Categories: SpainTravel Guide

Visiting historic La Alberca in the Castilla y Leon region of Spain

La Alberca in Castilla y Leon, Spain

It was as if Gilgamesh, or, to use a more modern analogy, the Transformer Optimus Prime, walked the path long before us, leaving the boulders that blocked the way piled high along the route for someone else to build upon. And build upon they did.

Plaza Mayor of La Alberca

Over the centuries the narrow, twisting paths became lined with houses built upon impossibly huge foundations, until, today, ancient houses sit atop monstrous stones lining narrow streets ­ this is the National Historic Landmark of La Alberca.

Narrow streets and Old Stone houses in La Alberca

Called one of the most authentic of Spanish villages, La Alberca is an isolated mountaintop community where few tourists visit, and practically no one speaks English. It boasts the origin of some of the finest Iberian Jamon Bellota, air-cured in the dry mountain breezes.

One of the traditional old houses in La Alberca By Conde negro – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 es, CC

Carved from a mountainside high above the plains of Castilla y Leon, Spain, perched upon the impossibly massive rock foundations, are the old timber structures whose lines and materials reflect the medieval Jewish and Moorish roots of this isolated outpost of Spanish culture.

Souvenir Shops at Plaza Mayor La Alberca by Lorenzo Martin Iglesias via Flickr CC

Its streambeds of streets, mountain torrents in the spring that become pedestrian walks in the dry season, all lead to a village square ­ a Plaza Mayor ­ where commerce, tourism, and bullfights meet. It is the center of the community.

Traditional Houses in La Alberca by Lorenzo Martin Iglesias via Flickr CC

We stopped for refreshments, my companions and I, sitting at tables devouring some cold beer and tapas on this unevenly cobbled square that seemed too steeply sloped for congregating, yet the photos and mounted bull’s heads in the tavern told a different tale. This was the heart of the community ­ the place where its history was made.

Church of La Alberca photo by Bjorn S via Flickr CC

La Alberca is a National Historic Site that can trace its origins back before the Romans when Visigoths began the large stone foundations visible today. As an outpost on the frontier between Moslem and Christian Spain, the style of architecture shares a mix of Jewish and Moorish influences that remained unchanged for centuries.

Inside one of the restaurants in La Alberca

Almost every structure in the oldest section of town sports the ancient timber and stone mix of construction still visible, some with stucco covering the stone. Later additions (meaning after the Inquisition when Jews were not welcome in Spain) include a Christian symbol carved in the stone over most doorways. The rest is intact, the history there for all to see.

For more information about traveling to Spain see and

Where to Stay in La Alberca

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Richard Frisbie

Richard Frisbie is a travel, culinary, and garden writer whose work has appeared in a broad range of print and online venues, including EDGE Publications, InsideOut magazine,, and others. He is also owner of Hope Farm Press, editing and publishing regional books on New York State. Visit his websites,

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