From the Holy Grail to the Holy City
After the success of the Via Iberica in 2017 we did get quite a few requests for a new edition, both with pre-war cars and classic cars.
We have chosen a completely new route, going through unknown territories in Spain towards Portugal and then up north to the finish in Santiago de Compostela.
The start is in Valencia. The Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus during the Last Supper is supposedly stored in the cathedral of Valencia.
From Valencia we drive west, through the Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla towards Cordoba. We stay mostly in Paradores and special characteristic hotels, sometimes in the middle of town as in Cordoba, sometimes in a Natural Park and sometimes in a rural area.
After five days we cross into Portugal, the Paradores become Pousadas and our main direction starts to become north.
In Evora we have a day of rest. Evora is one of the best tourist destinations of central Portugal, it is a delightful city that exudes Portuguese charm and boasts a vast array of fascinating historical monuments. Evora was historically a major trading and religious centre, a former importance that is reflected in the sheer variety of tourist sites, all of which are all conveniently contained within the city’s ancient walls. Evora is also young and vibrant, with a large student population who attend one of the world’s oldest universities.
From Evora we go north and drive the magnificent Douro valley along the wines famous for their Port. The scenery start to become seriously mountainous. And we cross into Spain. It is now just an easy drive to the Holy City of Santiago de Compostela, the end of a pilgrimage for many, the finish for our 12-day rally.
If you wish so, we bring your car to the Valencia hotel and pick her up again in Santiago de Compostela.
As always with the rallies organised by the Via Flaminia, this is a layback rally where the competition serves the atmosphere, winning is not a goal on itself. Those who want to have a stop for a coffee can do so. No time constraint. The classification is done via navigation and the competition for the last place is sometimes fierce.
There are 30 entry positions for cars up to 1980.
For teams who’s added age is under 100, there is a discount on the rally fee of 1% for each year less then 100, with a maximum of 20% (reference year 2021).
Two decades of bold development has given Spain’s third-largest city some of the most striking architecture in the country, adding to the wealth of elegant art nouveau buildings that line the streets, as well as Gothic and Renaissance monuments. With dynamic museums, a flourishing restaurant scene, lively nightlife, great shops and miles of beach, Valencia is bursting with Mediterranean exuberance.
We will be staying in the Hospes Palau de la Mar Hotel in centre of town. We encourage you to book an additional day prior to the rally and discover Valencia whether it be visiting the The Holy Grail chapel which contains what many people believe is the Holy Grail, the cup which Jesus used at the Last Supper or enjoy some tappas at one of the many bars in the old town.
We leave Valencia on the day with the less traffic, while the Spanish families go to church. First we drive into the geological formations east of Valencia along an artificial lake. After lunch the landscape becomes flatter and the roads become straight.
We will be spending the night in the first of a series of Paradores. This ranch-like Paradores is set beautifully set in nature.
We take the smaller empty roads through the fields to the Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla. Water being a precious resource in Spain, we drive along yet another artificial lake. The road seems to be made for us, fresh asphalt undulates through the pine trees. And since we are here in low season, the roads are empty, just for us !
We found an excellent restaurant overlooking the lake. Of course we will have a delicious lunch there.
The rest of the afternoon we drive in the park until we arrive at the Parador de Cazorla.
|Parador de Cazorla|
Sierra de Cazorla, s/n
|Tel.: +34 953 72 70 75|
It is obvious, we are getting in the dryer regions of Spain, the fields are carefully set out and irrigated. Not only the fields are looking more and more deserted, the roads are deserted too. It is driving at its best while the villages burn in the sun.
After two nights surrounded by nature it is time for Culture. We stay in a wonderful hotel in the center of Cordoba, a city with a vast history reminiscent of the 1001 nights. Actually the Mosque of Cordoba is the most important monument of all the Western Islamic world, and one of the most amazing in the world. But history goes back much further with one of the main bridges coming to us right from the Roman times.
|Las Casas de la Judería de Córdoba|
c/ Tomas Conde nº 10
|Tel.: +34 957 202 095
I had wished to stay some more time in Cordoba, but the rally has to go on, and there is just too much to see and enjoy.
The route will pass the El Castillo de Almodóvar. We can only suggest that you have a stop at this medieval fortress right from the drawing board of What Disney, or was it the other way around ?
Looking at the map you will realise that I am driving from National Park to National Park, this time it is the Parque Natural Sierra de Hornachuelos, a succession of plateaus and rugged gullies, abundantly spills its waters in its search for the Guadalquivir, creating along its transit, orchards full of life.
The roads are just magnificent, great asphalt, slightly hilly, some curves and hardly a vehicle in front of us. And of course another artificial lake. Welcome to the lesser know inner lands of Andalusia.
Today we leave Andalusia and Spain. The scenery immediately seems to change, the vast arid planes make place for villages, small hills and a much friendlier landscape. What does not change is the artificial lakes. Is in my Dutch nature which is drawn towards them or are there just so many artificial lakes ? The Alqueva Dam holding the waters is one of the largest one in Western Europe.
We cross the lake higher up in order to join Monseraz. The graceful medieval village, maintains the magic from ancient times. Made of lime and schist, the historic village is one of the oldest in Portugal. We will be stopping here for lunch.
From there it is not too far to our final destination for the day. Evora is one of the best tourist destinations of central Portugal, it is a delightful city that exudes Portuguese charm and boasts a vast array of fascinating historical monuments. Evora was historically a major trading and religious centre, a former importance that is reflected in the sheer variety of tourist sites, all of which are all conveniently contained within the city’s ancient walls. Evora should not be mistaken for a sleepy old relic that is reliant upon its glorious past, the city is young and vibrant, with a large student population who attend one of the world’s oldest universities.
And since the Via Iberica is all about having a good time, we will be staying two nights in the center of town.
Since we stay two nights in Evora you have all the time to discover this little gem. Evora is a UNESCO site and has a vast Roman and medieval heritage.
And if you are just into relaxing there are many terrases and tapas bars where you can relax and mix with the local (student) population.
This all within easy walking distance from our Pousada.
Searching for the best empty roads, natural beauty and interesting locations we follow the border region between Spain and Portugal.
In the parque Natural de Serrade S. Mameda we have lunch in the Pousada Marvão with the best panoramic views imaginable.
Across the border it is the barren steps again, one of the less developed regions of Spain; straight to our hotel in Alcantara. The name is derived from the Arabic word al-QanTarah meaning “the bridge”
We spend the night in the former convent turned into a stylish hotel.
|Hospederia Conventual de Alcantara|
Carretera Poblado Iberdrola, S/N
|Tel.: +34 927 39 06 38|
We drive back into Portugal and the vegetation turns green again. It is not long before we hit the most challenging road of the rally so far. The asphalt is still good but a multitude of hairpins bring us above the timber line. The drive is definitely worth it. There are many excellent photo opportunities. Don’t forget your camera, it has some remarkable views.
We are heading for Viseu. The small Portuguese city boasts everything you want in a tourist destination: friendly people, clean streets, mountain sunsets, Roman remains, an incredible cathedral, and more parks than you can shake a stick at.
The Pousada Deis a grand 19th-century overlooking the old city of Viseu.
|Pousada de Viseu Charming Spa|
R. do Hospital
|Tel.: +351 21 040 7610|
We leave Viseu for the enchanted Douro valley, where the Porto wines are produced. But first we have to conquer a small and narrow pass without guardrails. No rally without a small challenge.
Having overcome the small pass, we descend towards the Douro river. A Unesco World Heritage site since 2001, the Douro is a majestic wilderness, one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world, but a surprisingly silent place, apart from three bustling weeks of harvest each autumn.
And of course we will be having a wine degustation and lunch at one of the wine houses along the valley.
The narrow, winding roads through the Douro Valley are absolutely spectacular. So much so, in fact, that the stretch to our hotel was voted the best driving road in the world in 2015!
At the end of a rally we are all less eager to get behind the wheels. So today we have a short day. Plenty of time to either have a breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Douro river or to enjoy the five start Grand Hotel at the end of the day.
However, this does not mean there is no great driving in between. We climb out of the Douro Valley along the wine terraces. At first the region is (relatively) populated but soon we find yet another national park with one road and no traffic. Don’t we all love nature ?
The Vidago Palace Hotel is a hotel like we really want for a rally with classic cars. It has the grandeur and style from long gone times and still the contemporary service.
The longest day, so it seems. Lets start with the bad news, the last half of the day is over roads which some of the endurance rallies take, you can definitely make your miles in little time.
Today also has some of the most beautiful driving. The Nacional Parque of Penedes-Geres is know for its biodiversity. After each curve the scenery seems to change. It is truly a remarkable region.
We must admit that some of the roads are not very wide though.
We hope to get the permission to park our cars on the Praza Obradoiro in Santiago de Compostela.
For many pilgrims, Santiago is the end of a long and tiring journey. For us it is the end of a great rally, not as tiring as walking but till demanding on men and machine.
The interior of the Saint Jame’s cathedral is currently under restauration for the holy year (2021). So it is uncertain if we can organise another Botafumeiro for the rally participants. However we can strongly advise you to say another day and enjoy this wonderful city with its many many bars and the daily arrival of pelgrims.
For those who wish so we will pick up your car with a trailer.
|Hostal dos Reis Católicos|
Praza do Obradoiro, 1
15705 Santiago de Compostela
|Tel.: +34 981 58 22 00|
Niek van Helden (NL)
Marian van Helden (NL)
Jan Govers (NL)
Frank Govers (NL)
Aad Duijvestijn (NL)
Marlies Duijvestijn (NL)
Dirk Bellekens (B)
Carine Verbist (B)
Cees Sintenie (NL)
Vera Sintenie (NL)
John Dickinson (UK)
Claire Wilson (UK)
Hansruedi Moser (CH)
Bea Moser (CH)
Wim Peters (B)
Nel Peters (B)
Start: Saturday May 15
Finish: Wednesday May 26
Early booking (before Oct. 15, 2019) for a crew of two: € 5.950, -.
Booking (after Oct. 15, 2019) for a crew of two: € 6.500, -.
To Valencia and back from Santiago from Holland:
Shared cost based on open transporter.
To Valencia and back from Santiago from the UK:
Shared cost based on open transporter.
You are responsible for booking your own flight.
Total rally kilometers: 2100
From Portsmouth -Santander ferry to the first hotel (start): 470 km
From the finish hotel to Bilbao – Porthsmouth ferry: 600 km