Madrid-Sigüenza. Cervantes and Don Quijote .. all in one

In the Madrid-Sigüenza route that Iberinbound, incoming travel agency in Castilla-La Mancha, proposes to you (see video at the end of the article), we get fully into the Castilla of the times of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, finding the characters that starred in his worldwide known book «The ingenious cavalier Don Quijote de la Mancha» and translated into 140 languages, surpassed only by the Bible.

From Madrid, the first stop on the route is Alcalá de Henares, city where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born, on September 29, 1547. Novelist, poet, playwright and Spanish soldier. His birthplace is preserved and has become a very interesting museum.

Second stop is Aranjuez. Crossed by the Tajo and Jarama rivers,
It is one of the Royal Sites of the Crown of Spain since Philip II named it in 1560, although it also has the title of villa since 1899, which is why the municipality is known as «Real Sitio y Villa de Aranjuez».

The city is known for its Royal Palace, its gardens and for the grid layout of its streets and its strawberry and asparagus orchards, as well as having inspired the composer Joaquín Rodrigo for his Aranjuez Concert. The Cultural Landscape of Aranjuez was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2001.

And so we arrived in Toledo. Known as «the imperial city» for having been the principal seat of the court of Charles I and also as «the city of the three cultures», for having been populated for centuries by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The historic center is located on the right bank of the Tajo River, on a hill, one hundred meters high above the river, which encircles it by its base, forming a pronounced meander known as «Torno del Tajo».

Toledo has been a World Heritage Site since 1986 and among its buildings are the cathedral of Santa Maria, in the 13th century Gothic style, and the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, 15th-century Elizabethan Gothic. The city has been the birthplace or residence of artists such as Garcilaso de la Vega or El Greco.
The gastronomy of Toledo is the traditional Castilian-La Mancha cuisine, rooted in its traditions and closely linked to hunting and grazing. A good number of recipes are the result of the combination of Moorish, Sephardic and Christian influences.

At the stops of Consuegra and Criptana we already enter the «duels and broken» Don Quijote. Aligned on the hill Calderico are the windmills, twelve nowadays although in origin they were thirteen. Most dated the 19th century, although some date back to the 16th century. Don Quijote confused them with giants and against those who fought vigorously, and in fact, from a distance they look like gigantic soldiers lined up.

El Toboso … The houses of this small town in La Mancha, with wooden corridors and columns, have squared or rectangular squared courtyards and the floor is almost always pebbled. Lady Dulcinea’s place of residence, the great love of the illustrious cavalier from La Mancha, Don Quijote.

Belmonte. In this city there is the «perfect castle». Built in the fifteenth century. Through marriage links the castle passes to the house of Montijo and, in the nineteenth century, was inherited by the Countess of Teba, Eugenia de Montijo, who would become Empress of France when she married Napoleon III. A visit to the castle is recommended, given the richness and peculiarity of its Mudejar coffered ceilings.

Cuenca. The city of hanging houses. It retains an important historical and architectural heritage, which extends throughout the ancient city, although focused on buildings such as the cathedral or the houses hung literally on the rock, which have become the symbol of the city.

Sigüenza. End of this route through La Mancha. It is the best preserved medieval city. Located at an altitude of 1004 meters above sea level. Its Cathedral of Santa María, Plaza Mayor, Casa del Doncel, Royal House of Teaching and Mercy, Pelegrina Castle, etc. The city was declared a historic artistic complex on May 20, 1965.
It was Pedro Pérez, a graduate of the University of Sigüenza and a lover of cavalry books that transmits his passion to Don Quijote and this one to his squire Sancho Panza and together with his exhausted Rocinante horse, they begin their thousand battles against the injustices of this world.