In north-central Spain the Duero river flows through a valley of limestone soils where some of Spain's finest wines have taken root. The Ribera del Duero wine region counts over 200 bodegas scattered across its territory, and in the middle of them is Peñafiel.
Perched on a cliff above the city and the Duero is the impressive Castle Peñafiel. At 210 meters long and only 35 meters wide it would resemble a ship if you could see it from above. The castle was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt several times, the walls and towers were constructed in the 13th-14th centuries, the keep is from the 15th. It has a double defensive wall.
The town has some prehistoric remains, but it was during the Reconquest when most of the urban center was settled at the base of a previous fortress on the site of Peñafiel's current castle. During the tenth century, Penna Fidele became a famous stronghold against Islam by virtue of its position along the frontier lands separating the Christian north and Muslim south.
Peñafiel is located between the towns of Valladolid and Zaragoza on the N122. It is west of the N1-E5 highway that runs north from Madrid. It's in the Castilla y León region in the Valladolid province.
Penafiel is on the Coria - Salamanca - Soria - Zaragoza - Barcelona Train Line. There are buses to and from Madrid, Valladolid, and Aranda. (See a Spain Rail Map.)
The Castle: The castle on the highest point of Peñafiel was built in 1013 as defence against the Arabs. From above it looks like a sleek boat; it's a bit over 140 meters long and about 10 meters wide. The Museo Provincial del Vino wine museum is inside.
The Archeological Museum, where you can see the life of the pre-roman inhabitants of the area.
'Casa de la Ribera is an example of the traditional architecture of Castile. It's found in the Plaza del Concejillo, showing how people lived in the early 1900's in this part of Spain.
Plaza del Coso was declared a Heritage of Cultural Interest in 1999. The medieval square consists of a bullfighting ring surrounded by medieval houses with balconies overlooking the plaza.
The square is surrounded by 48 two- and three-floor private homes constructed in adobe, stone and wood, composing a rectangular space with two access points, one to the North and another to the West. The buildings that surround Plaza del Coso boast wooden balconies that are heavily decorated with motifs including leaves, flowers and fruits. During the Festivities of Nuestra Señora and San Roque, the balconies become boxes from which owners with viewing rights can watch bullfighting festivities. -- Plaza del Coso
Wine lovers will want to take a trip to one or two of the bodegas to taste a Ribera del Duero wine or two. Here is a list of nearby wineries.
We stayed at the Hotel Ribera del Duero, a fine hotel overlooking the castle with restaurant and bar. Double rooms with air conditioning went for less than 70 Euros.
IYou can find user-rated hotels and apartments in and around Penafiel at Booking.com
Most of the restaurants in Peñafiel have a traditional roasting oven called the Horno Asador. It differs from other ovens made of firebrick, which provide way too intense of a heat for the delicate meats the Horno Asador was designed to cook. They're made instead from roofing tiles or adobe. Baby lambs, suckling pigs and fowl are seasoned and placed in an earthenware dish with a little water and roasted slowly for several hours. What comes out is an incredibly tender flesh that doesn't need a knife to be cut.
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