As a kid growing up in Northern Ontario, I often stared out at the open horizon of Lake Huron and imagined the Mediterranean as seen from Spain. I’ve yet to get there, but this guest post from gives a few good reasons to go.

Spanish Paradores are restored castles, palaces and monasteries that combine authentic historical surroundings and modern conveniences in a unique accommodation. Staying in one of these ancient buildings is an ideal way to go beyond Spain’s classic tourist sites and experience history within the culturally vibrant Hispanic world. Here are five of our favourites:

Parador de Cardona

1. Parador de Cardona

An overnight stay in a real knight’s castle is on offer at the stunning Parador de Cardona. The hotel is located in the impressive ancient castle of Cardona which has been painstakingly restored and transformed to a contemporary hotel. Enchanting and authentic medieval features like stone towers and battlements mix with many modern luxuries. Antique paintings and furnishings provide a charming and romantic environment alongside all of the features expected from a 4 star hotel.

2. Parador de Baiona

Another of Spain’s great old castles, the Parador de Baiona has been transformed into a romantic luxury hotel overlooking the beautiful coastal landscape of southern Galicia. Skilfully restored to its medieval splendor, the castle’s interior features arched hallways, original stone staircases, knights’ armour and antiques. Guests walk the battlements and scan the horizon just as the castle guards once did, although it is likely that they didn’t enjoy the same lavish, comfortable bedrooms.

3. Parador de Zafra

This beautiful hotel is located in the mighty fortress of Zafra, originally built for the powerful Duchess of Feria. Built in 1437, the stunning castle façade has been carefully restored to its former glory. Many of the old features have been saved including coffered ceilings, iron railings and the beautiful inner courtyard. This 4 star hotel also offers modern comforts, including elegant bedrooms which once hosted Hernan Cortes, a Spanish conquistador from the 16th century.

Parador de Zafra

4. Parador de Soria

One of the more modern Paradores, the Parador de Soria is located in peaceful forest surroundings and offers breathtaking views of the historic city of Soria and the beautiful Duero Valley. This hotel has been designed to offer light, spacious modern accommodation in a traditional Spanish architectural style and the restaurant provides a delicious taste of local cuisine.

5. Parador de Tortosa

Built in the 10th century, the Parador de Tortosa offers an elegant combination of original stone features and a charming interior featuring large Catalan Gothic windows. The surrounding historic town of Tortosa has a rich and varied past combining Roman, Muslim and Christian rule, influences that are reflected in the hotel’s gothic, classic and Arabian features. Guests enjoy four star amenities and stunning views over the lush landscape of the Tarragona region.

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