The Medieval Town of La Alberca, Espana

I recently blogged about my adventure when I participated in “Pueblo Ingles.” I reserved my comments in that blog to my observations about the English immersion program and the students. However, there is more to my story about the nearby medieval Spanish town of La Alberca. This blog entry is about my exploration of that tiny Spanish town and my adventure there.

Buildings at Plaza Mayor, La Alberca

Located at an elevation of 1084 meters, the town with a population of around 1100 is rather isolated in La Sierra de Francia mountains close to the northern border with Portugal. The principle product in this region is delicious Iberian Jamon (ham) which is produced in the area from black Iberian pigs that grow fat eating acorns. This diet gives the ham a very special, enjoyable flavor that is savored by Spaniards as well as those from around the world who are fortunate to experience it. Hams are seen in several shops in La Alberca hanging from the ceilings.

During my explorations of Spain I have visited several Spanish communities and blogged about Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Canary Islands, and Mijas Pueblo. As I walked the narrow cobblestone streets of La Alberca I was taken aback by the distinctive architecture of this community in comparison to the others I mentioned. While Cordoba and Granada are colorful and reflective of an integration of Moorish design and Mijas is a spectacular white, traditional Spanish pueblo, La Alberca, founded in the 1300’s, is dark and has a somewhat French feel. It is one of the best preserved Spanish towns of the period.

Hams hanging from ceiling

The half timbered buildings surrounding the Plaza Mayor and nearby narrow streets and alleyways are different as their materials come from  the quarries and forests of the mountains. The town goes to great lengths to retain its medieval charm.

Knight Templar Symbol

The Knights Templar had a presence in La Alberca. Today there are myths and legends about the “monk soldiers” who participated in the crusades and provided safe passage for pilgrims to the holy land. On the Iberian peninsula they also created a strong trading infrastructure, a banking system, and fought for the Spanish kings in the reconquest of Spain from the Muslims.

A tavern in La Alberca

The town of La Alberca has a tourist interest as it is preserved in its architecture, food, and customs. For those exploring Spain it is a welcome transition into the Middle Ages from the modern communities of Spain and Portugal.

The next stop in my exploration adventure is Romania where I will be searching for Dracula. Stay tuned!

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My Day Trip Adventure to Ronda, Espana

A day trip to beautiful Ronda is a “must do” when in southern Spain!

While in southern Spain I have ventured to several nearby places. Previously I have mentioned my day trip to Gibraltar and in this post I am going to write about my journey to Ronda.

Ronda is only a short bus or train ride away and I went by bus on a small group tour. The town is high in the mountains and there are plenty of twists and turns to get there. Like so much of Spain, there is a great deal of history and different cultural communities associated with Ronda. It dates toWells prehistoric times and has seen settlement by the Celts, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, and Spanish. Today’s architecture reflects the influence of Arabs and Spanish.

Earnest Hemingway and Orson Wells lived portions of their lives in Ronda and Wells is buried there. Although these individuals are well known for their literary and theatrical contributions, the town of 35,000 and the country have been heavily influenced by bull fighting and is reported to be the home of the sport. Outside Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is a statue honoring the most famous matador, Pedro Romero Martinez, who allegedly fought 5558 bulls without IMG_0802being seriously injured!  Across Spain are 30 foot high monuments to bulls and the sport as seen in the photo.

Of the most famous of landmarks in Ronda, though, is the Puente Nuevo or the “New Bridge.” The name is misleading as the New Bridge construction began in 1751 and was completed in 1793. This massive structure is about 390 feet above the canyon floor and connects the two parts of Ronda. In the photo, can you see the people standing on top? The bridge not only connects the town but also was a part of the IMG_0882judicial system in Ronda where once found guilty of a capital offense, the guilty party was quickly tossed over the edge to his death.

Ronda is a beautiful town but does have a large number of tourists in it. I love Ronda, the sites and the food. There are places to eat everywhere and serve a variety of dishes from all over the world.