Second in the “Madrid Afar” series is Penafiel, located in the Valladolid province in the Castilla-Leon region of Spain. The town is located north-west of Madrid (182KM). 

On my way from Madrid, I stopped and visited other towns and castles. I will highlight these in my next blog in this series, but the scene at Peñafiel calls for it to be the blog’s second stop.  My plan was to take a route north of Madrid, along “La Rute del Cid”, to visit as many medieval castles as possible in a short amount of time. Remember, “Rapid can be memorable” with proper planning. Buy a good book. I recommend the “Eyewitness” series. You study ahead, use the book’s images and the brief but meaningful history and references provided. You can take the book with you as your tour guide. Before you take off, remember to hop onto Google Earth to review the routes, terrain and images others have captured to enhance the book experience. As you will read, “La Ruta del Cid” (The Cid’s Route) turned out to be an incredible journey.

Visiting Peñafiel, a small and picturesque Spanish town in the “Ribera del Duero”, would not only allow you to enjoy a nice stroll through a small Spanish town with a lot of character and history, but also allows you to visit the valley that gives birth to some great and famous wines that carry the name of the Duero river valley (Ribera del Duero) where its grapes are grown at a number of vineyard plantations. One striking natural character of these plains is the golden to green color contrasts. Featured here is the Abadia Retuerta, a XII monastery turn into a winery and vineyard plantation.

Penafile Winery House

Abadia Retuerta Winery House

Ribera del Diero Vineyards

Ribera del Diero Vineyards

The Duero river valley geopraphy along this area features short hills, surrounded by golden color fields from dry grasses or what appeared to be wheat, contrasting with some short conifer pine trees or vineyard plantations

Duero River Valley Coloring Constrast.

Duero River Valley Coloring Constrast.

As I arrived to Peñafiel, sitting at another hill top, perched over cliffs, was a majestic castle, overlooking the Duero river valley. From out of a medieval fairy tale, there stood a solid rock structure. Its round and rocky turrets. Did you ever as kid played with the “Exin Castillo” castle making blocks? The Peñafiel castle would be a true replica of those models.

Penafiel Castle

Peñafiel Castle

Peñafiel’s Castle is a massive and rock solid structure that has stood the taste of time. Equally impressive are the turrets at each end. The castle walls are shaped after the contour of the rocky hill where it stands. An elongated structure as you can judge by the picture, along with its massive building structure in the middle gives this castle the nick name of “el buque” (the ship). It measures 210 meters long and 35 meters wide. Originally founded in the 11th century, the castle walls and main structure where built in the 13th and 14th century by Don Juan Manuel. The second wall and a number of turrets along the walls were built in the 15th century. Today the main structure in the castles hosts a provincial wine museum.

Penafiel Castle East Turret.

Penafiel Castle North Turret.


Penafiel Castle West Turret

Peñafiel Castle South Turret

This castle was the scene of some bloody battles, always faithful to the kingdom of Castilla, is what gives this town and castle its name. Peñafiel is Spanish means “Loyal Rock”. I read that this place was designed to be “unconquerable” and that its gatehouse is one of the best built. The main structure hosts a wine museum. As you get passed the main gate and climb up a number of stairs is the entrance to the wine museum. As you enter you notice the first wall and its turrets, these were built a century before the second or outside wall.

Penafiel Castle Gateway

Peñafiel Castle Gateway

Penafiel Castle Entrance

Peñafiel Castle Entrance

The view of the valley, called the Ribera del Duero and the city itself are very pleasant. The typical “teja” roofs and the old church along the narrow streets, given way to a number of small parks or plazas.

View of the Duero river valley from atop the Penafiel Castle

View of the Duero river valley from atop the Peñafiel Castle

Town of Penafile viewed from Penafiel Castle

Town of Peñafiel and San Pablo's church viewed from Peñafiel Castle

As you drive back the windy road heading back into town, make time to sit to relax to taste small town Spain. Sit on a bench at any of the many many plazas in town. You can enjoy the view of the castle at the distance, the well groomed flower beds or pick up a chat with any of the locals. There is always an older man, sitting, boina (Spanish black barret) and all, ready to talk politics and the town’s history. Also in town you will find the church of San Pablo, founded in 1324, constructed in  a Gothic-Mudejar architecture.

Penafiel Plaza with view of Penafiel Castle
Peñafiel Castle within view from a plaza.