Here’s something not many people know about me: I can ‘nurse’ a chocolate bar for hours.
Yup. You can give me a regular-sized Toblerone, for instance, and it can take me the whole day to eat it— only because I want to relish it down to its last gooey bit. Not that this information is of great import to the general population. I’m just saying if you want to know the way to my heart, well, you know what to do.
So given this predilection for anything chocolatey, it was such a treat to find myself in a town where apparently, chocolate production was a booming business in the 17th century.
Formerly known as Asturica in its Roman days, Astorga is home to some of the most astonishing monuments in Spain; including the gothic Sta. Maria Basilica and Antonio Gaudi’s Episcopal Palace which is an important pit stop for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela. More interestingly, it also has a sweet past being the chocolate capital of Spain from the 1600s up to the early 1900s. Its golden year was 1924 when there were a total of 51 registered chocolate manufacturers in the city.
If you somehow find your self in Astorga, make sure to drop by the Museo del Chocolate (Chocolate Museum) along Calle Jose Maria Gay. Originally established by Lopez Garcia Diaz in 1994, it is now owned by the Astorga Town Council.
The Chocolate Museum is a must-see for chocolate lovers as it gives a very comprehensive lesson on the history of chocolate in Spain. The ground floor features a photographic exhibit of the raw materials used for making chocolate such as the gathering of the cacao plant, the fermentation process up to drying and processing.
Chocolate-making tools like the metate or chocolate maker, wooden molds and grinders are also on exhibit here.
There were more to see on the second floor but I wasn’t too keen on climbing the stairs hahaha. There were still so many things to see on the ground floor anyway, such as these beautiful vintage maps and a collection of printed chocolate wrappings and advertising posters.
I particularly loved these vintage chocolate tin cans!
Our Chocolate Museum tour ended at the gift shop. The sheer number of chocolate bars on stock could drive any chocolate lover crazy. It was a shame I wasn’t able to buy anything–not even a single chocolate bar–because we had to rush to our next location. *Sigh*
When we got out of the Museum, we chanced upon an outdoor market at the square.
These stalls reminded me of the stalls in my hometown in Ibajay.
These jars of homemade jams and honey looked so tasty!
I can still remember the delicious smell of these freshly-baked bread.
Finally, with still a few minutes left, we went inside Confiteria La Mallorquina which happens to be one of the oldest pastry shops in Astorga.
These pastries were really mouth-watering. But it was the Eclair-looking ones that caught my eye.
Walking back to our bus, I was filled with child-like happiness. It was such a perfectly sweet day! Can you guess how long it took me to finish eating my pastry? 😉
The Chocolate Museum
Calle José María Gay, 5
24700 Astorga, León (Castile-Leon)
This post is part of my series on my recent travel to Spain aboard the Al Andalus. Read my previous posts here:
This trip was made possible by: