To the north of the province of Cáceres and sheltered by the Sierra de Gredos is one of the most beautiful historical and natural regions in the center of the peninsula. We are talking about a place full of beautiful and welcoming towns, with an exquisite gastronomy and thousands of options to practice rural tourism in an incomparable natural setting.
Precisely related to rural tourism, we want to show you some of the charms that the tobacco dryers of La Vera have managed to put into operation in this peculiar region of Extremadura after reinventing themselves. Are you interested in knowing more about it?
La Vera, tobacco and paprika
There are numerous crops that are produced in La Vera, such as fig trees, cherry trees, chestnut trees, apple trees, walnut trees, almond trees or pear trees, which have been part of the economy of this region since past times.
In addition, it is a place of abundant water, which allows surprises such as the kiwi, not very distant implantation. This coexists with all the products of the garden that we can imagine, as well as with all the fruits that traditionally grew in the so-called “gavias”. These were small plateaus of land supported by stone walls that disappeared up the mountain.
Nonetheless, the two banners of this region are undoubtedly tobacco and paprika. The latter is widely used in Spanish gastronomy, and it is in La Vera that the highest quality paprika in the world is produced.
In fact, La Vera paprika has a designation of origin and in the Verato municipality of Jaraíz you can enjoy an interesting museum dedicated to its history and cultivation.
Tobacco also came from America after its “discovery” and settled in this area, which is the first national producer of this crop. The different processes in its drying have evolved over the years, which has left a large number of peculiar dryers throughout the region.
The tradition of the tobacco dryers of La Vera
The dryers are constructions now in disuse mainly due to the implementation of new technologies. They are distributed throughout the Tiétar plains and represent a new attraction within the so-called rural tourism.
Its main use was the drying of the tobacco plant. They are built with two waters and two heights, sometimes three; they have an overwhelming simplicity, they are elongated and with the windows boarded up with bricks, one yes and the other not, to let the air pass, as if it were a beehive.
In them, after the harvest season, the tobacco plant spent a certain time until its complete drying, to then advance to subsequent processes of crushing and chemical treatment in specialized factories.
New technologies and the advancement of science have made these dryers no longer profitable for the big tobacco companies, so many have fallen into disuse. But not all! After reinventing themselves, many of them have acquired the most varied modalities.
New uses, from drying to tourism
The uses that these old constructions have acquired are very diverse. Specifically, in Jarandilla de la Vera we can find beautiful rural houses such as El Secadero. It is an old tobacco dryer that has been renovated and is equipped with all the comforts, with the aim of making the stay of tourists as comfortable as possible.
Here you can enjoy a pleasant climate throughout the year. This makes it possible to eat outdoors and take long walks in the countryside without having to take the car.
Secondly, artists such as Alejandro Sanz have found refuge in this region after taking over their own estate. This was built by joining several tobacco dryers and has 12 hectares of oak forest, more than 300 fig trees, 600 olive trees and 800 chestnut trees.
To top it off, a few years ago the municipality of Navalmoral de la Mata, very close to this region, inaugurated the La Gota Cultural Center, which hosts, among other exhibitions, the Tobacco Museum. The state-of-the-art cultural center building simulates the geometry of a tobacco dryer.
This follows the principle of equality and diversity, which we also see in these vegetables – the leaves are the same, but different at the same time. Undoubtedly, a true standard for lovers of modern architecture.
Certainly, it is difficult to have a more powerful tourist claim than to say that this was the place chosen by an emperor to retire. And even more so if that emperor was Charles V himself, the most powerful man of the moment in the Western world.
In the words of the writer Pedro Prieto Gallego:
“La Vera is a region drawn by wild and vertiginous gorges that, rather than descending, spit the water in a torrent from the heights of the Sierra de Gredos towards the banks of the Tiétar, pooling from time to time in pools of water so crystalline and tempting that , as soon as it gets a little hot, whoever looks at them falls headfirst without knowing why”.
If you accompany nature, which needs little promotion, with a cultural visit or even a peaceful stay in one of the cozy tobacco dryers in La Vera reconverted, you will make your trip an unrepeatable experience.