Alarcon sits on a rocky hill almost completely encircled by a loop of the river Jucar. In the 8th century an Arab fortress was built on the promontory above the river - a useful defensive position. Stone walls and 5 turrets surround the castle of Alarcon. One of these turrets sits right on the river and enabled the inhabitants to draw fresh water even during a siege. After a long occupation by the Moors the castle was taken by the Spaniards during the Reconquest in 1184 following a nine-month siege.
The beautiful castle with its distinctive keep was then owned by a succesion of lords and royals but fell into disrepair in the middle ages. Eventually in 1963 the Spanish government took over the castle, renovated it and opened it as one of Spain's wonderful parador-hotels. Further renovations took place in 2003 and now you can enjoy a luxurious visit whilst admiring the military origins of the building.
On entering the village you have the impression of stepping back through the centuries. Especially as to get to Alercon there is a narrow strip of land between two bends of the river which is only just wide enough for the road. This then goes through a series of medieval gateways leading to the town.
The town has been awarded artistic-historic status because of the drama of its location on a rocky cliff above a bend of the river and the attractiveness and historic interest of the town itself.
As well as the castle admire the main square with its old town hall and the 16th century San Juan Bautista Church and stroll through the medieval streets. The church houses some excellent murals by Jesus Mateo. These have now been given UNESCO patronage and are visited by more than 40,000 people each year.
The Santa Maria church is a lovely Renaissance church.
Alarcon is an historic-artistic site because of its great monuments and the surrounding countryside.
Places to Visit Nearby
The gorge of the River Jucar is a great place to do some walking.
Cuenca with its wonderful old town and hanging houses is to the north of Alarcon.
West of Alarcon is Belmonte which also has an impressive castle.
Map of Alarcon and places to visit
Alarcon places to visit
See more places nearby in the Castilla la Mancha guide