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Route of Charles V: in the footsteps of the Emperor

  • Charles V's room in Yuste Monastery © Turespaña

    Charles V's room in Yuste Monastery © Turespaña

  • View of Laredo

    View of Laredo

  • Santa María arch. Burgos © Turespaña

    Santa María arch. Burgos © Turespaña

  • Church of San Juan Bautista. Venta de Baños © Castilla y León

    Church of San Juan Bautista. Venta de Baños © Castilla y León

  • Yuste Monastery, Cuacos de Yuste © Turespaña

    Yuste Monastery, Cuacos de Yuste © Turespaña


"Let us go back in time to the 16th century, when Emperor Charles V disembarked in the north of Spain after abdicating his throne at the end of a historic reign. ..."

Let us go back in time to the 16th century, when Emperor Charles V disembarked in the north of Spain after abdicating his throne at the end of a historic reign. Accompanied by his retinue, he embarked on a journey of over one month around Cantabria, Castile-León and Extremadura until he reached his place of retirement, the Yuste monastery. You can recreate this fascinating journey 400 years later, when you travel the «Route of Charles V».

Here we suggest following in his footsteps through 34 municipal districts in these three Regions. Choose your favourite stage – in all of them you will find stunning settings along with heritage and monuments that conserve all the charm of the period. Here we suggest some of the most attractive destinations:

The route. Eleven destinations not to be missed

The route starts in Laredo (Cantabria Region) where Charles disembarked and where today you can see a symbolic bust of the emperor. Don’t miss its old town, defensive walls and stately houses. You will love beaches like La Salve - Laredo is set in a privileged location on the Cantabrian coast.

After travelling through various parts of Cantabria you come to Medina de Pomar (in the province of Burgos, Castile-León), 60 kilometres from Laredo. Charles V spent the night here. Enjoy its medieval atmosphere and the Alcázar de los Velasco, a stunning, 14th-century castle.

Some 100 kilometres further on is the city of Burgos, whose Arco de Santa María represents the figure of Charles V. The Cathedral, which has the UNESCO World Heritage designation and the Las Huelgas Royal Monastery are other gems you can see here.

Once in the province of Palencia, you can travel to Venta de Baños, 90 kilometres from Burgos. Legend has it that Charles V ordered the construction of the church of San Juan de Baños after noting the curative properties of one of its fountains and by way of thanks. It is a Visigoth basilica that is well worth visiting.

After crossing beautiful, unique areas such as Dueñas you will come to the province of Valladolid and its capital city (37 kilometres from Venta de Baños). Here the emperor stayed in the old Royal Palace. Take a pleasant stroll and see its palaces, Plaza Mayor square, Cathedral and its Santa Cruz Residence. Another tip? Don’t forget to make the journey of just 55 kilometres to Medina del Campo, where you will be welcomed by its impressive La Mota Castle.

Following the route, now in Salamanca province, you will come to Peñaranda de Bracamonte, 55 kilometres from Medina del Campo. Its old town has the Historic-Artistic Site designation. Continue further, to Ávila province, where Barco de Ávila awaits you. Here the emperor received a warm welcome, as you will too. From its castle there is a wonderful view of the Tormes River.

The final stage starts in the province of Cáceres, in Extremadura. There, Jarandilla de la Vera, 90 kilometres from Barco de Ávila, is outstanding for its Charles V Parador Hotel, a palace packed with history where the king himself stayed. 9 kilometres further on, the route finishes in Cuacos de Yuste. Here, at the Monastery and in its adjacent palace (whose distribution is very similar to that of the palace where the monarch was born) Charles V spent his last days. When you see the beauty of the place you will understand why he chose it.


If, besides history, you are also a sports enthusiast, then this route will be perfect for you. If water sports are your thing, you can go sailing, surfing or scuba diving, or take boat trips in Laredo. For hiking fans, Cantabria, Castile-León and Extremadura all have signposted routes where you can explore the local countryside. You will love their viewpoints, walks through chestnut forest, waterfalls and natural swimming pools to be found at the “Garganta de los Infiernos” (hells’ gorge) Nature Reserve in the province of Cáceres. Horse riding, caving, river canoeing, climbing, paragliding and hot air balloon flights round off the options.


To relive the spirit of this route on your way, we recommend the following events held in honour of the emperor. The “final disembarkation of Charles V” is celebrated in Laredo at the end of September. You will be surprised to see the local people in period dress. You can buy typical products at the Renaissance market and attend fireworks displays and concerts, mingle with nobles and jongleurs, and see knights demonstrating their courage with the lance.

Another vital date is the “Route of the Emperor” Cultural Tourism Walk, which takes place from Laredo to Medina de Pomar in mid-October. The route runs over 40 kilometres and recreates the atmosphere of the 16th century on forest trails and livestock paths. When you get to Medina de Pomar you can take part in a medieval dinner or watch a representation of the arrival of Charles V.

The Route of Charles V has all this and much more to offer: delicious gastronomy, wonderful places to spend the night… Any time of year is good to make this journey, although perhaps the most pleasant temperatures will be in spring. You can do the whole route or the stages you choose in your own vehicle – the route is well signposted. Become a dreamer and travel back to the times of this historic emperor.

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