Scenes from a novel
There is one place in Spain which is famous all over the world, thanks to literature: La Mancha. And it’s all because of Miguel de Cervantes and his immortal knight Don Quixote. But this is not the only major work of literature which contains a depiction of these lands. Why not discover the places in Castile-La Mancha which inspired some of the characters and books that are now a part of literary history?
We are setting out in search of adventure - do you want to come along? Our destination is the region of Castile-La Mancha, in central Spain. We will let literature be our guide, and our path will take us through landscapes inhabited by knights errant, beautiful maidens, valiant soldiers and charming rogues. It will be a thrilling experience to discover the actual places which have been transformed into the fictional setting for the episodes from great works such as the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of la Mancha, the Poem of My Cid or Lazarillo de Tormes. Don’t forget to pack the books in your suitcase — the literary sight-seeing routes of Castile-La Mancha invite you to rediscover them in a different way.
Route 1. The wanderings of Don Quixote
This option revisits some of the passages from Miguel de Cervantes’ universal novel, including Camacho’s wedding, the Altarpiece of Maese Pedro and Montesinos’ Cave. It takes us on a journey through the area of Albacete and Ciudad Real, and is part of the Route of Don Quixote, the greatest ecotourism and cultural route in Europe. The journey starts in Argamasilla de Alba and ends in Munera, and take us through typical La Mancha towns such as Ruidera, Ossa de Montiel and El Bonillo, with their quiet streets, whitewashed walls and ancestral houses. Not to be missed in Argamasilla de Alba is a visit to Peñarroya castle and Medrano’s house, where it is thought that Cervantes, while he was held prisoner there, began to write the story. Also worth a visit are the remains of the Rochafrida castle, near Ossa de Montiel, and the Lagunas de Ruidera Nature Reserve. Inside this natural oasis, declared Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO, you will find Montesinos’ Cave, where in chapter XXII of the second part, the valiant gentleman suffers all kinds of enchantments at the hands of an imaginary sorcerer.
Route 2. The legend of El Cid
The poem of My Cid is a towering work in European epic literature. It relates the feats and the exile of the legendary Spanish knight Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid. The Way of the Cid follows the great journey of over 2,000 kilometres described in the book, which goes from Castile-León to the Region of Valencia. It also includes the region of Castile-La Mancha through the area of Guadalajara, on a route which will enchant you with its beautiful monumental towns such as Atienza, Hita, Guadalajara, Sigüenza and Molina de Aragón, among others.
Route 3. The adventures of a rogue
Lazarillo de Tormes, published in 1554, was an anonymous tale which attained great popularity and started a new literary genre: the picaresque novel. This route follows the steps of the famous scoundrel through the province of Toledo. Throughout this journey, which will take you from the town of Almorox to the city of Toledo, you will be able to enjoy delicious food and a rich historic heritage. Here are just a few examples: thefortress and Plaza Mayor in Escalona; the Maqueda castle; the Palace of Pedro I and the Collegiate church in Torrijos; the historic quarter and the magnificent cathedral in Toledo…
Castile-La Mancha is the land of the tale of Don Quixote de la Mancha. By exploring its landscapes, its peoples and its customs, visitors can understand the legend of the “ingenious gentleman” as they discover towns and villages with their traditional arts and crafts, and their cultural heritage.
Route 4. The life of a soldier-poet
One of the classic poems of Spanish literature was written by a soldier in the 15th century: the verses on the death of his father by Jorge Manrique. His poetry deals with universal themes such as the fleeting nature of life, the search for fame, death... This sightseeing route evokes the author’s life journey, through the quiet and friendly villages of Ciudad Real, Toledo and Cuenca. Some of the highlights are the towns of Villamanrique, Ocaña, Castillo de Garcimuñoz, Santa María del Campo Rus and Uclés, with its outstanding monastery. Near here you will also have the chance to discover other interesting places such as Villanueva de los Infantes, Tembleque and the Segóbriga Archaeological Park.
Route 5. In the steps of a Nobel prize-winner
In 1946, the Nobel prize laureate for literature Camilo José Cela began a journey around the territory of Guadalajara which he then turned into the book “Journey to the Alcarria”. This trip follows the same route, and includes noble houses, castles, churches, Romanesque churches and Renaissance palaces and charming medieval towns such as Brihuega, Zorita and Pastrana.
These literary sight-seeing routes will reveal a series of wonderful stories, exceptional monuments, incredible landscapes and towns which still have their flavour of authenticity. To make sure you don't miss anything, a good idea is to make for the tourist offices in each place. Rest assured, in Castile-La Mancha you’re really going to enjoy reading.
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