Calendario, the best kept secret (and tastiest of Salamanca)

Salamanca is located in the Community of Castilla y Leon, and at the level of the Sierra of the same name is located this rural village called Calendario; which is part of the network of the most beautiful villages in the country. Not only for the charm of its streets and houses, but also for its natural environment; declared by the Unesco Natural Reserve of the Biosphere, due to its lush forests, full of oaks, pines, chestnut trees and its beautiful fauna.

Since 1975 the urban center of this rural village of Calendario has been recognized as “Conjunto Histórico Artístico”; which has also led it to be the most photographed place by tourists. Besides being remembered for the activity and development in the past of the art of sausages, supplying virtually the entire peninsula, ie, the sausage was its main base.

What can we see in the historic center of the town of Calendario?

Walking through the old town does not take long. Its steep streets have channels through which water flows down from the Sierra and are called watering cans, which once served to clean the blood left by the slaughter of pigs. 

The fountains are also contemplated, 18 in total; among them are the fountain La Romana, the Cruz de Piedra, La Carretera, Arrabal, among others. It is said that it has so many fountains because in the past this town had 3 entrances, and in each one of them 3 of these Roman fountains were built; which still persist today. 

The houses present something very particular, because they have what they call the “batipuerta”; that is to say, wooden doors at half height, that were necessary so that the snow that accumulated in great quantity, more or less up to the knee, did not penetrate in the entrance of the houses in the winter time; it also protected them from the cold.

But this was not the only utility of these doors. They also prevented the animals that lived with them from entering or leaving. Internally these houses had 3 floors, and on the top floor, at the level of the balconies, they hung the pork products to dry them; thanks to the seasonal cold. 

Also in this historic center is located the “Museo de la Casa Chacinera”, remembering that the sausage was the most important base in the history of this town, since the seventeenth century. Activity that was a tradition and passed from generation to generation, reaching its splendor in the nineteenth century.

Also, in this historic center, and at the level of the central part of Calendario, in the highest area, is located the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. It has a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Mudejar styles, and dates back to 1329, when the first stone was laid for its construction. 

Next to the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is the Town Hall building, dating from the nineteenth century. The façade and the stone stairs on the inside of the building are striking. 

You can also visit the Ermita del Humilladero or Ermita Santísimo Cristo del Refugio, built between the XV and XVI centuries, and where the sculpture of this Santísimo Cristo, dating from the time of the Catholic Monarchs, is located. This church has the images of Cristo Amarrado a la Columna and San Vicente Ferrer.

What was the activity of the chacinería (pork butchery) like?

As already mentioned, between the XVIII and XIX centuries and even at the beginning of the XX century, the town of Calendario had its great boom in the sausage industry; to the point that there were up to 103 houses dedicated to this activity. 

These houses of chestnut wood, forge and stone had 3 levels; the first floor, where the slaughter of the pigs took place, the intermediate or 2nd floor, for the housing of the owners and the 3rd floor, where the products were dried. This activity began in November and lasted until February. 

There were 15 pigs and 1 ox, and both El Trevedal’s and La Garganta’s farmhands would go to the village to help in the slaughtering, together with the different families and neighbors. These young men stayed in the houses where they worked until the day of the Candelaria celebration, February 2; they attended mass and then left for their villages.

The animals were sacrificed in the street. They were tied to the door and from the inside the person in charge of the sacrifice would stand behind the door and carry out his work without being splashed with blood; and the animal could not escape or enter the house. The starting time was very early and until 12 noon, then everything was cleaned thanks to the watering cans in the streets. 

But with the arrival of the 20th century the industrialization of the factories was increasing, and it was when this activity in Calendario began to decline; to the point that today there is only 1 house that is still dedicated to the slaughtering. However, the new generations have the opportunity to learn about how this work was and the importance it had, through the Museum of the Casa Chacinera. 

What other activities can be done in the village of Calendario?

In Miranda de Castañar, on a hill, you can see the castle of Castañar, dating from the fourteenth and fifteenth century, built on another defense, with its walls still standing and retains its 4 doors; about 98 km from the province of Salamanca. The streets are narrow, with cobblestone floors and houses well imprisoned.

Likewise, the municipality of Mogarraz is also located. Its urbanism is very typical medieval, with wooden trusses that are filled with masonry, but what is most striking about the place are the portraits on the facades of the houses; a little more than 600 portraits. That is why it is also called the “town of 1000 faces”. 

This is due to the fact that in 1967 everyone had to have their ID card. Then, the first mayor, named Alejandro Martin, so that the inhabitants did not have to travel to Salamanca, placed a white sheet and a camera in the cellar of his parents, so that each one could take the respective photo, so that little by little they were all parading. These negatives were kept until 2012, when they were discovered by a local artist, Florentino Mailo.

This artist came up with the idea of making an exhibition of these portraits and reproduced on a large scale some 388 photographs, painting on metal sheets and with a combination of oil paints with beeswax, called encaustic technique. Subsequently, they were hung in the house where each portrait subject lived. 

Those who did not have their own house, had emigrated or sold it, were hung in the church; in addition, then the current neighbors were added, reaching about 700 portraits. The exhibition was held and the artist, at the end of it, gave them the photographs, and today they are the symbol of this municipality.

Also, from Calendario, expeditions are carried out to get to know the natural paradise that surrounds them. They are the hiking routes, some more complex than others, depending on the taste of each one. You can reach the summit of the Alvitero peak, which is the highest. Likewise, there are the Lagunas del Trampal, glacier waters or the Paraje Hoya Moros. 

In summer, the town celebrates its patron saint festivities. Between the 5th and 6th of August, in the Plaza Mayor, the Virgen de las Nieves is celebrated and they dress in their typical costumes. Since 1989 it has been listed as a place of Regional Tourist Interest. For winter sports and skiing there is the ski resort of La Covatilla, with its 20 km of extension. 

Posted in Europe, Salamanca, Spain.