La Alberca, in Salamanca, is one of those places that has earned itself on its own merits always going on stage when talking about the most beautiful towns in Spain. It is not by chance that it was the first rural town in Spain to be declared a National Historic Monument, back in 1940, and since then it has proudly defended all the charms that make it an ideal destination for a weekend getaway.
A place of traditions and customs, built in stone and surrounded by nature, which preserves like few others the typical architecture of the Sierra de Francia. With convoluted streets reminiscent of a Jewish quarter and popular festivals such as La Loa, held on August 15, which have been declared of National Tourist Interest. In short, a rural destination that has maintained its essence over the centuries and that offers it to its many visitors always with the best of its faces.
Walking through the streets of La Alberca
To La Alberca it is better to travel without haste. Not just arrive, take four photos and continue to the next town. First, because we will not soak up the charm that its streets transmit, and second, because it is much better to stay there and be able to walk early in the day and late in the afternoon when the number of tourists who visit it decreases. Even night walks have a special charm here, with the right lighting that makes its stones stand out.
Walking through La Alberca will take you through cobbled streets, through houses with geometric half-timbered houses and balconies where flowers appear. In short, popular architecture built mainly on granite and chestnut wood. You’ll see sturdy chiseled lintels with the house’s founding dates, as well as religious inscriptions, signs, and anagrams. Between corners and squares you will pass through picturesque settings in which films such as El Lazarillo de Tormes, Marcelino Pan y Vino, El Gran Secreto, El Valle de las Espadas, La Guerrilla, Santa Teresa or La Marrana have been filmed. From what you see, in La Alberca it is not easy to travel back in time. Of course, in addition to walking and getting lost in its streets, make sure not to skip the attractions that we highlight below.
It is the nerve center of the town, where much of life is concentrated and where you will surely arrive without even having to ask. In it is the La Alberca Town Hall, which was an old jail, and also the Ducal House. This is where you will best see those balconies full of flowers that we were talking about, just above strong stone arcades. In the center there is a granite transept from the 18th century with engravings and representation of the Passion of Christ.
- The church of Our Lady of the Assumption
It could be very old, but no, it is “only” from the 18th century as it was built on a previous temple. It is therefore neoclassical in style although it cannot hide certain baroque details. The exterior is especially sober and the interior, where we find three naves covered with a groin vault and a chapel on one of the sides, is also sober. Although it does stand out a polychrome granite pulpit from the 16th century.
Just outside the church of Our Lady of the Assumption we find the sculpture of the pig of San Antón. A monument that pays tribute to a curious swimming pool tradition in which a pig is raised in a community way by all the residents of the town while it roams its streets between June 13 (San Antonio de Padua) and January 17 (San Antón). That last day is raffled off among the locals for its subsequent slaughter.
- The hermitages of San Antón, San Blas and El Humilladero
In addition to the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción there are three other interesting temples to visit in La Alberca. There are three small hermitages, located at different entrances and exits of the town, known as San Antón, from the 17th century, San Blas, which was rebuilt in the 19th century, and Humilladero, which also dates from the 17th century. Outside the urban area, if we want to stretch our legs, we can also go to that of Nuestra Señora de Majadas Viejas, where the medieval image of the Virgin stands out, or the Hermitage of San Marcos, which although it is in ruins is surrounded by a space natural of special beauty.
Visiting the surroundings of La Alberca
La Alberca, in short, is small. It has a population that barely exceeds a thousand inhabitants, so it will not take you long to visit it from top to bottom even if we include a stop to taste traditional cuisine, buy some sausage or get a souvenir. So if you have time, it is best to complete your trip with a visit to its surroundings. For example to the Sierra de Francia and the valley of the Batuecas.
It may be interesting for you to go to the Sierra de Francia to see the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Peña, built to venerate a Virgin that appeared in the 15th century. From up there, at 1,723 altitude, you get fantastic views of the Sierras de Béjar and Gata. Or, if you prefer to enter nature on your own, you could walk through the Batuecas valley, where a griffon vulture will surely fly over you, and take, for example, the path that leads to the Chorro de las Batuecas waterfall and get closer to see the Neolithic cave paintings of the Canchal de las Cabras Pintadas.