Have you ever wanted to sleep in a castle? Perhaps by a stormy sea or by the edge of a gorge, walking the halls, and living its mysteries? Then spending time in a parador may just be for you.
Travelers throughout Spain have stayed in these hotels, located in former monasteries, fortresses, or castles. They can be found from Galicia in the North West through Catalonia, to Andalusia in the south of Spain, the Canary Islands and even the Spanish cities in North Africa.
The paradores hotels were created by the Spanish government of of King Alfonso XIII in the 1920s to save the local historical structures from ruin. And while they are old in years they are modern in amenities and service. Even better, as a Spanish state-run initiative, they are also very affordable.
Paradores are typically one of a kind and locally owned, steeped in history and charm, and are a great way to become acquainted with the local customs and traditions.
Some are located in the heart of a bustling city such as the Parador de Ronda in Andalusia. High on a plateau on the edge of the Ronda Gorge it is what used to be the former town hall and is perched on the edge of a cliff near the famous Ronda bridge built in 1751.
Head north to the Galacia region to the Parador Santiago de Compostela. Said to be the oldest hotel in the world it was originally a Royal Hospital and dates back to 1499. It is also said to be one of the most luxurious in the world.
Northwest of Seville is the Parador de Zafra, constructed in 1437 as a residence for the Duchess of Feri. It is in the center of the lovely town of Zafra and is highlighted by nine battlemented towers.
Parador de Cuenca in the walled city of Cuenca. Once a Dominican convent, this 16th-century building, features balconies that jut over rocky cliffs, overlooking swift-moving rivers below.
The paradores are a wonderful way to get a true Spanish experience, so if you crave a bit more history, local cuisine and culture, and a leisurely tour of the Spanish countryside perhaps a parador is for you.