No part of Spain speaks so eloquently of the country’s warring past as Castilla y León. Its warrior kings carried the battles of the Reconquista to the Moorish conquerors and won back the Iberian Peninsula league by bloody league. The northern pair of cities in this chapter, León and Burgos, held the grand castles from which Christian armies marched and great cathedrals glorified the faith. Just south of them were the fortress cities that staked out the Christian turf in the 7-century struggle between the cross and the crescent. As you approach them, imagine that you are leading an invading army. After a long march, you finally reach the outskirts of Segovia, Ávila, or Zamora. You crane your neck to look up at the walled fortress city high on the hill. Its defenders have been watching your arrival for days, and their swords are ready. . . . It is the tale of central Spain written over and over—only the names of the invaders and defenders changed.
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