Castilla la Mancha
Visit Castilla-La Mancha, at the meeting of Don Quixote
Castilla la Mancha is the historical region of Spain, heiress of Castilla la Nueva, New Castile, home of the hidalgos, Don Quixote and mills…
These massifs are a privileged tourist destination, many of which are home to nature reserves and parks, including the Serríana de Cuenca in the north-east of the region or the Cabañeros National Park in the west.
On the central plateau, the Meseta, dotted with picturesque villages, it is often crossed too quickly to reach the beaches of the Gulf of Valencia, Costa Bianca or Andalusia as soon as possible.
Even if Albacete is the most populated city, it is Toledo which is the capital of this region dominated by vast plains surrounded by different massifs such as the mountains of Toledo in the west or Sierra Morena in the south.
In charge of history, the province still keeps memories of ancient Muslim caliphates such as the medieval kingdom of Toledo.
The former capital of Hispania, Toledo is also called “the city of the three cultures” in reference to its history stemming from the Muslim, Jewish and Catholic cultures.
The old town, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its Alcázar, the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz or the former Synagogue del Tránsito, are some of the highlights of this historic city.
If the imposing dungeon of Consuegra, located 70 km south of Toledo, is noticed, it is its windmills that attract the curious in this village of La Mancha whose origin dates back to Roman times. Especially the one called’ Sancho’, which with its original mechanism still functional, pays homage to the character of Cervantes.
The industrial, commercial and university center, Albacete is the economic nucleus of the region, notably with its traditional craftsmanship of cutlery inherited from the Muslim know-how.
It is in the streets around the Plaza Altozano of the old base of the International Brigades of 1936 that one will taste the local gastronomy based on snails or pork cooked in the’ lomo de orza’ a terracotta dish. Green city, Albacete has many gardens and parks within its walls.
In the north-east of the province, the fortified city of Cuenca, perched on a hill, with its hanging houses above the Rio Júcar and its old medieval city classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in Castilla-La Mancha.
The most astonishing of Cuenca remains the original Casas Colgadas, impressive 14th century houses literally suspended on the rocky walls above the Rio Júcar.
Guadalajara, nestled on the banks of the Henares River, is the capital of La Alcarría, a natural region in the south of Meseta, in the centre of Spain.
When they conquered the city, the Muslims called it Wad-al-Hayara, the river of stone. Of Roman origin, the city is rich in a long history influenced by the Dukes of the Infantado whose palace is one of the symbols of this city located at the gates of Madrid and west of Castilla-La Mancha.
One of Sigüenza’s peculiarities, in addition to its declared architectural heritage Historical and artistic ensemble, is to be linked to Madrid by a medieval train on several Saturday in spring and autumn.
On board: troubadours, waders and acrobats for a colourful show. Sigüenza lies 80 km northeast of Guadalajara.
In the Middle Ages, Ciudad Real’s population, then composed of Christians, Muslims and Jews, was protected by four kilometres of ramparts and one hundred and thirty imposing towers.
The capital of La Manche in the XVIIth century, except in the new districts, the city is composed of small alleys with low houses on a single floor, very typical of this part of the English Channel.
Since the mid-1990s Ciudad Real, whose economy is based on wood cutting, leather, ceramics and textile industry, has been linked to Madrid by a high-speed train.
Since the mid-1990s.
Almagro, a theatre town and historical site, reached its peak during the Spanish Golden Age in the 16th and 17th centuries. Ancient capital of the military-religious order of Calatrava (13th century), it preserves from these times a’ Noble district’ dotted with emblazoned houses and palaces.
It is housed in an ancient mansion typical of the English Channel, its National Theatre Museum is a place not to be missed.
Dominated by an imposing fortress of Arab origin perched on a rocky peak, Almansa, located to the east of Albacete, sees its old town classified as a Historic Site. Along the narrow alleys, old palaces and religious buildings are discovered.
Alcalá del Júcar
It is by using an old Roman bridge remodeled in the 18th century that one enters this large village enclaved on a hill overlooking the Rio Júcar. The alleyways of its old quarter climb up the hillside towards the ancient fortress, which presides over an exceptional environment.
Chinchilla de Monte Aragon
Chinchilla is a medieval town on a hillside, Chinchilla is home to the castle of Juan Pancheco, Marquis de Vilena, built in the 15th century.
In the alleys of the old quarter of Hondón, you can discover strange houses dug in the earth and ancient hammams next to the 16th and 17th century emblazoned houses.
Beautifully hidden on mountain slopes in the gorges dug by the Munda River, the picturesque village of Ayna is surrounded by terraces set up by its inhabitants to make the most of the limited space available in this very steep environment.
It is from the Mirador del Diablo that one can best discover the beauty of this place where the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, whose church nave is decorated with Mudéjar woodwork, has taken refuge.
Formerly capital of the territory controlled by the Order of Santiago de la Mancha, the monastery built by Francisco de Mora in the 16th century is nicknamed the Escurial de Castilla-La Mancha.
Visiting Valeria is also a trip to Roman times, where you can see the remains of the old settlement, Valeria Romana, in the Calle Castrum Altum, which starts from the Plaza Ruiz de Alarcón.
The city’s water supply system, including an aqueduct and cisterns, is still visible.
The Roman basilica was first replaced by a Visigothic place of worship and then converted into a church with a Mudejar roof. The city museum exhibits many objects and pieces from the Roman and Visigoth periods as well as Baroque and Renaissance paintings.
Serranía de Cuenca
This mountain range with its abrupt relief in the north of the province of Cuenca, covered with vast pine forests, is crossed by several rivers. Geological sights of the park: Las Torcas, natural collapses that have formed colored lagoons such as Palancares and Cañada del Hoyo.
La Serranía de Cuenca is also home to many picturesque villages, including Beteta, a village founded in Roman times where you can see Rocafría’s Muslim castle and its unique view of the massif.
It is by crossing the Gorges du río Júcar that one arrives at this village enclaved on the escarpments dug by the río and protected by an imposing cliff nicknamed the Castle of Uña. In the village of Uña stands out its church dating from the 13th century and remodeled in the 16th century in dry masonry with a bell tower with a two-sloped wooden roof.
La Ciudad Encantada
The Ciudad Encantada is a tourist park located a few kilometres from Uña. Covered with pine trees and surrounded by amazing karst geological formations, the sites are classified as a Natural Site of National Interest.
Talavera de la Reina
Talavera de la Reina, the main town in the province after Toledo, has been known for centuries for its ceramics craftsmanship. The Virgen del Pardo Basilica, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, is home to famous azulejos of Talavera.
Located on the edge of the Community of Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha in the so-called Sacra region, Carranca is home to an important Roman site perfectly preserved. In addition, this archaeological site offers a Roman villa with its outbuildings and an impressive collection of mosaics.
Of Roman origin, the city shelters at the foot of Cerro Calderico a castle as imposing as its keep. Country of the famous windmills of Castile, five of the twelve of them built around Consuegra still possess their original mechanism. One of these mills is affectionately called Sancho in reference to the celery character of Cervantes.
The attraction of Trembleque, which belonged to the Military Order of the Knights of Malta, lies in its magnificent Plaza Mayor with wooden arches dating back to the 17th century. In addition, the red cross of the knights can be seen in several places in this village located to the south-east of Toledo.
Restored and furnished, the impressive castle of Guadamur, built on a Muslim fortress, has housed famous figures including Philippe le Beau and Jeanne la Folle, Cardinal Cisneros, Emperor Charles V…
Dews surround this magnificent fortress of the 15th century situated at a dozen kilometers from Toledo.