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Last updated : Nov 2009
Castile La Mancha and Extremadura
Castile La Mancha and Extremadura -
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 (New Castile).

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 restoration.

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 sides.

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 and Badajoz.

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.