university, founded in 1254, is one of the oldest in the world and is no doubt responsible for Salamanca’s reputation as one of Spain’s liveliest cities. Life here revolves around the magnificent ‘Plaza Mayor’ built between 1729 and 1755 and generally recognised as the finest main square in the country.
SEGOVIA A city symbolic of the old kingdom of Castile, among Segovia’s innumerable treasures is the Castle in Spain ‘par excellence’ – the Alcazar, a medieval fortress reconstructed in 1862 after a devastating fire. The emblematic symbol of Segovia is the fantastic 2,000-year old Roman Aqueduct: 728 metres in length with 163 arches and constructed in granite blocks cut so perfectly that no mortar was needed, this is one of the best preserved monuments of Imperial Rome.
VALLADOLID The capital city of Castilla y León, Valladolid preserves some of the finest examples of Renaissance art in this region – notably the College of Santa Cruz whose library contains around 13,000 volumes printed between the 16th and 19th centuries. A university city, Valladolid enjoys the reputation as the Spanish city where the most correct Castilian (Castellano) is spoken. And for those into castles in Spain, the surrounding countryside is full of them!
The culinary tradition of Castilla y León has something for everyone, with pride of place going to roast meats prepared in traditional wood-fired brick ovens – most famously ‘cochinillo’ (suckling pig) and tender lamb. Also for non-vegetarians, Avila is known for its excellent beef and veal, Burgos for its ‘morcilla’ (blood sausage) and much of the region for its many varieties of chorizo. There is no shortage of game throughout this region either, with some less-obvious examples being quail, partridge and pigeon which provide local speciality dishes in the provinces of Valladolid, Segovia and Zamora respectively.
Pulses also figure prominently in the region’s ‘country’ cuisine in soups and stews, particularly chick-peas in Zamora, lentils in Leon and succulent ‘El Barco’ large broad beans in Avila. A wide range of artisan confectionery is very much a feature of Casytilla y León, including the ‘rosquillas ciegas’ of Palencia, the sugared almonds of Salamanca and the delicious ‘yemas de Santa Teresa’, emblematic of Avila.
To go with all this, there’s no shortage of wine from this region. Rueda, Toro and El Bierzo all produce distinctive wines of high quality, but for the very best (and unfortunately the most expensive) it has the be the ‘denominación de origen’ of Ribera del Duero, some of whose wines are nothing short of superb.
No description of Castilla and León would be complete without a mention of two of the region’s smaller towns, not least because two of Spain’s finest Paradors - in our opinion – are located there. LERMA, some 20 miles south of Burgos, is a town with great artistic heritage and a noble air exemplified by the Ducal Palace, begun in 1605 and now the Parador. And in LA GRANJA DE SAN ILDEFONSO, just 7 miles outside Segovia, is the magnificent Royal Palace of La Granja, built between in 1720 and 1735 in the style of the Palace of Versailles and with delightful French-style gardens complete with statues and fountains – a very popular place to visit for the people of nearby Madrid. The impressive Parador here, opened by King Juan Carlos in June 2007, occupies the restored 18th century royal summer residence.
Please be aware of the following:
- 'Special Offers' are subject to the availability of a number of rooms per night and/or a specific meal basis.
- Age restrictions apply to the 'Golden Days' Offer (for those aged 55 and over) and the 'Young Persons' Offer (for those aged between 18 and 30). All reservations made using these tariffs are checked upon your arrival at the Parador(s) booked to ensure that at least one person in a room qualifies for the restricted tariff. In the case that you do not qualify for the restricted tariff, the Parador will apply the standard rate without exception and you will be required to pay a supplement locally. However only one person (per room) needs to qualify for either of these two reductions.