|This inland region lies
between Madrid and Andalucia.
Bordered by mountains in the north, east and south, it is irrigated
by two large rivers, the Guadiana and the Tajo,
both of which flow westwards to Portugal and thence to the Atlantic.
Castile/La Mancha, the higher, western part of
the region, is also known as Castilla La Nueva
Castile La Mancha
South of Madrid is the ancient Spanish capital of Toledo.
Rising above the plains and a gorge of the Rio Tajo,
the city is dominated by the magnificent cathedral and Alcazar.
The town seems tortured by streets as narrow as the steel blades
for which it is quite famous. Toledo is justly
proud of its collection of paintings by El Greco,
who lived and worked here. El Greco’s most
famous painting, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz,
is preserved in the Santo Tomé Church. There
are more El Grecos as well as works by Goya
and other artists in the Hospital y Museo de Santa Cruz,
a magnificent Renaissance building with a Plateresque façade.
Other reminders of Toledo’s rich cultural heritage are its
two medieval synagogues and a 10th-century mosque, currently undergoing
Guadalajara is the capital
of the province of the same name and is situated northeast of the
capital, on the Rio Henares. Sights include the
15th-century Palacio del Infantado and the Church
of San Gines.
The provincial capital of Ciudad Real is the chief
town in the La Mancha region, the home of Don
Quixote. There are many places in the surrounding area
associated with Don Quixote, including Campo de Criptana,
believed to be the setting for his fight with the windmills.
Cuenca, also a provincial capital, is most
famous for its hanging houses. It is one of the most attractive
of Spain’s medieval towns and the Gothic
cathedral is particularly richly decorated. The countryside nearby
includes woods, spectacular caves, lakes, towering mountains and
valleys, many with fortified towns and villages clinging to their
Albacete is the centre of a wine-producing
region. The town witnessed two exceptionally bloody battles during
the Reconquista, but the considerable rebuilding
of the town has left few reminders of its history. More evidence,
is scattered in the surrounding countryside, where such places as
the Moorish castle at Almansa and the old fortified
towns of Chinchilla de Monte Aragón and
Villena reflect the area’s stormy past.
This region consists of the provinces of Cáceres
was founded in the first century BC by the Romans, and was later
destroyed by the Visigoths and rebuilt by the Moors.
There are traces of all the stages of the city’s history,
although most of the buildings date from Cáceres’ Golden
Age during the 16th century. Nearby is the beautiful village of
Arroyo de la Luz. Around 48km (30 miles) away is
the walled town of Trujillo the birthplace of the
conquistador, Francisco Pizarro. Apart from two
museums devoted to the conquest of the New World,
visitors can see the fortress, a number of Renaissance town houses
and historic churches. In this province is Plasencia,
founded in the 12th century, which has a beautiful medieval aqueduct,
cathedral and a 15th-century convent that has retained much of its
original architecture, masonry, painting and murals.
The ancient fortified town of Badajoz, in the province
of the same name, is situated very close to the Portuguese frontier
and was founded by the Romans. The Alcazaba, the
Moorish part of the town, is on a hill in the northeast of the town.
Not far away is the town of Albuquerque, which
has the ruins of a massive castle and a large Gothic church. In
the same province is the town of Mérida,
famous for ancient Roman ruins, and the remains are housed in the
Museum of Archaeology. A few kilometres away is Medellín,
where Cortés was born during 1485.