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Where are the coldest places in Spain?

The Local Spain
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Where are the coldest places in Spain?
Snow covers the Ungino mountain in the northern Spanish Basque village of Izoria. AFP PHOTO / RAFA RIVAS (Photo by RAFA RIVAS / AFP)

Those who think Spain is always warm and sunny haven't visited the country's interior in the middle of winter. There are certain Spanish cities, towns and villages where sub-zero temperatures are very common.

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Spain is a country of dramatic contrasts in its summer and winter temperatures, especially in non-coastal areas.

In August it can reach well above 40°C in some regions, but in January in many areas temperatures below freezing are often recorded. 

The Meseta Central is a huge plateau covering a large part of Spain's interior. It's fairly flat, it's split into a northern and southern meseta by mountain ranges and has average altitude of 700  to 800 metres above sea level.

This leads to extreme contrasts in temperature between summer and winter for hundreds of the cities, villages and towns located on this tableland inland in Spain.

The regions of Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Aragón and Madrid tend to be the coldest in Spain during winter, as do cities located in these autonomous communities such as Burgos, León, Ávila, Soria, Teruel, Valladolid, Salamanca, Segovia, Madrid and Toledo.

Burgos is said to be the coldest of all with an average winter temperature of 10.7C.

Surrounding the Meseta Central are many mountain ranges (Spain is among the most mountainous countries in Europe), all of which can get just as bitterly cold in winter, if not more than Spain's gigantic plateau. That means that high-altitude cities that are comparatively closer to the coast such as Granada in Andalusia and Vitoria in the Basque Country also tend to be bitter cold in winter. 

A woman passes by a thermometer displaying 2 degrees below zero during a cold winter day in Burgos, considered to be Spain's coldest city. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)
 

 

So where have the coldest temperatures ever in Spain been recorded?

Vega de Liordes, Castilla y León

On January 7th 2021, Spain's weather agency Aemet confirmed that Spain recorded its coldest temperature ever since records began. This was a freezing cold −35.8 °C. It was recorded in Vega de Liordes, located within the Picos de Europa National Park in the province of León, and is well below the coldest temperature ever recorded in the UK, which was −27.2 °C in Scotland in 1995. 

This was not the first time the region of Castilla y León recorded record-breaking low temperatures. In the city of Burgos, temperatures of -22°C and -21°C were registered in 1975 and 1885 respectively.

Pallars Sobirà, Lleida, Catalonia

One day earlier on January 6th, Spain recorded its second coldest temperature ever. The bitterly cold temperature of −34.1°C was registered in Pallars Sobirà, located in Catalonia’s Lleida province in the Pyrenees. The same area recorded another of Spain’s coldest temperatures in February of 1956. This was a temperature of −26°C.

Catalonia’s province of Lleida often features on the lists of Spain’s coldest places. The province’s Lake Estangento recorded some of the country's lowest temperatures of −32°C in February 1956, −26°C in 1954 and −24°C in 1954.

These coldest temperatures ever recorded in Spain coincided with storm 'Filomena', which brought the “heaviest snowfall in years” across much of the country, including the capital of Madrid. 

It's not surprising that this province is home to several ski resorts, including one of Spain's best - Baqueira/Beret. 

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Calamocha, Teruel, Aragón

The town of Calamocha, located in Aragón’s Teruel province, regularly records some of the coldest temperatures in the country. In December 1963, the town recorded a temperature of −30°C, and again experienced record-breaking freezing temperatures in December 1963, January 1971, and January 1974 of −27° C, −24.5°C, and −24.4°C respectively.

In fact, the province of Teruel as a whole, is one of the coldest provinces in Spain, often featuring in the list of places that have recorded the coldest temperatures in Spain. The town of Monreal del Campo twice recorded temperatures of −28° C in December 1963 and January 1971.

While Teruel city itself recorded three of Spain’s coldest temperatures of  −22°C in January 1945, −21.5°C in January 1952 and −21°C in January 1971.

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold? 

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Molina de Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha

Located in the province of Guadalajara, the municipality of Molina de Aragon features three times on Spain’s list of the 15 coldest temperatures ever recorded in the country. In January 1952, it recorded a temperature of −28.2°C, in December 1963 it reached −28°C and in January 1947 it registered −26.7°C.

Sabiñánigo, Huesca, Aragón

It’s not just Aragón’s Teruel province that regularly records some of Spain’s coldest temperatures. The province of Huesca often does too. The municipality of Sabiñánigo recorded a bitterly cold −25 °C in January 1954 a decidedly chilly −24.8 °C again in February 1954. 

Huesca too is home to one of the country's largest and best ski resorts − Formigal. 

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