Route through some of the best chocolate factories in Spain

Although it is present in our lives all year round, it seems that chocolate, whether in the form of nougat, hot in a good cup, incorporated into different desserts or simply in a tablet or as a bonbon, regains greater prominence during the Christmas holidays. And they know this well in the chocolate factories that exist throughout Spain, which are preparing these days to increase their production and also to open their doors to the numerous visitors who want to learn something more about this exquisite sweet made by hand. from cocoa.

From Lrida to Granada, passing through Vizcaya, Huesca or Guadalajara, we visit some charming towns in search of the best chocolate factories in the country and, along the way, we do a little tourism.

Chocolate Jolonch (Lrida)

This factory is located in the small town of Agramunt (Lrida), one of the oldest in Spain, in operation since 1770. It produces artisan chocolates and its specialty is the typical stone chocolate, considered a native variety of the town, with a grainy and consistent texture, made from cocoa, sugar, rice flour and essences of cinnamon or vanilla. To this day, traditional production methods are still used, which can be seen in its workshop which, according to the owners, is a true museum. The visit to the factory is free. For large groups a tasting is included (1.20 euros). More information here.

The town is home to places such as the Church of Santa María, the Town Hall and old prison and the Plaza Mercadal, worthy of a walk.

Where to sleep: Cal Viladot (Carrer de Si, 26; Telephone: 679 46 33 71), an elegant six-bedroom rural house with an impressive living-dining room presided over by the private library of the previous owner, the artist Guillem Viladot.

Where to eat: Restaurant Atpic (Plaza Mercat, 6; Telephone: 687861219) offers innovative signature cuisine.

Kaitxo (Vizcaya)

Kaitxo was born in the Biscayan town of Balmaseda from the passion for gourmet chocolates of its founders Jon Mikel and Raquel. Created in 2017, the family brand is dedicated to making coffees and chocolates. The latter come from cocoa treated in excellent conditions and their products are developed through a bean-to-tablet process, “an artisanal technique that aims to maximize the flavor of cocoa.” They offer guided tours of the workshop to discover how they make chocolates and roast coffees, in addition to all the processes necessary to make a chocolate bar. The duration is approximately 1 hour and a half, and includes a chocolate tasting. Price: 15 euros. More information and reservations here.

Balmaseda is worth a walk to discover its rich cultural heritage, such as the church of San Severino and the Gothic temple of San Juan, as well as its Old Bridge with its tower.

Where to sleep: Horkasitas Palace (Horkasitas Auzoa, 69; Telephone: 686 37 22 10), a palace from 1966 considered a historical monument, surrounded by forests, with 7 rooms on three floors.

Where to eat: Located in an old cloistered convent of nuns from the 17th century, the San Roque Restaurant (Convento de Santa Clara, Campo de las Monjas, 2, Balmaseda; Telephone: 946 102 268) offers traditional Basque cuisine.

Chocolate Bresc (Huesca)

In the year 1836, the Bresc-Escol family decided to buy a part of the second Piarist convent in the Huesca town of Benabarre to be the headquarters of the Bresc chocolate factory. In 1875, a long family tradition of master chocolatiers began, where, today, quality chocolates continue to be produced. Currently, the development of the company follows the course undertaken by great-grandfather Francisco Bresc, with the current management of the great-great-grandson of the first Bresc chocolatier, Xavier, who at the age of 16 decided to continue the family tradition and abandon his studies to delve deeper into the trade and growing in this world of chocolate. Medallions, grajeados and artisan chocolates are some of his specialties.

In the center of the town of Huesca, next to the church, you can visit the Obrador Museum from the 16th century. XVIII, located in the Bresc house, where you can see how chocolate was made centuries ago. In addition, the visit can be completed by strolling through the charming medieval town of Benabarre, guarded by its castle. More information and visits here.

Where to sleep: Casa Rural Benabarre L’Era (Sta. Ana, s/n; Telephone: 619 70 73 19), accommodation for 9 people with garden, terrace, fireplace…

Where to eat: Homemade local cuisine at Restaurante Can Pere (El Abeto, 5; Telephone: 974543141).

Iturbe Chocolates (Guadalajara)

under the brand Chain, Since 1900, the Iturbe family has been manufacturing their own artisanal chocolate in Molina de Aragn (Guadalajara) in two presentations: powder and tablet, and they do so while preserving the machinery of their ancestors. More information here.

Walled and crowned by a castle, the medieval town of Molina de Aragn is worth a walk through its historic center to enjoy its great monumental wealth. The Jewish neighborhood, the Mulberry neighborhood, the monastery of San Francisco or the Romanesque bridge, are symbols of the beautiful town.

Where to sleep: Parador de Santa Rita (Santa Rita, 26; Telephone: 661919939), a rural accommodation in a stone house built in 1826.

Where to eat: Homemade food (as a specialty, torreznos) in La Ribera (P. los Adarves, 4; Tel.: 949 831 957).

Grandma Ili Chocolate (Pomegranate)

This factory opened in 2007 is located in the spectacular town of Pampaneira, the jewel of Granada’s Alpujarra. Abuela Ili Chocolate was born as a tribute to the owner’s mother, Mauricio, and her daughter. From his store in said town, which receives thousands of tourists annually, he distributes chocolate to different cities in the country. The store can be visited to see how they make their wide variety of artisanal chocolates. They carry out tastings. More information here.

Where to sleep: Cueva de Cora (Pampaneira) is an idyllic rural house with a single room.

Where to eat: Casa De La Abuela (Calle Real, 10; Telephone: 638471330) is a restaurant with homemade local cuisine.

Valor Chocolates (Alicante)

In the center of the Alicante coastal town of Villajoyosa is the Valor Chocolate Museum, created in 1998, which was once the brand’s small family factory. There, those interested can learn about the chocolate making process and the entire history of the firm from its birth to the present. Five generations of master chocolatiers have already run the emblematic company. The visit includes a tour of the company’s collection of machinery used in different periods, from the times when cocoa was ground on stone to the present day. Admission to the museum is free, upon reservation. More information here.

In addition to Chocolates Valor, Marcos Tonda Chocolates, Clavileo Chocolates either Prez Chocolates They have factories in the Alicante town.

Where to sleep: Hotel Censal (Av. del Pas Valenci, 25; Tel.: 966 850 017), next to the Chocolate Valor museum with comfortable rooms with views of the bay and the city of Villajoyosa.

Where to eat: Valencian paella, tapas and seafood at Taverna El Psit (Av. del Port, 23; Telephone: 966 85 15 19).

Chocolate Museum of Astorga (Len)

The monumental municipality of Astorga would not be what it is without its chocolate past. The production of this sweet was one of the main industries of the town and the region between the 18th and 20th centuries. Given the importance that this type of production had in the area, different companies were created whose main objective was to advertise and market the product. All this history can be discovered today in the Astorga Chocolate Museumlocated in a beautiful palace from the beginning of the 20th century that was the house, warehouse and workshop of the Astorgano chocolatier Magn Rubio.

Its museum collection, unique in Spain, houses pieces of different characteristics related to the world of cocoa and chocolate. In addition to old machinery, it has curious pieces related to chocolate advertising. The visit ends with a tasting. Entrance: 2.50 euros. More information here.

Astorga is one of the heritage jewels of the province of León. In addition to the Santa María Cathedral, the Plaza Mayor is another must-visit enclave. It is presided over by the Town Hall, a spectacular 17th century baroque building, and the clock tower. Another indispensable monument, the Episcopal Palace (1889-1931), the work of architect Antonio Gaud.

Where to sleep: Exe Astur Plaza (Plaza España, 2; Tel.: 987 61 76 65) is a small charming hotel located in the Plaza Mayor, just five minutes walk from the Gaud Palace and the Cathedral.

Where to eat: Maragato stew is one of Astorga’s star dishes. It includes seven types of meat, both pork, chicken and beef, as well as chickpeas, potatoes and collard greens. It is the specialty of Casa Maragata I (Hsar Tiburcio, 2. Tel.: 987 61 88 80).

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