Are you planning a day trip near Salamanca? Do you want to see a wonderfully preserved medieval village? In the province of Salamanca, only a few kilometers away from Extremadura, you can find a lovely hamlet, awarded as one of the most beautiful towns in Spain: discover La Alberca. You can’t help but fall in love with this town from the first moment you set foot in it. Walk around the historic centre to get a taste of the old typical architecture of the region, discover its history and soak up the Spanish countryside feeling. Come and discover for yourself this isolated mountaintop community!
1. History and legend of the town
Discover La Alberca
La Alberca is located in the south of the province of Salamanca, on the northern slopes of the Sierra de Francia. We do not have information regarding prehistoric times. However, the first traces of civilization date back to the 1300s. It was the first rural town in Spain to be given National Historic Heritage status for facilitating urban conservation. You’ll feel the breath of history at every corner of this little town.
A glorious past
Many legends and traditions have become popular over the centuries in the town. One of them is the story of a victory in 1465 when the women of the town defeated Portuguese troops and claimed the Portuguese flag. Furthermore, in front of the church of La Alberca you’ll see a sculpture of a pig. Do you want to know what tradition lies behind it?
A peculiar tradition
So, it is a centuries-old tradition that takes place on July 13 when dwellers let a pig loosen in the streets. The name of the pig is “San Anton” and after having received a blessing, it can stray on the town’s streets and it’s fed and cared for by all the villagers with great affection. Then, on January 17, the feast day of Saint Anthony, the pig is raffled off at the doors of the church and it goes to the winner of the raffle. How unique and exciting this tradition is!
2. Admire the stunning architecture
This beautifully preserved village will definitely surprise you. Medieval architecture and narrow cobblestone streets will take you back in time. In fact, the style is a blend of Jewish and Moorish influences that remained untouched for centuries. Buildings are supported by wooden beams and they are limited to a height of three stories. This might be the reason why most of the constructions are still in perfect condition. The centre of the town’s social life is the main square, surrounded on all four sides by columned porches.
Religion and tradition form an integral part of the village. You can discover symbols (such as the Knights Templar and the symbol of Camino de Santiago) embedded in the walls of the buildings. Moreover, houses still preserve the medieval coats of arms, inscriptions, signs and anagrams on them. It’s striking!
3. Visit The Parish Church of Our Lady of the Assumption
Discover La Alberca
The most representative religious building is the parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption, erected in the 18th century. Note, that the church tower was built about 212 years before the present church. The first Duke of Alba paid for it, therefore you can see his coat of arms in a corner of the Tower. Though this church is kind of ordinary from the outside, it is quite compelling from the inside. Check out the remarkable pulpit of polychrome granite from the original 16th century construction!
If spooky tales are your cup of tea
There is also a particular statue that you can find in the “Iglesia”, the statue of Cristo del Tudor. Rumor has it that on September 1, 1655, the statue sweated blood. Then the following day it appeared to bleed from a wound on one side. It’s definitely worth a visit.
4. Discover La Alberca’s culinary delights
The village is proud to have lovely quaint cafes and ancient tapas bars which still retain their medieval, dark interiors where Spanish customs are still in vogue. Black Ham is very popular in this village and there is a type of ham (Jamon) which you might want to try once you’re there. Treat yourself to a piece of delicious turrón (made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds), the traditional Spanish sweet. Do not miss trying some locally produced fragrant roasted nuts or honey either.
Additionally, if you are in the main square, take a sip of water from the spigot on the wall. Residents call it “fountain of youth”. Well, it’s worth a shot, isn’t it?
5. For the sporty ones
There are also beautiful hiking routes zigzagging across the surrounding forests where you can get close to the pilgrimage site. If you crave a fantastic hike we recommend visiting Peña de Francia, a mountain of 1723 metres in the Natural Park of the Batuecas. In fact, you can admire a range of spectacular landscapes that go from plains and tiny villages to mountain ranges. Everything invites you to get lost and meditate in this area.
Do you want to have an unforgettable hike in Europe? Click here for some of the most beautiful trails!