Travel back to the Middle Ages with the Castles of La Mancha
Here we suggest a journey into the Middle Ages in the land of famous knight Don Quixote. Castile-La Mancha is in inland Spain, and is the ideal place to travel back in time and discover castles that were once the setting for great battles. A look into historic-artistic heritage that is not to be missed.
The Region of Castile-La Mancha has a landscape of great plains topped by impressive castles. Most were built in the Middle Ages, a time when they were considered the best form of defence. Throughout the route you will be able to see their various origins: Moorish, medieval, even some built on top of Roman fortifications. This route in Castile-La Mancha is a journey into the history of Spain.
The province of Toledo is your starting point. You will soon notice that there is a castle in most of its towns and villages. In places like Oropesa, the 13th-century Christian fortress is built onto the defensive wall that surrounds the whole historic centre. Besides climbing to the top of the tower, you can also spend the night - it is now a Parador Hotel. Less than 200 kilometres away, Consuegra is another stop not to be missed. From the top of the castle there is a unique view: the fields of La Mancha between the Tagus and Guadiana Rivers. The stars of the view are the seven windmills that became giants in Miguel de Cervantes's novel, Don Quixote.
The route now heads for the province of Ciudad Real. As soon as you get to this region you will be transported back to the Castilian Middle Ages. An hour from Consuegra is Calatrava la Nueva, where you can see one of the maximum exponents of La Mancha history: the Calatrava Castle-monastery. The Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabela, Charles I and Philip II all stayed here.
Now in the province of Albacete, don't miss the Gothic Castle of Almansa. It is set atop a huge rock on the site of a previous Moorish fortress. You will notice its imposing keep.
The next stop is in the province of Cuenca. There you will be able to live a very different experience, staying the night in a castle. Alarcón castle is now a Parador Hotel. You will see that it maintains its Renaissance appearance, with arrowhead battlements. 70 kilometres away, right on the Route of Don Quixote, head towards Belmonte and enjoy its beautiful monuments. Its castle has an unusual structure in the shape of a six-pointed star.
The province of Guadalajara, further to the north, is the end of the route. This is where you will find the largest number of castles in Castile-La Mancha. You can also stroll around its walled towns, visit more than 30 fortresses and see a hundred or so different towers. The town of Sigüenza is a designated historic-artistic site, and its castle is one of the most representative. It is built on top of an earlier Moorish structure, and is now a Parador Hotel.
These are just a few of the castles you can visit on your next trip to Castile-La Mancha. There are many more. If you would like more information on them, then get in touch with any of the tourist offices. Each stop, a castle. Each castle, a story. Plan your own route and take a trip back to the Middle Ages. If you like this article then have a look at: - Route to Spain's medieval towns and villages