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Some Paradors of central Spain

A week after we got back from central Spain, I've been reflecting on the Parador concept and I'm really impressed. The Spanish government operates this chain of hotels, but with results that are refreshingly diverse – unlike most state-run projects. Each Parador is unique, and, beyond celebrating the history of each building, to run a successful hotel is a brilliant way of financing the maintenance of these amazing buildings.

Keir's 9-night itinerary was a clockwise loop around Madrid, starting with two nights in Toledo and proceeding via Guadalupe, Caceres, Jarandilla de la Vera, Ávila and La Granja back to Madrid airport. With temperatures soaring in the high 30s, I was grateful that most Paradors also have swimming pools. It was wonderful to eat our meals al fresco.

And in what other country can you stay in a monastery (Guadalupe), a 15th century castle (Jarandilla), among superb medieval walls (Ávila) and finish up in Philip V's royal summer palace (La Granja)? The Parador in Guadalupe was actually the Colegio de Infantes and a former hospital, but the monastery which houses Guadalupe's Black Virgin was only yards away:

Guadalupe.jpg

and here is its bronze plaque to the Black Virgin whose miracles are so famous:

blackVirgin.jpg

The next three photos show the Parador garden and walls of Ávila, and the castle of Jarandilla de la Vera:

avilaGarden.jpg

avilaWalls.jpg

castle.jpg

And finally, here are the royal palace and gardens at La Granja:

Granja.jpg

Granja2.jpg

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