The Way of El Cid: on the quest of an 11th-century knight
Have you heard of ‘The Song of El Cid’? It is a famous Spanish poem from the 12th century that tells the story of the legendary knight Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, 'El Cid Campeador', or Cid the Outstanding Warrior. We suggest reliving his adventures in an exciting way: by travelling to Spain and following the route that appears in the book itself. The idea is that you follow a tourist and cultural route that brings you into the interior of the country, passing through the lands of Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón and the Region of Valencia.
World Heritage sites await you in this itinerary, as well as examples of Romanesque, Mozarabic, Moorish, Islamic and Gothic art and more than 70 protected natural areas. Although they are actually interconnected routes between 50 and 300 kilometres, together they total 2,000 kilometres of roads and 1,400 kilometres of marked trails. The Way is divided into five sections according to the different chapters narrated in ‘The Song of El Cid’. You can do each section on foot (mostly along trails and rural roads), by mountain bike (also mainly along trails and rural roads), by classic bike (if you're a cyclist who prefers asphalt) or by car or motorbike (on secondary roads and some highways). Please note that other small thematic routes begin from the main path. They are the so-called 'rings', with circular structures, that begin and end in the same place; and 'branches', linear paths that deviate from the route for historical reasons.Click any of the 5 links below for more detailed information on each of the main sections.
The Way of El Cid. Third section: The three 'taifas'
El Cid succeeded in raising a substantial and numerous army, which moved freely about the area of the taifas (Arab kingdoms) of Toledo, Zaragoza and Albarracín. The third section runs between the towns of Ateca (Zaragoza) and Cella (Teruel), and passes through villages which were once part of these territories. The itinerary of this third section of the Way of El Cid passes through the provinces of Zaragoza, Guadalajara and Teruel. It has 289 kilometres of trails in different stages (13 days on foot, 6 days by bike); while the route by car is 322 kilometres and takes three days at a leisurely pace.Also in this itinerary you will find two other alternative circular routes. One, the Gallocanta ring, part of the town of Daroca, is a 47-kilometre long route where you can visit the Gallocanta lake, one of the most important wetlands in Spain. The other leaves from Luco de Jiloca and is called the Montalbán ring.On the way from Ateca to Cella you will pass through the Valley of Jiloca, the region of Alto Tajo and the Albarracín mountain range. The best idea is to visit the tourist offices in each place to find out all about the activities and points of interest on offer.
Calatayud is one of the must-see destinations of the trip. Founded in the 8th century, next to the preserved remains of the Moorish fortress, it is worth seeing the Moorish historical sites, especially the Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor. Further along, you should also stop in Daroca to admire its impressive walls and visit its Romanesque and Gothic palaces, churches and buildings.Another important stop on this route is Molina de Aragón. On a quiet walk you can enjoy its rich heritage: the castle, its medieval quarter, religious buildings, stately homes and more.Following the itinerary you will arrive at another interesting spot: Albarracín. In addition to its walls and evocative historic centre, its Roman aqueduct stands out, connecting the town with the end of the third section of the Way of El Cid: Cella. The construction goes around the road and you can even go in some sections.
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