La Alberca, Salamanca, is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain and one of the best representatives of the Sierra of France. Together with Mogarraz, San Martín and Miranda del Castañar and Sequeros gather the most beautiful spring colors and of the autumn thanks to this mountain range, a mountain range stopped in time between enclosed valleys and an architecture difficult to find in other regions of Spain. Those who visit this mountain are not surprised that three of their villages are on the list of most beautiful villages in Spain. We visited it for a long weekend, a perfect getaway to isolate you to a paradise more than nearby.
The Sierra de Francia and the Pool
The sierra and its surroundings
The Sierra de Francia is located south of Salamanca and north of the province of Cáceres. The Sierra de Francia occupies a unique natural space, being a mountain range of beautiful valleys and an architectural heritage that give enough arguments to visit a corner like this. The Peña de Francia and the Pool are the most recognized places. From the first you can see the entire Sierra de Béjar and all the towns in the region. The second, the most famous possibly, represents part of the gastronomy and architecture of the area.
One of the reasons that led us to revisit the Sierra de Francia was its landscape, with high peaks in the distance, deep forests and small villages with a unique architecture in harmony with the nature and landscape of the area. The Sierra de Francia is also a place of legends, transmitted from generation to generation, and historical moments. There are from fortresses, walls and even ancient Roman mining holdings in the open sky, as in Las Médulas, in León, although already covered by vegetation.
Dryers with Peña de Francia in the background
A part of the Sierra itself inside houses the Batuecas Valley, very close to La Alberca. This place, given its isolated character, was chosen by the barefoot Carmelites as a place of physical and spiritual retreat. Today in this natural environment you can do excursions through its trails next to the Batuecas river. From here, the Chorro de las Batuecas stands out, a unique waterfall that provides an additional point to catalog the area as a small paradise.
The Rock of France
In addition to the towns we will talk about next, the famous Sierra de Francia environment highlights the famous Peña de Francia, of superb views and unique location, 1,723m high. Here a Marian sanctuary was built, the highest in the world, due to the appearance of the Virgin in 1437. In the Peña de Francia in addition to the sanctuary there is a church, a convent, a small square, a hostel and the viewpoint towards the Sierra de Bejar and Gata.
Peña de Francia
Peña de Francia
The 5 most beautiful villages in the Sierra de Francia
During a weekend we were able to visit the 5 most beautiful villages in the Sierra Francia, and we have ordered them according to our taste, although we know in good faith that for many the Pool is the badge of the region. La Alberca has changed a lot in recent years because of the "fault" of tourism that has lost some of its charm (too much souvenir shop), maybe that's why Mogarraz, a little more isolated, is our favorite. We finally stayed there, and this marked part of our tour.
The roads in this sector of the Sierra de Francia are two-way with many curves, mountain passes, narrow roads and poor circulation. They are roads that connect narrow valleys through fairytale forests, so driving is a joy. Our first stop was Miranda del Castañar at the top of the mountain to make a circular route to finish in the pool. From Miranda del Castañar we went down to Sequeros to later go to San Martín del Castañar and climb the Peña de Francia, which was snowfall in the month of march. La Alberca and Mogarraz left them for the end, although we visited the latter on Sunday, the day we were leaving.
Map of the Sierra de Francia
In a weekend you can see all the towns in the region, including the Peña de Francia or the Pool. The ideal is to stay in arural house, as we did, specifically in Mongarraz, and enjoying the meat and wine of the area, where the veal, the kid, the lamb and especially the sausages stand out.
1 Mogarraz, the most beautiful and original
For us Mogarraz was a real discovery. We decided to stay in this beautiful town because of the originality of its facades. Thepictures that decorate the houses portray the people who live or lived there, isn't it original? I do not remember if something similar we have seen before, of course not in Spain, but it is different and colorful. It gives a charming air.
As in the surrounding villages in its architecture, granite and frameworks abound. In addition, its urban center can be crossed along the main axis, a narrow street that runs through the town from top to bottom. You can see it in less than an hour, but it is worth stopping at each door to dream or think about the history of each house.
If you want to know this town better, we recommend you read our article Mogarraz, the most beautiful town in the Sierra de Francia.
2 La Alberca, the best known, but the most touristic
Undoubtedly the Pool is the queen of the region, the most visited, which has more hotels and restaurants. In a decade the Pool has changed a lot. Part of its prosperity comes from tourism, with multiple souvenir shops and great gastronomic offer. La Alberca is possibly the most complete town in the region, and it is no accident that by 1940 it was the first town to receive the declaration of Historical-Artistic Set.
Their management parties are worth a visit. They are recognized since the mid-twentieth century as national tourist interest, something that makes the strong traditions in the area very clear and latent. Besides, there are houses, almost intact, from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as a convent, a beautiful Plaza Mayor full of restaurants And a beautiful church. If you walk through its narrow streets you can escape the noise caused by tourists who gather around the church or the Plaza Mayor. The Pool is what it has, so it is so visited.
3 San Martín del Castañar and its fortress
When we arrive at San Martín del Castañar we leave the car in a parking lot at the entrance, as in most of the towns in the area. The fountain of the square, a small medieval bridge, a restored castle and an original castle caught our attention bullring.
San Martin del Castañar
San Martin del Castañar
The town runs from Paiperez street and Dr. Peña street, streets that join in the town square. At the end of Dr. Peña's street you reach the castle, where there are several catwalks to cross it and which also houses the village cemetery.
San Martin del Castañar
4 Sequeros, small, quiet and flirtatious
Sequeros is a quiet town with few restaurants, but with a square and some views of the Peña de Francia highly recommended In the center of town is the Altonazo Square, where the two-story houses, the arcades and granite stand out. As we were told in a bar, this was a somewhat bourgeois town, especially at the end of the 19th century, thanks to the state and civil servants in the area.
5 Miranda del Castañar, with that magnificent watchtower
Finally, while remaining almost as beautiful as the others is Miranda del Castañar, with a magnificent watchtower ruling over the valleys of the Sierra de Francia. Highlight what was the old parade ground, or what's left, and the Puerta de San Ginés. If you are lucky, there will be no buses in the square, since these hide the greatness and the views of what was this place in the town.
Miranda del Castañar
Miranda del Castañar
Bonus track. El Portillo Viewpoint
Finally, a viewpoint little visited thanks to the steep slope it has to access it. Here the sunset is wonderful, since the sun is hidden between the mountains leaving prints like the following. From the parking lot to the viewpoint there is about 15 or 20 minutes of climbing through a forest track. Eye with the slope.
El Portillo viewpoint
How to get?
The Sierra de Francia is south of Salamanca, bordering the province of Cáceres. From Salamanca you can reach the CL-512 or SA-205 through Neighbors. If you come from Extremadura, take SA-225. Instead, if you come from Madrid It is faster to go via Salamanca and then take the CL-512.
Where to eat?
We leave you the places where we ate and dined, and the truth, we can recommend everyone.
In San Martin del Castañar we recommend the Inn of San Martín, in the Plaza Mayor and in Mogarraz the Mirasierra Restaurant.
Where to sleep?
Through the Sierra de Francia
- SPA Mogarraz Hotel
- Casa Rural Cabo de Aldea, where we stayed. In the center, more than 5 rooms and with exquisite decoration
In the pool
- Garden houses, the name says it all
- The corner of Animas
- La Hospederia de la Peña de Francia (a few kilometers from the Pool)
Do you want to go to the Sierra de Francia by car?
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