Guadalajara, stays in Spain
Capital of the natural region of La Alcarria, Guadalajara, founded in Roman times in the north-east of Castile, takes its name from the Muslims who called it Wad-al-Hayara, the stone river, when they occupied it in the 8th century.
In the 14th century, the Mendoza family left its lasting imprint in the history of the city with the Palace of the Dukes of the Infantado, an honorary title granted by the king. Emblematic of the city, the palace, which now houses the Provincial Museum, presents an architecture where the Gothic, Mudéjar and Flemish arts mix.
As in most Spanish cities, the Plaza Mayor is located in the historic centre of the city. Pedestrians, the surroundings of the square are full of attractive shops and shops as well as numerous inns serving local gastronomy.
Guadalajara has several religious buildings worth a visit for their architecture. First of all, built on an ancient Mudejar mosque, the Cathedral of Santa María la Mayor was later modified in the 17th century.
The church of Santiago, built in the 14th century, also has a baroque façade and the church of San Nicolás el Real, which houses an altarpiece and an alabaster sepulchre from the 15th century.
From 8 to 23 March 1937, the battle of Guadalajara was fought, the last of the great victories of the Republican troops against an Italian expeditionary force hired by General Franco to take Madrid 60 km south-west of the city.
Guadalajara is crossed from east to northeast by a section of the GR-10 that connects Teruel to Madrid; a great opportunity to discover the landscapes that accompany the course of the Tagus while traversing the Sendero de Guadalajara.
Guadalajara sightseeing tours and monuments
Palace of the Infantado
Access: Plaza de los Caídos.
Symbol of the strength of the Mendoza family in the city, it was Iñigo de Mendoza, the second Duke of the Infantado, who commanded this gothic style castle with Mudéjares influences to Juan Guas in 1480. The fifth Duke of the family will adapt a Renaissance style with the addition of balconies on its facade and by removing the columns from the patio of Los Leones.
The palace was almost destroyed by bombardment in 1936. Some parts of it were restored between 1961 and 1973 and now houses the museum of Guadalajara.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm, only on the morning of 15 June to 15 September. Sundays and public holidays from 10 am to 2 pm. Admission: 3 €, reduced price: 1,50 €.
Museum of Guadalajara
Access: Palace of the Infantado. Plaza de los Caídos.
Housed in the ancient palace of the Infantado, the museum proposes a permanent exhibition,’ Transito’, which allows us to understand how the human groups who inhabited the region for centuries, considered life, death, religion and the afterlife.
Celtiberian and medieval remains of the different cultures that have left their traces in the province can be found alongside works by Ribera, La Roldana, Alonso Cano.
Torreón de Alvar Fáñez
Access: Calle Alvar Fáñez de Minaya.
Located in the upper part of the gardens of the Infantado, just next to the park of the Huerta de San Antonío, there are vestiges of the ancient medieval wall. Reconverted into an interpretation centre for the city’s weapons, this tower bears the name of Alvar Fáñes, who reconquered the city in 1085.
Pentagonal in shape, it was erected in the 14th century and was called for centuries as the gateway to the Fair or Christ of the Fair because it was used to communicate with the area where these commercial events took place.
Cathedral of Santa María
Access: Plaza de Santa María.
First erected in the 13th century in a Mudéjar style on an old mosque, the cathedral was remodeled in the 17th century. On top of a brick bell tower, the cathedral houses a magnificent alabaster pulpit and interesting tombs.
Opening hours: every day from 10 am to 1 pm then from 6 pm to 8 pm.
La Alcallería, Barrio de Cacharrerías.
Access: Calle Madrid. Paseo Estación.
Situated in the north-east of the city, between the Henares River and the former royal alcázar, this district of Guadalajara has been home to traditional craftsmen since the Middle Ages. La Alcallería, on one side of the old alcázar, has formed a district apart from the city since its creation in the 9th century by the Andalusians. The church of San Julían was destroyed in the 16th century and the convent of La Merced.
Alcázar Real de Guadalajara.
Access: Calle Madrid.
A Muslim fortress dating from the 9th century, it was converted over time into a palace, then into a fabric factory and army headquarters. It formed a one-hectare enclosure stretching from the barranco del Alamín to the old Madrid road and separated the La Alcallería craft district from the rest of the city.
Located at the western entrance of the city, its vocation was to watch over the outskirts of the valley formed by the Henares River and the Campiña region.
Archaeological excavations and studies were carried out there since 1998, practically destroyed in 1936.
Palacio de la Cotilla
Access: Plaza Marqués de Villamejor. Calle San Esteban.
Former residence of the Marquise de Villamejor, this 17th century palace located in the city centre is currently used by the Municipal School of Arts.
This building was built in the first dekad of the seventeenth century on the site of the houses of Inés de la Cotilla, wealthy lady of Guadalajara. The large, two-storey building has a simple brick facade and a white limestone portal. The interior facade overlooks gardens. Its most famous hall is the Chinese living room overlooking the outside facade.
80 km northeast of Guadalajara.
Sigüenza is a beautiful town of approximately 5000 inhabitants located in the north of the province. Sigüenza is endowed with an architectural heritage which earned it the title of Historical and Artistic Complex in 1965.
The most emblematic examples are the castle, the cathedral and the Plaza Mayor of the city.
Reconverted into a Tourist Parador, the castle was erected, as well as the alcazaba from which there are still important sections of walls, after the Arab invasion in the 8th century.
The cathedral, originally in Romanesque style, was built from 1130 onwards and was later completed in Gothic architecture.
Around the Renaissance style Plaza Mayor, also market square, we discover the canons’ houses, the Town Hall and the Toril Gate.
The medieval train
This medieval train with troubadours, acrobats and waders on board links Madrid (from Chamartín station) to Sigüenza. The programme includes a medieval show and visits to Sigüenza monuments. The train runs several Saturdays from April to June and September to November.
80 km northeast of Guadalajara.
Medieval town with its distant origins and military vocation, Atienza has preserved this architecture inherited from the time when it occupied a strategic frontier site between the Muslim and Christian worlds.
In the old town you can still see the 11th and 12th century ramparts as well as the ruins of its castle built in the 12th century with its keep, towers and imposing gates. There are also Romanesque religious buildings, the Santissima Trinidad (12th, 15th and 16th century) and civil buildings such as the Casa del Cordón (Gothic 15th century).
On the banks of the High-Tagus
The High Tagus Natural Park was created in 2000 in the south-eastern province of Guadalajara. This protected area is home to the largest network of canyons and gorges in Castilla-La Mancha.
The park, which contains beautiful sites such as the Cuervo springs, the Taravilla and Valtablado lagoons, the saltworks and salt marshes of Armallá and Saélices, is also dotted with small towns with landscapes marked by the crossing of the river. Among them: Armallones, Taravilla or Peralejos de las Truchas which is flanked by vertical rocky barriers dug by the waters of the Tagus.
Molina de Aragón
140 km east of Guadalajara.
Molina de Aragón, former lordship of the kings of Castile, border stronghold, kept its medieval urban layout and old quarters.
Dominating the city, Molina Castle, also called Molina de los Caballeros fortress, is in a state of consolidated ruins. It was built by the Andalusians between the 10th and 11th centuries on the remains of a Celtic village and served as a residence for the kings of this Taifa.
Located on a strategic hillside overlooking the surrounding area, it is the largest of the province’s remaining castles. Equipped with ramparts and towers traversed by a walkway, it can be visited on request.
The town of Molina is also equipped with a Romanesque bridge over the Gallo, several palaces dating from the 16th to 18th centuries and numerous religious buildings.
80 km east of Guadalajara.
The landscapes dug by the Tagus that surround Ocentejo present gorges and ravines surrounded by forests and sierras.
Among these is the’ Hundido de Armallones’, a rocky structure that was formed in the 16th century following the collapse of the Alar peak. This area is also home to the Salines de l’ Inesperada, where you can still see the canals and ponds used to harvest salt.
On a rock, defying time, still stands an old castle of Celtiberian origin. The church of Ocentejo is home to works of goldsmithing from the 18th century.
45 km south of Guadalajara.
Medieval atmosphere, residence of noble families and convents founded by the mystic Saint Teresa of Avila, Pastrana, nestled between the Tagus and Tajuña, was one of the most important cities of the province of Guadalajara.
The residence of the Princess of Eboli, the ducal palace (16th century), a Renaissance building designed by Alonso de Covarrubías, is one of these prestigious buildings.
Among those that can be visited are: the College of San Buenaventura (17th century), the convents founded by Saint Teresa of Avila, to whom a museum is also dedicated, those of the Franciscans and Carmen (16th century), which houses the city’s natural history museum. In addition, Pastrana houses a museum of tapestries, which notably exhibits Flemish Tournai tapestries dating from the 15th century.
Zorita de los Canes
55 km south of Guadalajara.
Zorita is located on a rock on the left bank of the Tagus River overlooking the dam area.
Of its castle built between the 12th and 13th centuries, there remains a defensive tower and an iron gate, a chapel and a room known as the Moro. One can still penetrate into Zorita through a gate pierced in the old walls of the XIIIth century. Once you have climbed up to the castle, a splendid panorama is offered on this part of the Alcarria and on the village.
But what attracts the most visitors is the Récoplis site. This Visigothic city, situated at the top of Oliva, is one of the rare urban nuclei left by this civilization; its basilic palace is the oldest in the early Middle Ages of the European West.