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Spanish Villages, Beautiful places in Spain: La Alberca

La Alberca, Province of Salamanca.

albercaAlberca, formerly known as Valdelaguna, is located in the Southern part of the province of Salamanca. This village is 1084 metres above sea level on the Northern slopes of 'la Sierra de Francia'(the French mountain range'). Its unusual houses and streets have put it on the toursist map for visitors to the province of Salamanca.

With the Cabras Pintas prehistoric caves on the edge of Alberca, it is thought that this village was repopulated during the times of Alfonso VI by the French. In fact some of its place names like 'la Sierra de Francia' and 'el rio Frances' (the French river) refer to these origins.

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One of Alberca's greatest assets is the diversity of the wonderful scenery that surrounds it. On one side you can see granite, slate and quartzite which support the varied wild vegetation and forests of oaks, chestnut trees, pine trees, walnut trees, apple trees and almond groves.


Like many other villages in Spain, Alberca's population is declining. Over half a century ago it had 1700 inhabitants but now this figure hardly reaches a 1000. However, the village is still well maintained and despite harsh winters and very hot summers tourism plays an important part in its economy. Its narrow cobbled streets, small squares and curious houses make this a beautiful place to visit.

albercaAll the traditional houses are made of granite and stone and wooden beams, and have a maximum of 3 floors, each with a different function. In the past animals were kept on the ground floor and the kitchen was on the next floor, the loft was used to cure the meat, normally ham, pork and chorizo (sausage), this is why the floor used to have holes in it so that the smoke from the kitchen could rise. Many of the houses have large wooden balconies full of flowers. The main square in Alberca is flanked by doorways made of granite and wood.

alberca
Fiestas in La Alberca:
These take place on the day of the Virgin of August, a special celebration when a play is staged in the streets of the village. Alberca's inhabitants become actors for the day giving life to characters such as the devil and angels. The atmosphere of the village is dominated by the multicoloured typcial costumes adorned with gold and silver which are worn with pride. At Easter there is also a fiesta celebrating 'el Día del Trago' or 'Lunes de Aguas' when the town hall invites the whole village to an aperitif.

Hotels in La Alberca: Although the remoteness of this beautiful Spanish village has largely protected it from an influx of tourists, it does boast two interesting hotels for those who want to stay overnight . Hotel Doña Teresa**** (www.hoteldeteresa.com) in the village itself, with spa facilities and a very good restaurant, and Hospedería Santuario Peña de Francia*** up in the Peña de Francia mountain sierra at 11 km. from La Alberca with wonderful views and another great restaurant.

Restaurants in Alberca: La Abuela Carmen Restaurant in the Hotel Doña Teresa serves good local food, as does Las Petronillas in Miranda del Castañar, 18km from La Alberca. Otherwise try one of the various tapas bars serving traditional dishes in Alberca itself.

 

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