The Júcar Canyon, a natural wonder in Castile-La Mancha
Hoces del Júcar
In inland Spain, the Castile-La Mancha Region awaits you. It is dominated mainly by large plains and broad valleys. Nevertheless, this Region also has some truly surprising areas of countryside. The Júcar Canyon, in Albacete province, is one of them. This journey will show you its picturesque landscape, with narrow river canyons, villages that seem to float in the air and houses carved out of the rock.
As the Júcar River passes through the province of Albacete, it gives rise to one of the most unusual landscapes anywhere in the Region of Castile-La Mancha: the Júcar Canyon. It is in the northeast of the province, in an area known as La Manchuela. Initially, the landscape is dominated by vegetable gardens and riverbank vegetation. As you continue, however, it gradually changes: the river starts to wind, forming sharp meanders, and flows down narrow gorges whose walls reach more than 100 metres in height. On the steep surrounding slopes there are woods of juniper, pine and holm-oak; meanwhile, the most vertical parts of the canyon wall are ideal shelters for birds of prey such as the golden eagle and griffon vulture.
Nevertheless, one of the most noteworthy aspects for visitors to the Júcar Canyon is the unique setting of its villages. They are located at the top of the gorge, with incredible views of the area. If you want to discover the main attractions to be found in the region, we would suggest a route from Valdeganga (25 kilometres from the city of Albacete) to the village of Villa de Ves, following the road that runs parallel to the river. This is an excellent way to make sure you don't miss a thing.
Stop at the different viewpoints you find along the way - you can enjoy some breathtaking views. On the way it is also worth stopping at some of the most interesting villages in the Júcar Canyon, such as Jorquera, Alcalá del Júcar or Tolosa. The first, Jorquera, is a medieval village surrounded by 12th-century walls, where you can see many stately houses with their coats of arms, along with the Gothic-Renaissance Santa María de la Asunción Church, just one of many outstanding buildings.
When you get to Alcalá del Júcar the sight is spectacular. The houses are located in the canyon walls, set in steps up to the top, where there is a castle of Moorish origin. Strolling through the steep, sloping streets you will notice that many houses are caves carved out of the rock or built beneath overhangs of the canyon wall. Some are open to the public for visits. Other attractions in the village include the bullring, with its completely irregular shape and San Andrés Church, with its Baroque dome. In Tolosa the landscape gets more rugged and the gorge narrows. A good option is to make an excursion in the nearby area, to places such as Las Rochas, El Tranco del Lobo or El Molinar, where there is a bathing and recreation area.
Hiking, fishing, cycle-touring, kayaking... you can try all these outdoor activities in the Júcar Canyon area. Head for the Tourist Office in Alcalá del Júcar where they will give you information on all the leisure options available in the area - come and enjoy the natural wonders awaiting you in inland Spain.