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The town of Zamora in the Castile-Leon province of Spain is considered a ‘Romanesque Museum’ thanks to its wealth of Romanesque buildings and monuments that smatter the landscape. These architectural wonders have been well-preserved to make Zamora an important stop on the Romanesque route through Spain and Portugal. I was lucky enough to discover Zamora on my Explore The Romanesque Route tour with Transromanica and have written this list of the top things to do in Zamora to help you plan a trip to this fascinating Spanish town.
Top 9 Things To Do In Zamora, Spain
1. Castle of Zamora
The Castle of Zamora is a grand fortress that lies in the heart of the town and is an interesting work of Romanesque architecture. Visitors benefit from free entrance into the castle while an additional guided tour allows you to discover the history of the building and its importance in the region. The castle has been used as many things as well as a fortress, such as a prison, a court of justice and is now home to a range of modern sculptures.
Zamora Castle is also a wonderful place to go to enjoy fantastic views of the Duero Valley and the nearby cathedral, another impressive building for which Zamora is famous.
2. Puente de Piedra
The picturesque Puente de Piedra bridge has connected Zamora with towns to the south of the Duero River for over 800 years and has been a favourite focal point of the town for both locals and visitors alike. The arched bridge can be seen from around the city, with especially good views coming from the top of the Zamora Castle. If you have the chance to visit the Puente de Piedra on a still, clear day, you’re likely to be graced with picture-perfect reflections of the bridge in the river!
3. Museo Baltasar Lobo
The Museo Baltasar Lobo houses a collection of sculpture, paintings and photographs by Spanish artist, Baltasar Lobo, many of which focus on the female form, particularly that of the mother. Baltasar Lobo was born in Zamora and the locals are therefore very proud of his works. The museum is located in the Baltasar Lobo contemporary art centre in the Plaza de la Catedral, next to the Zamora Castle, so you can easily pop in to see some of the artwork during your day exploring some of the main city sights.
4. Cathedral of Zamora
The Cathedral of Zamora is probably one of the most notable sights in the town of Zamora and is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the region. Built between 1151 and 1174, the Cathedral of Zamora features Romanesque, Gothic and Herrera designs, including apses, sanctuaries, cloisters, three naves and a dome.
The dome is perhaps the most recognisable feature of the cathedral, with 16 arches supporting the base of the dome. This dome makes the Zamora Cathedral stand out against other architectural designs in the region and is therefore a must for those interested in this Romanesque style.
5. Iglesia de San Pedro y San Ildefonso
The Iglesia de San Pedro y San Ildefonso (Church of San Isidoro) is a (mainly) Romanesque church built in the centre of Zamora in the 12th century. The Church of San Isidoro has undergone various architectural renovations in its history, with Visigothic, Romanesque and Baroque styles merging to create what is seen on site today.
Some of the most important Romanesque features include the south wall, the semi-circular central apse and parts of the north wall, as well as a tower which has been adorned with Baroque sculptures of San Pedro. Inside, the church boasts the Chapel of the Immaculate which features a gold-leaf altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
6. Souvenir Shopping
When you’ve seen some of the main sights of Zamora you might want to enjoy a spot of souvenir shopping in the town. Zamora is home to a number of quaint shops selling local handicrafts as well as books, clothes, ceramics and artisanal food and drink.
7. Balboraz Street
Another popular option for things to do in Zamora is to walk along and photograph the picturesque Balboraz Street. This colourful, balcony-lined street allows you to enjoy loads of different architectural and design styles in one place and a postcard of this beautiful street is a lovely souvenir of your time in Zamora.
8. Santa Maria Magdalena Church
The Santa María Magdalena de Zamora is a relatively small yet grand Romanesque church of the Templars that was built in the 12th century. The church has a fairly rustic style, with simple interiors but features such as the rose window and the intricately-detailed door arch make it well worth a visit.
Many architecture-admirers consider Santa María Magdalena de Zamora to be one of the most beautiful works of Romanesque design in the city and as it is located on one of the main drifts (Calle Rúa los Francos) it is a must for visitors exploring Zamora.
9. Town Hall Square
Zamora’s Plaza Mayor (or Main Square) is a true highlight of the city, with both the old and new Town Halls being top sights to see when visiting. The Old Town Hall is located in the south of the square and features an arched facade with simple stone walls and a range of flags gracing the front. The New Town Hall is situated on the northern side of the square and features red brick, arches, a clock and a bell tower. The Plaza Mayor is also home to the church of San Juan de Puerta Nueva on the west side which is another example of Romanesque architecture in the city.
Top Things To Do Near Zamora, Spain
San Pedro de la Nave
If you have time to explore more sights around Zamora, you may want to visit the church of San Pedro de la Nave in the town of El Campillo. This early Medieval church has quite a history, with it originally having been built on the banks of the river Esla before being moved, stone by stone, to its current location to avoid flooding and submersion! The old stone walls and terracotta roof makes for a picturesque church, as does its quiet, countryside location.
Camino de Santiago
One of the reasons many people visit the Romanesque town of Zamora is because it is a stop on the famous pilgrimage route the Camino de Santiago. Zamora is often an overnight stop for pilgrims heading to Compostela, with hostels, restaurants and tours available for those who want to discover Zamora during their trail.
Best Time To Visit Zamora
Semana Santa in Zamora
If you’re at all interested in the religious side of this Romanesque town, you might want to visit Zamora during Semana Santa or Holy Week. This is the week leading up to Easter when local churches and brotherhoods commemorate the Passion of Jesus Christ. Semana Santa celebrations have taken place in Zamora since the 13th century, with bands, floats, processions and services all playing a vital role in the austere yet important festival.
So, there you have it, the top things to see and do in and around Zamora, Spain. This picturesque town is a hub of historical, cultural and religious sites that are well worth seeing whether you are visiting on a day trip, for a weekend break or as a stopover on your walk of the Camino de Santiago!
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I was a guest of Transromanica but as always opinions are my own.