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. Second section: Borderlands
The second section of the route continues through locations that once formed the border between the Muslim and Christian domains. The area is where Cid began to foster his reputation as the Outstanding Warrior. It begins in Atienza (Guadalajara) and ends in Ateca (Zaragoza).The route is 267 kilometres long, both along roads and trails, without counting the Algarada de Álvar Fáñez branch, which is an additional 80 kilometres, going from Villaseca de Henares to the city of Guadalajara. To enjoy it at a leisurely pace we recommend covering it in three days if you are travelling by car. For those who prefer to go by foot, it would take them 12 days, while cyclists would take six days.Through this itinerary you'll discover castles from various periods, small charming villages and examples of Romanesque, Mudéjar and Islamic art that sometimes coincide at the same place thanks to the borderland nature of the area. Visiting the tourist offices in each place will help you not miss out on anything.The landscape you observe is marked by diversity and contrasts: from the Guadalajara Mountain Range we go to the Barranco de Río Lobo Natural Park or the lunar landscape of the Vega del Jalón.
In Jadraque there are 17th and 18th century mansions, a castle known as Castillo del Cid, and a church with a painting by Zurbarán and a sculpture by Pedro de Mena. Another impressive fortress is that of Sigüenza, which has been converted into a National Parador. You can also visit its Cathedral to see the tomb of Martín Vázquez de Arce, a famous nobleman of Sigüenza.As you pass through Anguita, note its striking watchtower of Islamic origin, known as the Tower of the La Cigüeña. In Medinaceli you will find the remains of another fortress, as well as the only Roman arch in Spain, actually made up of three arches, and historic buildings such as the Ducal Palace and the Collegiate Church of Nuestra Señora.
Santa María de Huerta and its Cistercian monastery is another must-see stop. Here you can admire the various architectural styles of its cloister and the refectory vault. En route to Ateca, the end point of the route's second section, you will find Alhama de Aragón, famous for its thermal waters. From here it’s worth taking a detour to Monasterio de Piedra, about 20 kilometres away, a monastery in a beautiful natural setting with many waterfalls.