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Felipe II was born (1527) in Valladolid, and in other circumstances perhaps his home city might have become the permanent Spanish capital, and not Madrid. As it was, Valladolid was only briefly the capital (1601–06), but Felipe’s birthplace, the Palacio de los Pimentel (c/Angustias), has a memorial plaque, and his statue is over the way in Plaza San Pablo. Another surviving palace, Palacio de los Viveros (c/Ramon y Cajal), is where the royal teenagers Fernando and Isabel married in 1469, later to be the “Catholic Monarchs” of a new, triumphant Spain; while the widely travelled Miguel Cervantes spent a few years in the city, too – what’s thought to have been his house (Casa Cervantes, just off c/Miguel Iscar) is now a small museum. However, the city is perhaps proudest of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón), who died here in 1506 – Valladolid devoted an entire year in 2006, and spruced up the old town, to celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of the old mercenary’s demise, and there’s a replica of the house he died in, known as Casa Colón, on c/Colón.

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