The word "parador" (or stopping place) appears in many classical Spanish texts. While the posada (inn) was the place where animals were stabled for the night (travelers were not considered to be guests there), the parador was the lodging offered to persons of more respetable rank. Based on this tradition, the Marques de la Vega-Inclan who was Royal Tourist Commissioner in 1926, had the idea of establishing a chain of State Paradors, a proyect which was personally approved by king Alfonso XIII. The first Parador was constructed in the Gredos mountain (Madrid) range and was directly related to the sport of kings, the hunt. Later on as tourism and traveling came to the forefront, establishments were opened up at distances corresponding to one easy day's journey in the automobiles of that time. This led to the creation of the Parador of Manzanares and Bailen, Oropesa and Merida. Currently the Parador network consist of 85 establishments.

The basic philosophy of the Paradors was, and continues to be, that of State providing hotel accommodation in areas where it would not be profitable for private initiative to do so. However , there is a second aspect to the Marquis de la Vega-Inclan's initial concept. It was the idea to take advantage as much as possible of ancient monuments, old hospices palaces, castles and convents for the installation of the Paradors. Thas the traveler can make the pleasantly surprising discovery that he can sleep in the same room in the Castle of Jarandilla de la Vera where Charles V is said to have stayed while waiting for his lodgings in the nearby Yuste monastery to be prepared, and he can dine in the rooms which used to belong to the Alcala de Henares University founded by Cardinal Cisneros. Or even spend a few days in the Hondarribia castle against which the Prince of Conde laid anunsuccesful siege three hundred years ago.

A trip to the Paradors is not only a trip through the territory of Spain but also through its history , from the later Middle Ages through the modern architectural styles of the twentieth century: It is a trip we recommend heartily.


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