October 3, 2018
Castles of Castile: A journey to the Middle Ages
Modern Spain cannot be separated from its history – especially in a land that it dotted with towering castles, spired cathedrals and medieval fortresses. These imposing relics of the past can be found all over the country, but nowhere can one feel more transported through time than in the regions of Castile. In this enchanting area of inland Spain, you can let the castles guide your journey!
Surrounding Madrid to the south and east, Castile-La Mancha is the land of Don Quixote, where great expanses of plains are topped by medieval castles, which were once the setting for intense battles. Following a route through this region will reveal the complexity of Spanish history. One of the most striking things about this journey is that even small towns and villages often have a castle!
You may wish to start in the iconic city of Toledo, venturing into lesser known territory to see places like Oropesa, where the 13th-century fortress is built onto a defensive wall that surrounds the whole historic center. Just a short distance away, the town of Consuegra boasts a castle with a magnificent view of the fields of La Mancha between the Tagus and Guadiana Rivers. From here, visitors can see the seven windmills that became giants in the epic Spanish novel, Don Quixote.
Continue on to the Calatrava Castle and monastery, where many of the Catholic monarchs stayed, and the Gothic Castle of Almansa, built on top of a Moorish fortress. The Guadalajara region is home to the largest number of castles in Castile-La Mancha, as well as over 30 fortresses and a hundred watchtowers. Here, be sure not to miss the town of Sigüenza, which is a designated historic-artistic site. Its castle is not only stunning, but it is also now a Parador Hotel, giving your group the once in a lifetime chance to truly experience a piece of living history.
Castile and Leon
There are nearly 300 castles distributed throughout Castile and Leon, to the north and west of Madrid. There is one your group will be sure to recognize – Alcázar de Segovia, which was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is one of the most famous sites in all of Spain, and well worth the attention! But there are many others that deserve a visit.
For example, the Coca Castle is uniquely beautiful, with its fusion of Gothic and Mudejar architecture. The slightly pink hue of the enormous castle with its many turrets, set against the green expanse surrounding it, is awe-inspiring. The Ponferrada Castle was originally a Roman citadel before it was taken over by the Templars in the 12th century. Today it contains the Templars’ Library with over 1400 books, including works by Leonardo da Vinci. And in Valladolid, the 10th century Peñafiel castle sits impressively atop a hill and houses a welcome surprise – the provincial wine museum and tasting room, where visitors can sample some of the region’s finest wines.
Touring Castilian castles
The castles clearly may be the stars of the show, but the regions of Castile-La Mancha and Castile and Leon have much more to offer. We can help you plan the perfect tour for your group. Contact us today!