Valladolid is the capital of Spain's largest province, Castile-Leon, located in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula 200 kilometres northwest of Madrid. To passers-by it may seem nothing more than a sprawling, modern and heavily industrialised city. But look a little closer and you'll find a wealth of treasures in this former medieval town where King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella married in the 15th century and where Christopher Columbus died, a broken man, in 1506.
Beyond the modern buildings, factories and hustle and bustle of city life lie many reminders of a glorious era when Valladolid was the capital of Spain's powerful empire.
The city is rich in ancient churches, museums and monuments and is famous for its university which was founded in the 13th century and is the second oldest in Spain, after that of Salamanca. One of Valladolid's major claims to fame is that the people here speak the purest form of Castilian (the main Spanish language).
The Valladolid International Film Festival in October is Spain's major showcase for new international films and is one of the country's biggest and most prestigious festivals attracting some 80,000 visitors.
The city's famous Holy Week processions at Easter and a riotous fiesta in September also bring visitors from far and wide.
Spring or autumn are the best times to visit because Valladolid is located at the heart of the Meseta Central plateau and is bitingly cold in winter and blisteringly hot in summer.
The city's Vallanubla Airport has daily flights to and from Barcelona which serves all the major European capitals. The Spanish capital of Madrid is a two hour drive to the south east via the N-403 national road and A-6 motorway.
Places of interest worth visiting during your stay here include the beautiful cathedral, commissioned in 1580 by King Felipe II and finally consecrated in 1699. The Museo Nacional de Escultura (National Sculpture Museum) houses a magnificent collection of intricately carved and painted religious sculptures and the building itself is an impressive example of Spanish Renaissance architecture.
One of Spain's most famous sons, writer and poet Miguel Cervantes who penned Don Quixote, lived and wrote in Valladolid for many years and his former home has now been turned into a museum in his memory.
When you've exhausted the city's wealth of cultural and historic sights, relax in one of the excellent restaurants to be found here. You're in the "land of the wines" so make sure you sample a glass or two of Ribera de Duero, Rudea or Cigales - names renowned among wine connoisseurs worldwide.
Take a stroll through one of the many attractive parks and gardens which offer a taste of the countryside in the heart of the city. Peacocks strut freely in the Campo Grande park and ducks make a beeline for visitors bearing bags of stale bread.
Fishing, boating and swimming are all available courtesy of the the Pisuerga River which passes through this otherwise dry Castilian city.
Valladolid's 20,000-strong student population ensures there are plenty of lively bars and discos to keep you entertained until the small hours.
The city is also well placed for some fascinating day trips and excursions to historic centres such as Salamanca, Segovia and Burgos.