Off the beaten path in Zafra

Zafra is an understated town, bordering Andalucia. Its cobblestone streets, courtyards and geraniums adorning the buildings made it a charming stop-off point as we passed through Extremadura onto Seville. In fact, Zafra would make the perfect stage point in Extremadura for day trips to Merida, Caceres and Trujillo.

On the surface, Zafra has a pueblo blanco look about it. It is a quiet place, with narrow streets, lined with old fashioned shops and neat as a pin houses. It has its share of churches as well, much like other respectful Spanish towns. The white is occasionally broken up by red geraniums.

The main square, Plaza Grande, is punctuated by a stand of palm trees at one end. This makes the plaza a very serene place to enjoy an afternoon tea or coffee. The town has preserved the last two remaining gates to the city – the Door of Jerez and the Arch of Cubo.

It is in Zafra where we found a convent selling biscuits. Traditionally, the nuns have committed never to appear in public but make a living selling modestly priced cakes and biscuits through a wooden hatch. Our experience was somewhat a more modern experience, ringing a bell, placing then paying for our order with the serving nun. The biscuits emerged deliciously crunchy, salty-sweet, and perfectly Zafran, if there is such a thing. We picked up our homemade treats from the cloistered nuns at the 15th century Convento de Santa Clara.

The city is centred around the castle which was formerly a Moorish fortress. Today it serves as a Parador, a distinguished hotel.

After spending a few hours in Zafra, in hindsight it is easy to see why this small Extremaduran town is known as the little Seville. This is a great town to wander around.

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