Friday, July 25, 2008

May 5th, 2008 - Spanish Paradors

Nothing to do with bull fights, not even another manifestation of the humble umbrella, Paradors are state owned and operated hotels. Founded in 1928, by order of King Alphonso XIII, there are currently 93 such establishments in a nationwide chain. From the beginning they were meant to provide upscale accommodations set at appropriate distance intervals around the country. The timing was perhaps a little inauspicious as the country was rapidly descending into religion fueled anarchy culminating in an exciting three year civil war in 1936. Even at that, Paradors probably provided great vantage points from which to watch the ravages as the country set about slaughtering its own with the generous, if furtive help, of the rest of Europe and the Russians.
But, why would anyone want to stay in a state owned hotel you might ask? Simple - the Paradors are medieval castles, Moorish fortresses, ancient monasteries, pleasing palaces and stately manor houses, all excellently spruced up with taxpayers money. Although one might suspect that the original scheme was simply a clever ruse to get these historic treasures off the governments budget, the plan does seem to be working with the system being both affordable and well used. The first one that we stumbled over was in Cardona shortly after we entered Spain and is a ninth century fortress - more numbing information here.

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