Ribera de Duero Denomination of Origin Wines. Cultivation field Piedad Sancho-Mata / © ICEX
The Autonomous Community of Castile-León encompasses a large part of the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula. The region is located in the interior of Spain and includes the following provinces: Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora. The capital city is Valladolid. Castile-Leon has a population of 2,546,078 and an area of 94,226.91 sq. kilometers / 36,381 sq. miles.
Castile-León's agriculture is based on the cultivation of cereals and grains, and it is the leading producer of this type of crop in Spain. Legumes, vegetables, potatoes and sugar beets are other chief agricultural products in this region.
Livestock breeding produces high-quality beef, pork and lamb.
The wines from the Ribera del Duero DO are outstanding in quality, and have achieved international prestige. Other wine Designations of Origin of this region are Toro DO, Bierzo DO, Rueda DO, Arlanza DO, Cigales DO y Tierra del Vino de Zamora DO.
Read more: Wines from Spain
Castile-León was visited by 958,066 foreign tourists in 2012.
This is one of the Spanish regions with the greatest wealth of historical landmarks. Burgos Cathedral, the Old Town of Segovia and its Roman Aqueduct, the Old City of Salamanca, Las Médulas in León, the Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches and the Archaeological Site at Atapuerca in Burgos, have all been declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
The National Museum of Sculpture in Valladolid houses an extraordinary collection. Another focal point in Valladolid is the Museo Patio Herreriano. This is one of Spain's most complete contemporary art galleries and is located in a Renaissance-style building in the city center.
The city of León is proud of its Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC) a building designed by architects Tuñón y Mansilla which in 2007 received one of the world's most prestigious architectural awards, the Mies van der Rohe Award.
The region is also home to two important natural parks: Hoces del Río Duratón and Lago de Sanabria and its surroundings. Castile-León is an ornithological paradise. And much of the St. Jame's Way crosses through Castile-León (Burgos, Palencia and León).
UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Castile-León: Alto de Bernesga, Ancares Leoneses, Babia, Los Argüellos, Sierras de Béjar y Francia, Valles de Omaña y Luna and Valle de Laciana.
More info: Turismo Castilla y León
Castile-León is a land with a long history, as evidenced by the wealth of artistic heritage it has accumulated throughout the centuries. It is a land of broad plains dotted with historical cities such as Ávila, Salamanca, Segovia, Burgos and León.
Every year, the city of Valladolid holds its Seminci Film Festival which mainly features quality films that stand out for their independent spirit.
Universally famous figures from Castile-Leon include Santa Teresa de Jesús (1515-1582), writer; San Juan de la Cruz (1542-1591), writer; Leopoldo Alas Clarín (1852-1901), writer and Miguel Delibes (1920-2010), writer.
Fiestas and Food Festivals
During Santa Águeda, celebrated on the Sunday that falls nearest to February 5, in Zamarramala (Segovia), the women run the town and elect a Mayoress. A straw figure representing men is burned.
Many gastronomic fiestas celebrating traditional products and dishes take place throughout the year all over the region.
The gastronomy of Castile is based on contrasts, smoothly blending the diversity of the gastronomic legacy from Jews, Muslims and Christians. The large amounts of legumes produced in the region have made chickpea stews typical, as well as meat stews. The cocido maragato (a chickpea stew from the province of León), is outstanding for the excellent balance of its ingredients and preparation.
Pork and lamb are the staple Castilian meats, which range from roast lamb and suckling pig to a wide variety of cured meats: Iberian hams such as those from Guijuelo PDO, chorizos (pork sausage) from Villarcayo, morcilla de Burgos (black sausage), Cecina de León PGI (smoked beef), or Botillo del Bierzo PGI (a sausage type cured meat product). Mention must be made here of one of the region's best-known cheeses, PDO Queso Zamorano, made from Castilian ewes' milk.
Trout fished in the rivers of Zamora and León is widely appreciated for its extraordinary flavour.