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. First section: Exile
‘The Song of El Cid’ tells of the exile experienced by El Cid in 1088, at the hand of King Alfonso VI. Accompanied by his family and a few loyal knights, he abandoned Castile. This first part of the Way of El Cid covers the journey made by the famous knight from Vivar del Cid (Burgos) to the village of Atienza (Guadalajara). This section passes through the provinces of Burgos, Soria and Guadalajara. It spans 341 kilometres of road and 285 kilometres of trails divided into stages. If you are travelling by car, we recommend doing it in four days to visit the sites in a leisurely fashion. The alternative for walkers lasts 15 days, while for cyclists it lasts five.The route begins at the birthplace of the protagonist, Vivar del Cid. You will cross landscapes of agricultural fields, mountains and forests, and discover historic towns, villages and important monuments. Visit the tourist offices in each location so that you don't miss a thing.
Burgos is worth stopping off in. The remains of El Cid and his wife, Lady Jimena, are found in the Cathedral, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, there are many other monuments to see in this city, including the church of San Nicolás and the Monastery of las Huelgas Further along, don't miss the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña where El Cid left his wife and his daughters when he went into exile.After passing Covarrubias, you can go in search of another must-see monastic centre: the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos, a congregation to which El Cid donated some land. Its famous cloister is a Romanesque gem. The churches of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in Castillejo de Robledo, with its wall paintings, and San Miguel and Nuestra Señora del Rivero in San Esteban de Gormaz are also Romanesque.
Before arriving at Gormaz, home to the caliphate castle where El Cid was governor, you should stop in El Burgo de Osma to visit its Gothic cathedral and its old town centre. Berlanga de Duero is another notable town on route of El Cid, who King Alfonso VI knighted in 1089. His castle, with its renaissance layout, or his collegiate church are just some of the attractions.The final stop of this section is also quite interesting: Atienza. Its streets are full of noble houses and Romanesque and Gothic temples. You can also enjoy fantastic views from its castle.