Zamora (Spain)

Zamora is a city in Castile-Leon, Spain.

Understand

Zamora is a small and quiet town of 65,000 inhabitants located in the southeast of the province. The town of Zamora lies on a rocky hill in the northwest of Spain, near the frontier with Portugal and is crossed by the Douro river (río Duero).

Zamora is the city with the highest concentration of Romanesque art in Europe, and is therefore known as the city of romanesque. Draws particular attention to the 14 Romanesque churches in the old town (also has 23 temples municipality) and the Cathedral. Within this romanesque heritage also highlights: the castle surrounded by gardens (inside can be visited), medieval ramparts, the bridge, two palaces and nine houses.

Holy Week in Zamora is very famous. Declared of international tourist interest each year attracts a large number of visitors.

The town is within the european modernist route, has 19 buildings with clear modernist influence of catalan modernism.

By the province of Zamora passed the vía de la plata (sylver way), a millenary roman route that connects Sevilla to Gijón and also traditionally has been used as Way of St. James by pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. As this route has been increasingly more known and crowded, in Zamora, in recent years, there is a free pilgrims' hostel located next to the Church of San Cipriano for those who spend the night in the town.

Tourist offices

Get in

By car

Long forgotten by all governments, no highways connected other capitals to Zamora until a few years ago. It is now possible to get to/from Valladolid (and therefore Madrid) and Salamanca by highway. The construction of other highways linking the town with Benavente are now underway. Otherwise it is well connected by road with all surrounding capitals and villages.

By bus

There is a Bus Station from where you can take a bus to Salamanca, Valladolid, Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Sevilla and many other cities of Spain and Portugal.

By train

Zamora has a nice Train Station with two lines:

By plane

The nearest commercial airport is Villanubla, located just a few kilometres out of Valladolid, the capital of the Castile-Leon region. Valladolid lies some 90 kilometres from Zamora (one hour and quarter by bus). This small airport is served by flights run by Iberia, Air France and Ryanair. The low-cost carrier travels to and from London-Stansted airport, Brussels-Charleroi airport and Milan-Malpensa.

Madrid airport is relatively close to Zamora (3 hours by bus) and is much better connected to European destinations and the rest of the world.

Get around

The city is not too big to see on foot, especially the main attractions, which are fairly close to one another. For slightly longer journeys there are two taxi companies, and several bus routes - tickets are cheap, and you can buy them directly from the driver on board or for longer stays get a travelcard from one of the branches of the bank Caja Duero.

See

Dome of the Cathedral
Castle
Watermills Aceñas de Olivares
Santa María Magdalena Church
Modernism. Sagasta Square
Momo's Palace. Baltasar Lobo
Castle and Cathedral
Douro river
Baltasar Lobo sculpture inside the castle
Holy week
Remain of Castrotorafe Castle
San Pedro de la Nave Church, Campillo, Zamora
Sanabria Lake Natural Park, Zamora
Moreruela Abbey
The Douro Natural Park

Museums and cultural centers

Do

Learn

The combination of Castile-Leon's reputation for pure Spanish and nearby Salamanca's reputation of learning due to its respected university, makes Zamora an excellent place to inmmerse yourself in the culture and improve your Spanish. A little fluency in Spanish will get you a long way, as you should only expect English in tourist places like the Parador and other 4-star hotels. If you're eating out, fitting a basic Spanish-English dictionary into your bag would be an excellent idea.

Buy

As the local saying goes: "Zamora no se ganó en una hora" (Zamora was not conquered in an hour) so forget your car and take a stroll around Zamora. Shopping areas are mainly centred on Tres Cruces Avenue, Santa Clara Street and parallel-running San Torcuato. If you prefer Malls, the biggest one is the Centro Comercial Valderaduey, named after one the local rivers or as it is known by locals, Eroski. The other one is called 'Vía de la Plata'. Almost all shops in town accept major credit cards (Visa, Master Card, Spanish 4-B and 6000). There are plenty of Cajeros Automáticos or ATMs scattered around town. Most ATMs will allow you to withdraw money with your credit card, but you'll need to know your card's PIN for that. Notice many stores will ask for your passport, driving license or ID card before accepting your credit card. Although somewhat awkward for people from Eurozone countries that do not have an ID Card, this measure helps avoid credit card robbery and fraud.

Typical souvenirs include items featuring elements from Semana Santa or Easter. Local wines and cheese, as well as chickpeas from Fuentesaúco always make a good buy. If you're more into the vintage-style buying, check out the weekly mercadillo, a street market held every Tuesday morning. The traditional site was just outside the Train Station, now moved to the parking lot of the Football Stadium Vía de la Plata (either a good 30 minute walk from downtown Zamora or one of the only occasions where local transport would be worth it). The mercadillo is set to return to its original location outside the Estación del Ferrocarril, but no deadline has been given as of May 2007.

If you happen to visit Zamora at the end of June, pottery would make an excellent souvenir too, as Viriathus Square is filled with stands from all over the country selling their creations. You can find items both for everyday use and for display. The 'big day' of the San Pedro festivity is June 29th. You can buy some of these products and other souvenirs, cheese or wine at the store Aperos y Viandas (literally "Farming implements and Food") which is on the way to the Cathedral or at some the shops in and around Ramos Carrión Square. These cater especially for tourists, but you can find many local products -especially wine-at any supermarket (Mercadona, El Arbol, Eroski, etc).

Eat

The excellent raw materials used in the local cuisine really stand out. Staple ingredients include the pulses, the famous chickpeas from Fuentesauco or 'garbanzos', the exquisite cheese made from sheep´s milk, honey from Sanabria, asparagus from Guareña, peppers from Benavente, steak from Aliste, mushrooms, game, cold meats, cakes and sweets... Apart from the tasty roasts, also worth tasting are the rice dishes from Zamora. Traditional dishes include bacalao a la tranca (a cod dish), el pulpo a la sanabresa (an octopus dish), dos y pingada (two fried eggs with fried ham, usually served in Easter) and '"presas de ternera" (a veal dish). For dessert there is the rebojo Zamorano, a very tasty though hard type of bun, and "las natillas almendradas" (Spanish style custard with almonds).

In general, tipping is not always expected but always appreciated. There's not a fixed rate, just leave the spare change or a few euros, depending on where you eat.

Budget

Tapa culture in Zamora is deeply-rooted. To further promote it, the contest De Tapas por Zamora was established in 2006 and is held in May-June. Participating bars create an appetizer or tapa for €1 especially for this contest, and locals have to choose a winner while entering a raffle sponsored by local businesses.

The best-known tapa in town is the pincho moruno, grilled pork meat with herbs on a skewer, served at Bar Lobo, between San Torcuato Street and Santa Clara Street (close to Maestro Square). It has the ability of drawing people from all over the country merely to get a taste of it.

Another excellent stop would be Dolfos, with both loads of sweet and sour options to choose from. Just mind the steep flight of stairs on the way in/out.

Mid-range

Overall value of the restaurants is very good, here is a small selection of good restaurants:

Drink

The Toro wines (very dark, almost black, nowadays made using modern techniques - with a rapidly growing reputation for their taste and quality). Popular local brands include Colegiata, Bajoz and Fariña.

There are many bars and cafes distributed throughout the town, but some of the best known are concentrated in three areas:

Sleep

The city has 18 hotels, 4 of them in the four-star range.

Stay safe

Zamora is one of the most quiet and safest places in Spain. Do not walk alone in poorly lit areas, parks or near Valorio forest at night.

In the health department, the town of Zamora is served by two well-equipped public or state-owned hospitals: the Hospital Virgen de la Concha or "El Clínico" to locals. The second, smaller hospital is the Hospital Rodríguez Chamorro or "El Provincial" to locals. For first-aid you could also go to the nearest Centro de Salud or Clinic. Though well-equipped and attended by very professional staff. If you are a EU citizen, always obtain your E-111 form before you leave. Be respectful and patient with queues, as most hospitals in Spain are understaffed.

Tap water is generally safe to drink, but not particularly good. It is considered hard water or "agua dura", so if you don't like the taste, you can always buy agua embotellada. Popular bottled water brands include: Lanjarón, Font vella, etc. The province is from time to time subject to draughts and the subsequent water restrictions, but these rarely affect the capital.

Dial 112 for emergency services like ambulances, fire brigade and police.

As in the rest of Spain, medicines (not even aspirins) are not sold at supermarkets, they're sold at 'farmacias' (chemist's), identified with a green cross or a Hygeia's cup. Opening times are something like 9-14.00 AM and 17.30-20.30 PM. If that particular farmacia is closed, look for a sign indicating the nearest 'farmacia de guardia' or on-duty chemist's. Their staff is made up of well-trained professionals and will provide proper advice on minor ailments. Should you require specific treatment, always go to the nearest hospital.

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