One of Spain’s many hidden gems is the town of Ayllón tucked away in the not well-known rural area of Spain. Ayllón is about 1-½ north of Madrid, and ½ hour from Soria. Ayllón was never a large centre and today looks like a quaint, sleepy village—but don’t let that appearance fool you into thinking it was always an uneventful place. In its cobbled streets walked many famous people. The Celtiberians (a mix of Celts and Iberian people) were the first recorded settlers, later came the Goths, the Visigoths and the Moors. More recently—if we can call circa 1065-1109 recently—King Alfonso VI, el Cid Campeador, King Alfonso VII (reigned 1126-1157), King Fernanado III (reigned 1217-1252) and King Fernanado IV (reigned 1295-1312) all passed through Ayllon.
When you walk through Ayllon now you will have no problem imagining the town as it was in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries as many of the buildings are the same.
History lives in Ayllón
Ayllón offers a fun and entertaining way to see, live and breath the history in this unique town—guided theatrical tours. These tours show moments in the history in the town from the 13th century until present day. The tour, led by a guide, lasts almost two hours with six theatrical scenes. Some of the scenes depict specific events from the town and include figures such as his majesty Juan II of Castille, Friar Vincente Ferrer or Catherine of Lancaster. Other scenes show everyday life in Ayllón. As these theatrical performances only happen a few months of the year, get in contact with the tourist office to find out when they are so you don’t miss out:
Guided theatrical tours
Reservations 680 717 278
What to see in Ayllón
Roman bridge and city entrance
Ayllón is built along Aguisejo river. To enter the town you cross a Roman bridge and head though an arch which was one of the original city gates, and one of three that still remains in Ayllón.
This is a magnificent example of a medieval town square, with ancient thick wooden-beamed colonnades surrounding the square. Looking down to the far end of the square you will see two impressive buildings, the first is the town hall. The Town hall was originally the first palace of the Marquis and Marchioness of Villena, but in 1620 it was donated to the town council, the 2nd is the Church of San Miguel now the tourist office. The Plaza is the perfect spot to stop and have a cup of coffee in one of the numerous restaurants while taking in the sights.
Visit the historic buildings
The tourist office
I don’t usually write about tourist offices as it is generally a given that you will stop when you see one and pick up some extra information, but this tourist office is housed in the Church of San Miguel (in the summer months). The church dates back to the 12th century and is worth seeing for the historic sake while you are getting information about the town. There are tombs of Pedro Gutierrez and Mariá Alvarez de Vallejo, nobles of the town and benefactors of the chapel. The nave of the chapel has intricate carvings in wood and stone.
Ayllón seems to have changed very little over time. Wandering through the little streets gives you a feel of the village life in earlier centuries. There are numerous residence and palaces that you can’t visit inside, but you can see them on your walking tour. Walking the entire town would take less than an hour unless you get easily distracted ( like I do) by taking photos. Most of the important buildings are from the 16th century or earlier. People in Ayllón look after their town, and you will come across many houses with flower boxes in the windows and quaint decorations.
Visit the wine caves
Tucked into the hill above the town are numerous caves. From the Plaza Mayor past the City Hall, take any street that heads up the hill you will come to the caves. Most of the caves are privately owned and closed up, although you can still walk by. Some of the entrances aren’t locked and you can take a peek into the caves. The ones that are privately owned are still very much in use. Often on weekends you can see families having a BBQ, and sitting at a table that is at the mouth of the cave. Above the caves you have a stunning lookout of Ayllón, the river and fertile valley surrounding it.
Ayllón, was originally built as a fortress on the hill above the existing town. The St. Maria Tower is all that is remaining to a church that was once standing in its spot. Here you have an excellent view of Ayllon from this vantage point and it is worth the little hike up to see.
Whether you decide to stop for just a few hours, for a day or even a few nights, Ayllón has many things to see and explore.