Castile & Leon
The region of Castilla y León is set on the northern part of the Spanish "Meseta". With a total surface area slightly larger than the island of Ireland or the state of Indiana in the United States and close to 2.5 million inhabitants, the nine provinces that make up the Autonomous Region of Castilla y León offer a fascinating diversity of artistic and natural attractions.
The Spanish language originated approximately eleven centuries ago from the Latin language as a popular language in the mountainous region of the north of Castilla y León. From that time, and until the 15th century, it spread to the south of Spain with the expansion of the kingdom of Castilla, and from there it travelled to America, during the rise of the Golden Age of Spanish art and culture, closely linked to Castilla y León and to its cities. But not only did Castilla y León witness the flourishing of the Spanish language in its artistic and scientific expression; its inhabitants spoke a very pure form of Spanish, without any strong accents, considered to be the standard variety of the Spanish language in the entire Spanish-speaking world. Spanish is a fairly homogeneous language, and no form is "more or less correct" than another, but it is true when we say that the Spanish you learn in Castilla y León is the easiest to understand anywhere in the world. More than 400 million people speak Spanish as their mother tongue and for daily conversation.
The Spanish-speaking world, particularly in the United States, is gaining increasing importance, in terms of both culture and economy. It is therefore not surprising that young people from all over the world want to learn Spanish, as an important aspect of their education and a factor of qualification, or as a tool for cultural exchange with a significant part of the population. Also business people who want to survive in this world of globalisation are in growing need of Spanish-speaking staff to communicate with a highly promising market. Spanish is a relatively easy language to learn. Phonetics is easy and so is spelling; verbs can be tricky, but the grammar rules are quite simple. Furthermore, learning Spanish in Castilla y León is twice as rewarding.
Thanks to its history, so closely linked with the local art and culture, Castilla y León is the ideal place to study the Spanish language in its historical and cultural context. For a fascinating glimpse into the history of art, all you have to do is walk the streets or visit any of the villages in the region. And remember, those who walked those same streets many centuries ago, spoke the same language as those who do now. Castilla y León is home to an extensive network of cultural routes with an important historical interest and has an impressive number of castles, palaces, churches, cathedrals, hermitages and monasteries: more than half of Spain's historical-artistic heritage can be found in the cities and villages of Castilla y León, providing visitors with a truly "living" museum experience. The abundance of this extraordinary heritage, covering nearly all periods of Spanish history, and its excellent state of preservation are of a truly exceptional value. Therefore, learning Spanish in Castilla y León is not just learning a language: it is the opportunity to live a unique cultural experience, which the schools and universities of the region know exactly how to offer.
Castilla y León is the leading region in Spain in rural and adventure tourism. The large number of charming small towns located in the most varied of settings is due in large part to the fact that the economic history of Castilla y León over the past century was more focussed on agricultural than industrial development. This has left us with a rural setting which maintains its popular traditions and the tranquillity of farm life, together with a very well conserved natural heritage. In addition to the austere landscape of the Castilian plains and the infinite landscapes of the cereal plateau, Castilla y León offers lively rivers and fertile valleys for practicing the most enjoyable and intrepid adventure sports, in addition to unbeatable mountain areas with streams, forests and ravines which allow the visitor to follow a variety of hiking, horse riding, mountain biking and even rafting routes. The extensive network of rural accommodation which exists in Castilla y León not only offers a taste of the quiet country or mountain village life, but also great samples of popular gastronomy and leisure, sports and adventure opportunities for all tastes.
Studying Spanish in Castilla y León will give the visitor the opportunity to enjoy the rich and varied gastronomical heritage which our community possesses. From the great cooking ‘temples' to the most humble family stoves, the traveller will be able to see why the Spaniards are famous for making the most of any occasion, from the most routine to the most special, to sit around a table and enjoy a plentiful meal or lean on the bar, or a series of them, and taste the widest variety of ‘tapas'. Both in the case of ‘tapas' (called ‘miniature cuisine' by modern people) and table and tablecloth cuisine, the evolution of the traditional recipes has given way to a vogue of great imagination and brilliance, without forgetting the basics and the raw materials which are of great quality in our region, and creating new ways of enjoying the pleasures of the palate. The wines of the region deserve a special and no less important mention, considered by the most prestigious tasters to be comparable in quality and production to the best wines in the world. The five designations of origin of Castilla y León, thanks to their quality, are acquiring greater prestige and renown around the world day by day.
Many visitors to Castilla y León are particularly attracted by the small, hospitable and safe cities spread across the region, in which life is concentrated around the historical centres; very pleasant places to live and to enjoy from the very first moment. Visiting these small cities and wandering through their streets and alleys filled with art and history is a real pleasure. The locals are not used to mass tourism, but they are very friendly and warm-hearted people, and always open to conversation with the foreign students. And just like any other vibrant student city, the cities of Castilla y León offer excellent leisure opportunities, a rich cultural life and streets filled with the typical hustle and bustle of any other Spanish city. There are also plenty of leisure and entertainment options for those seeking nightlife. Nothing to envy from the big cities!
Due to the effect of the surrounding mountain ranges, the Autonomous Region of Castilla y León is dominated by a continental climate with Mediterranean influence. Winters are cold, with frequent night frosts, and summers are fairly short and mild, with large differences between day and night temperatures. With the exception of the river areas, characterised by frequent winter fogs, Castilla y León is a bright and sunny region almost all year round. The average rainfall in the area is low, with the highest rainfall occurring in summer and the lowest in spring.
Castilla y León and Salamanca in particular are world leaders in the field of Spanish language courses for foreigners. Other regions and countries are also becoming increasingly involved in this type of activity, but they lack the experience and tradition of the language schools and universities of Castilla y León. This can be felt from the very moment you walk through the door, in the classroom, in the daily interaction with the teachers, and in terms of efficiency in providing the best possible service to ensure the complete satisfaction of the students. The teaching staffs at these schools and universities have a strong and successful tradition in the field of Spanish language teaching, and most centres have developed their own methodology and teaching materials. Knowing and understanding the needs of the tens of thousands of students that come to study in Castilla y León every year has given them the ability to satisfy their students' expectations in a very natural way.
The cities of Castilla y León are young and student-oriented places, and this is mainly due to the atmosphere and excitement that surrounds university life. Four public and four private universities offer university studies in all provincial capitals, combining historical tradition and prestige with modern-day life. The initial history of the Spanish language, largely based on the development of medieval culture, gave us two of the oldest universities in the world, with almost eight centuries of history: the University of Salamanca and the University of Valladolid.