Visit Castilla La Mancha
Castilla-La-Mancha is the Spain of Don Quijote legend with immense flat plains, vertiginous canyons, and hilltop castles and windmills throughout.
Castilla-La Mancha Tourist Sites and Places to Visit
Castilla-La Mancha is situated in central Spain to the east and south of Madrid. Its regional capital is the historic city of Toledo.
The region is famous for the adventures of the flamboyant Don Quiote in Cervantes novel "The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha" and there is now a Quiote route taking in the important landmarks of the book including the iconic windmills of Consuegra.
Below we introduce you to the five provinces of Castilla-La Mancha, offering suggestions and highlights to enable you to plan your perfect Spanish holiday.
Guadalajara - Northern Castilla-La Mancha
Rolling plains dotted with hills some of which are topped by splendid castles form the backdrop of this, the most northerly of the Castilla-La Mancha provinces.
In the north is the medieval town of Atienza with its lovely arcaded squares and the ruins of a 12th century castle perched on top of a steep, rocky cliff.
A little south of here is Siguenza, a hillside town with a beautiful Romanesque cathedral and a castle turned into a luxury parador. Whilst near Siguenza make a point of visiting the 'Black Architecture villages', so called for the use of slate in their construction.
The city of Guadalajara is the capital of the province and home to the Infantado Palace with its excellent Renaissance facade.
Over on the eastern edge of the province is the town of Molina de Aragon dominated by its castle and huge medieval walls.
Toledo -Western Castilla-La Mancha
Toledo offers a wide range of countryside with wide-open plains, high mountains and some real treasures with regards towns and villages.
At the centre of the Toledo province is its capital the wonderful city of Toledo. Considered to be one of the most splendid cities in Spain the beautiful buildings of Toledo climb up a hill to the Alcazar at its summit. Toledo can be visited as a day trip from Madrid but certainly deserves more time than that.
Consuegra to the south of the Toledo province is the essence of Don Quiote's Spain with its ridge above the town topped by a line of white windmills.
North of Toledo and not far from Madrid is the Carreteras Archaeological park, one of Spain's most important Roman sites whilst to the east is Tembleque with its stunning main square built along the lines of the old open-air theatres.
Another beautiful town square can be found at Oropesa to the east of Toledo.
The province is home to the Cabaneros National Park which is the largest Iberian forest and home to a huge variety of plant species and a large animal and bird population including many endangered species.
Cuenca - Eastern Castilla-La Mancha
Cuenca is home to the highest mountains in the region, dramatic gorges, large flat plains and two UNESCO World Heritage listings.
In the middle of the province is the city of Cuenca and the jewel of the province. The city sits between two dramatic gorges and its hanging houses are an extraordinary sight. The fortified town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Also a World Heritage site are the caves of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin some of which are in Cuenca province.
In the south-west of the province at Segobria there is a ruined roman city including an ampitheatre.
The Cuenca mountain range is an area of outstanding beauty.
Ciudad Real - South western Castilla-La Mancha
Ciudad Real is the only Spanish province with two national parks, and as well as its natural interest it also has some magnificent towns and castles.
The Cabaneros National Park is shared with the province of Toledo and is the largest area of Iberian Mediterranean forest. By contrast the Tablas de Daimiel National Park is a wetlands park.
Another pretty area is the Natural Park of the Lagunas de Ruidera with about 15 lakes connected by falls, rivers and underground water. Not surprisingly given the dryness of the surrounding area the lakes are a haven for birds and wildlife.
In the middle of the province is the city of Ciudad Real with its medieval walls and watchtowers.
Highlights include Villanueva de Los Infantes famous for its beautiful Renaissance and Baroque architecture and for being the alleged home of Don Quijote in the novel by Cervantes. Another Don Quiote landmark is the village of Campo de Criptana with its famous windmills.
Not to be missed is Almagro with its wonderful main square and 16th century-open air theatre. Near to here is Calatrava la Nueva, a magnificent medieval castle.
Albacete - South eatern Castilla-La Mancha
The vast plains of Spain cover most of this province giving way to the mountains of the Segurra range in the south-east of the province. UNESCO World Heritage caves are a highlight of the province.
The Rock art ot the iberian Mediterranean has been listed as a World Heritage Site and covers a network of over 700 caves and shelters. A large concentration of these can be found in Albacete with 79 places.
The most interesting town is Alcaraz, to the west, with its lovely 16th century Plaza Mayor. La Roda is another town with beautiful Renaissance architecture whilst Hellin still has a medieval centre. Alcala del Jucar is a beautiful village on the edge of the Jucar river.
Places to visit: towns and villages
Alcala del Jucar - set in a circle of the river Jucar the village houses rise up above each other set into the white cliff behind them. Have a drink in one of the bars inside caves in the cliff.
Alcaraz - has a lovely Renaissance Plaza Mayor with two towers.
Almagro - a wonderful old town with a fully preserved 16 th century open air theatre which is still used today. Visit in July for the town's theatre festival.
Atienza - a medieval town with arcaded squares and a ruined castle.
Belmonte - one of the castles the region is famous for. Belmonte is 15th century and very well preserved.
Calatrava la Nueva - another of the magnificent castles of the region.
Consuegra - often photographs of this region show a group of white windmills with black pointed tops. A large group of them can be seen at Consuegra which are on a ridge above the town along with a ruined castle. More can be seen at Campo de Criptana.
Cuenca - sits dramatically on top of a gorge. Visit the hanging houses which are literally hanging over the edge. A mixture of Moorish, Renaissance and Gothic architecture can be seen in this beautiful town.
Guadalajara - admire the magnificent detail of the Palacio de los Ducques del Infantado, a Gothic-Mudejar building.
Molina de Aragon - the ruins of an Arab castle sit above the town.
Oropesa - the old quarter is charming and the town has great views to the Gredos mountains. There is a parador in part of the castle in the town.
Segobria - a ruined Roman city which can be visited.
Siguenza - a beautiful city whose numerous architectural features have led to its listing as one of Spain's Historic-Artistic sites.
Toledo - one of Spain's greatest cities.
Villanueva de los Infantes - one of the most attractive towns in Castilla La Mancha.
Castilla La-Mancha tourism and sightseeing
Museums in Castilla La Mancha
Archaeological Museum of Cuenca - from prehistory to the 17th century.
Museum of Abstract Art of Cuenca - the museum is inside one of the hanging houses of Cuenca and is worth visiting for that alone but the exhibits are also excellent.
Museo Diocesano, Cuenca - houses the treasures of Cuenca's cathedral including paintings by El Greco.
Casa-Museo de El Greco, Toledo - contains an important collection of El Greco's works
Museum of Santa Cruz, Toledo - fine arts museum with a collection of Flanders tapestries.
Monasteries of Castilla la Mancha
Monasterio de Ucles - this monastery started life as a medieval castle and became a monastery in the 12th century.
Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, Toledo - a splendid monastery with a Gothic cloister which has a Mudejar ceiling.
Parks and Countryside
La Alcarria - undulating hills covered in olive groves. Visit the town of Pastrana when visiting the area.
National Park of Cabaneros in the Toledo Mountains (Montes de Toledo) - an attractive range of fairly small mountains. Look out for the cone-shaped shepherd's cabins known as chozos.
National Park of las Lagunas de Ruidera - a series of 16 interconnected lakes.
National Park of the Tablas de Daimiel - marshy wetlands with raised walkways and observation towers. The wetlands are under threat due to a lowering of the water table.
Serrania de Cuenca - a mountainous area with an area called the 'enchanted city', Ciudad Encantada, due to the weird shapes of the eroded limestone. Beautiful rock pools can be seen at the source of the river Cuervo. Schwarzenegger's film 'Conan the Barbarian' was filmed here. The Ciudad Encantada is close to Cuenca.
Sierra de Alcaraz - mountains and gorges and the source f the Rio Mundo river.
Toledo- a wonderful city and home to Roman, Visigoth and Goth architecture. El Greco lived here for part of his life and many of his works can be seen in Toledo.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Castilla-La Mancha
Historic city of Toledo
Historic walled town of Cuenca
Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula
Paradors in Castilla-La Mancha
Paradors are luxury hotels that are in converted historic buildings or particularly beautiful countryside.
Parador de Alarcon - Alarcon
Parador de Almagro - Almagro
Parador de Albacete - Albacete
Parador de Cuenca - Cuenca
Parador de Oropesa - Oropesa
Parador de Siguenza - Siguenza
Parador de Toledo - Toledo
The region is famous for its delicious Manchego cheese, a sheep's cheese made from the milk of Manchega sheep.
This region is a huge wine producing area and is responible for two thirds of Spain's total wine production. Its quality is improving year on year.