The history of Paradores dates back to 1928, when the Marquis de la Vega Inclán had the idea of establishing State owned hotels in various regions to generate wealth and help restore buildings and other significant historical monuments that were, at the time, obsolete or even in very poor state of conservation. The idea caught on, and in 1928, King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the first Parador in a spectacular location, Sierra de Gredos, near Madrid. Now, 91 years later, we find 94 establishments, set in castles, old convents, monasteries, palaces, manors, Alcazars, even new buildings.
In recent years, the Paradores of Spain have become the undisputed leader of cultural tourism through the promotion and appreciation of the historical and cultural heritage of the country. In addition to hotels in all the Spanish cities declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO such as Avila, Cáceres, Cordoba, Alcalá de Henares, Cuenca or Salamanca, among others, more than half of the Paradores are located in monumental settings or in the most beautiful natural parks in the country.
The buildings— some centuries old— offer maximum comfort, a fusion of modern and classic luxury supported by state-of-the-arts technology. In short, a sojourn in a Parador perfectly combines Wi-Fi connections and digital TV with antiques, swords, suits of armor and the fabulous canopy beds used by the former Spanish kings.
Some Paradores have survived the passage of time and the ravages of war to act as a testimony of the glorious past of the Kingdom of Spain:
For example, Emperor Charles V stayed at The Jarandilla Palace (today a Parador), located in Extremadura, birthplace of many of the men who accompanied Columbus on his voyages.
In the town of Hondarribia, in San Sebastian, the Parador stands, in its solitary elegance, as a fortress of thick stonewalls and elegant interior decoration. Felipe II of Spain and Mary of Austria once occupied its chambers.
In Sigüenza, Castilla-León, the Parador is a former Moorish fortress, which was conquered by the Kingdom of Castile in 1124. It has been the residence of Kings and Cardinals, and it is said that you can still hear the wailing of Doña Blanca of Bourbon, niece of the King of France, who died of sadness after being forced to marry Pedro I “Pedro the Cruel King”.
A grand building is the site of the the Parador in the town of SOS del Rey Católico, birthplace of King Ferdinand, married to Queen Isabella of Castile, the Catholic Kings, perhaps the best known of all Spanish monarchs.
The best way to become acquainted with these unique buildings is through “the Parador routes,” which offer exciting weeklong cultural itineraries through Spain. Currently there are 28 routes available that allow the tourist to explore attractions such as the great Spanish wines, the Muslim legacy in Andalusia, Green Spain, the monasteries or the World Heritage cities.
In addition, the network of Paradores de Turismo of Spain has a product called ‘Unique Rooms’. Of more than 6000 luxury rooms, they have chosen the 60 most spectacular, authentic quarters that were once occupied by significant characters in Spanish history. This offer includes a variety of amenities such as tasting dinners, unique settings and excursions, etc.
On the other hand, golf fans have at their disposal a variety of Paradores for the enjoyment of the sport. The network owns two golf courses: El Saler and Malaga Golf. In addition, the Paradores have agreements with more than 25 golf courses scattered across the country for guests to practice in any of them.
For its expertise and luxury programs, Paradores de Turismo of Spain is positioned as a leading global company in the international hospitality market.
The network is a unique enterprise devoted to maintaining and recovering a country’s past in an environment of luxury and comfort. It should be praised for taking on the enormous responsibility of maintaining such a vast patrimony and heritage with the dedication, professionalism and commitment shown by the people who manage this great State corporation. ■