Zamora is a city in Castile and León, Spain, the capital of the province of Zamora. It lies on a rocky hill in the northwest, near the frontier with Portugal and crossed by the Duero river, which is some 50 km downstream as it reaches the Portuguese frontier. Zamora is the city with the most Romanesque churches in all of Europe.
During the period of Moorish rule the settlement became known by the names of "Semurah" or "Azemur". After the establishment of the Christian Kingdom of Asturias, the settlement became a strategic frontier post and was the scene of many fierce military engagements between the Muslims and Christians. Control of the town shifted between the two sides a number of times from the early eighth century to the late eleventh century. During this period it became heavily fortified.
Typical souvenirs include items featuring elements from Semana Santa or Easter. Local wines and cheese, as well as chickpeas from Fuentesaúco always make a good buy. If you're more into the vintage-style buying, check out the weekly mercadillo, a street market held every Tuesday morning. The traditional site was just outside the Train Station, now moved to the parking lot of the Football Stadium Vía de la Plata (either a good 30 minute walk from downtown Zamora or one of the only occasions where local transport would be worth it). The mercadillo is set to return to its original location outside the Estación del Ferrocarril, but no deadline has been given as of May 2007.
- The Cathedral of Zamora is located above the right bank of the Duero in the southern and rather higher part of the old town, and is still surrounded by its old walls and gates. Built between 1151 and 1174, it is one of the finest examples of Spanish Romanesque architecture. A previous church, also entitled to El Salvador ("Holy Savior") existed at the time of King Alfonso VII of Castile, but it was apparently in ruins, so that the king donated the church of St. Thomas in the city to act as cathedral.
The church was built under bishop Esteban, under the patronage of Alfonso VII and his sister, Sancha Raimúndez. The date of construction (1151-1174) is traditionally attested by an epigraphy in the northern side of the transept, although recent discoveries have proven that the church had been already begun in 1139, at the time of bishop Bernardo. The cathedral was consecrated in 1174 by bishop Esteban, although works continued under his successor Guillermo (1176-1192), including the transept. The cloister and the bell tower date to the first half of the 13th century. The designer of the church is unknown. The Cathedral Museum, in the 17th century cloister, is notable particularly for its fine Flemish tapestries of the 15th-17th centuries depicting scenes from the Trojan War, Hannibal's Italian campaign and the life of Tarquin, the Etruscan king of Rome. Another treasure is a Late Gothic monstrance of 1515.
- Palacio de los Condes de Alba y Aliste (Palace of the Counts of Alba and Aliste) This stately palace, a splendid example of Spanish Renaissance architecture from the early 16th century, today houses a Parador hotel. One of the most surprising aspects of this palatial residence is the contrast between the sober exterior –with its sturdy ashlar work and a predominance of straight lines both on the main doorway (enclosed within a rectangular border) and on the windows and balconies– and the elegant and refined silhouette of the interior courtyard. The courtyard has a double gallery of elliptical arches supported by columns decorated with grotesque-style motifs of animals and plants on the capitals. The springers are carved with medallions on the lower layer and crests on the upper layer. The whole arrangement is crowned with a small floral cornice in the Gothic tradition. Another highlight on the interior is the lower staircase which opens on the ground floor under two segmented arches with Lombard-inspired decoration on the capitals and hand rails.
- City Walls. Zamora was known as the “bien cercada” (excellently walled). This is due to its triple layer walls around the town converting it into an important strategic point on the banks of the Duero.The first wall layer is the most important.Built during the reign of Fernando I, in the XI century on the site of a former Arab fortress.Closes the atoll where the Zamorian historic quarter is located.There are various entrances doors.The most noteworthy being the Olivares, where you can enter the Cathedral and the Episcopal Cathedral. On the opposite side there is the North entrance or Doña Urraca. The third door is the Portillo de la Traición through which Bellido Dolfos passed persecuted by El Cid Campeador after the murder of King Sancho II.
- Museo de Zamora. The museum is housed in the Cordón Palace, a 16th-century building located in the old quarter of Zamora, and is divided into two clearly-differentiated sections: Archaeology, containing works dating from prehistoric times to the Modern Age; and Fine Arts, with an important collection of sculptures and paintings dating from the 14th to the 20th century. There is also a room on the history of the city of Zamora.
- The Castle of Zamora is a Middle Ages fortress which stands northwest of the city's Cathedral. It features Pre-Roman foundations and a Romanesque general structure. It was built between the 10th and 12th centuries.The castle features magnificent views of the town and the river from the keep.