When you get to Calatañazor, home to just 70 people in deepest darkest Soria, it is easy to imagine the heated battles that came to define this tiny stone village in the Spanish imagination.
From its privileged position in the Castillian highlands, the town has a picturesque setting that, in times past, would have been a defensive godsend. The castle, most of which now lies in ruins, crowns a hilltop overlooking the river Milanos, and is thought to be the inspiration behind the town’s original Arabic name: ‘Eagles’ Nest’.
Legend tells how Calatañazor witnessed a great battle between local troops and the Moorish forces of the Vizier of Córdoba, Almanzor, in the year 1002. The small town held their own, and managed to fend off the same Moorish army that had brought bigger towns including Barcleona and Santiago de Compostela to their knees.
A steep street forms the central thoroughfare of the little town, whose ancient houses and narrow streets hark back to the Middle Ages. Among all of Spain’s medieval towns, Calatañazor is the most impressive by a long stretch. Impressive enough to attract one Orson Welles, who chose Calatañazor as the setting for his 1965 film Chimes at Midnight, based on Shakespeare’s Falstaff.
The town also has a lovely Romanic church (la Iglesia de Nuestra Senora del Castillo), a small museum (the Museo Parroquial) and the appropriately-named Ermita de la Soledad – a Romanic hermitage that lies outside the city walls, and just beside the ruined and overgrown church of San Juan Bautista.
How to get there:
Calatañazor is 32km from Soria town (the capital of Soria province)
Take the N122 and after the crossroad at Abejar, take the SO-P.5026 towards Calatañazor.
Where to Stay:
Casa del Cura
65 to 75 Euros per night, with a ciderhouse menu for €27 (e.g. chorizo and cider, ribsteak, cod with peppers, Spanish omlette and cheese with membrillo paste)
Cover photo: Flickr / José Javier Martín Espartosa