You may have read my previous posts on the Coca and Penafiel castles.  In these blogs I provided a detailed description of these mayor sites I visited. However, in my one day trip, driving a total of 492 Km (300 M), along a loop I made north of Madrid during the longest day of the year (June 21). I visited a number of additional medieval castles. This blog provides a brief synopsis of these towns and pictures of such lovely sites.

Following in part “La Ruta del Cid”, along the high plains north of Madrid there are a number of small sleepy towns, each featuring interesting medieval sites, historical paths traveled by brave men in their quest, in route to the Holy land. These are the additional towns I visited in order or appearance. You may have taken note of the “one day” remark. This is indeed true, I was amazed of the distance traveled, not to mentioned the number of castles visited, but you may remember my motto “rapid can be memorable”. When you love medieval times, have read ahead and virtually traveled these, visiting these sites in Google Earth, this is indeed possible. Bottom line, if you know what you are looking for, proper planing and careful execution will take you there!

The first stop north of Madrid (142Km) was Coca, site feature in a previous post. Leaving Coca on a very bright sunny day, with my car windows down, I can still feel the sense of freedom, enjoying the quite and small roads. Admiring the golden fields of what appeared wheat, contrasting with the green short conifers, adorned by one deep blue sky in the background. Not a cloud in sight. Oh, the memories of small Spanish towns. After traveling north another 20 Km is the town of Iscar.

Iscar landscape

Iscar landscape

Iscar Castle sits atop of a elevated hill, overlooking the village by the same name.  A nice and small castle ruin. Built in a pentagonal plan in the 15th century by Don Pedro Zuñiga de Avellaneda.  The main structure is protected on one side by three well built towers, very close in proximity to one another. These towers protect the once standing wood draw bridge and stone steps to access the tower.

As I have read with other castles in this area, the current structure is built where a Moorish castle once stood. An Arab chronicle of the year 939 mentions this older Moorish structure during a raid into Christian territory. At one point, later in the 11th century this castle was owned by a noble man, which was a lieutenant for “El Cid”. Thus my reference to “La Ruta del Cid” as a central theme in this blog.

Iscar Castle

Iscar Castle main tower and defending towers

As I left Iscar in route to Cuellar, I stopped at Cogeses de Iscar. I found a sign along the road indicating the “Ruta del Cid”, so I followed this small road, that lead me to Cogeses. In this town I found this old church, from the distance I could see its tall bell tower. A couple of features that caused me to pause and admire this old and beautiful structure were, the stone cross in the court yard, the old wooden door and its stone arches, both well weathered by time and the tower attached to the bell tower. I did not take the time to enter this building, but it appear as you will note in the picture the adjacent tower to be an access staircase into the perhaps different level inside the main tower. I can also picture the “Holy warriors”, the crusaders, heading to the Holy land, going along this route and pause to say a prayer by the cross carved in stone.

Cogeses de Iscar old church

Cogeses de Iscar old church

A more detail view of the features that caught my attention are presented in the following picture, the stone carved cross and main wooden door and arches.

Iscar medieval church and cross

Iscar medieval church and cross

Every time I have had the opportunity to travel to Madrid, the capital of Spain, I have taken time to visit the incredible towns in the high plains. I will start a blog series on these small towns. Some are very well known, some others which I consider small jewels, are not traveled as much. It is well worth making a special trip to discover and enjoy them as true pieces of history. My blogs feature pictures from my own collection.
The series will start with Don Quijote and the famous medieval windmills from the novel in the city of Consuegra, in Castilla-La-Mancha.
The city of Consuegra, just a short drive south of Madrid (136 KM) is a small town of about 11,000 people. The town has a lovely main square, you can sit and enjoy a refreshment during the summer months, since it can be hot. Here a view of the plaza while sitting enjoying a lemonade with my dear brother and lovely sister in law, whom I had the pleasure to enjoy and discover this great town.
Consuegra Town Square

Consuegra Town Square

Just south of the city is the site of the medieval windmills featured in the book “Don Quijote de la Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes, a classic of Spanish literature. Driving from town via a winding road, you go up a hill called Cerro Calderico, you park the car and walk up a path to the top of the hill where you will encounter twelve windmills, lined up like soldiers, overlooking the plains. Four of these still in operation. These have been reconstructed to their original specification, the machinery used dates from the XVI century. Each windmill has its own name, written on the outside, an interesting and funny feature. Most famous one being Sancho (Molino Sancho).

Don Quijote Windmills - Consuegra (La Mancha), Spain

The view from the top is incredible, you can see the plains of La Mancha for as far as your eyes can see. Including some vineyard plantations.
View from Cerro Calderico in the city of Consuegra, Spain

View from Cerro Calderico in the city of Consuegra, Spain

Along the walk to the windmills, you will find a medieval castle. If you, like me, love medieval sites, features and stories, you will find this castle fascinating. Believed to have been orginally built by the Moros in the late 10th to early 11 century by Al-Hajib Al-Mansur, better known by Almanzor. It was later used by Alfonso VIII (1155 – 1214) during the Spanish Reconquest.
Medieval castle at top of Cerro Calderico in Consuegra

Medieval castle at top of Cerro Calderico in Consuegra

 As you enter the castle walls, you will find a number of towers, each containing multiple stories, each story being a room that served a purposue. You will find the dininig room, kitchen, chapel and bedrooms.
To enter the main tower, you first encounter an incredible feature, a medieval door. You follow narrow paths into rooms, very simple and rustic.
Consuegra medieval castle entrance

Consuegra medieval castle entrance

There are a numbers of terraces and pathways that connect the different towers. These lead to the top, where you can experience another incredible view of the plains. As you navigate your way out of the castle, as  you head down from the top, at one end is a small garden inside the castle walls.
Consuegra castle medieval door

Consuegra castle medieval door

The town hosts a number of festivals, perhaps the most famous being the  “Rose of Saffron”. This is celebrated in the last week of October. There is also the festival “Cosuegra Medieval”, this is celebrated in August. This last one celebrates the history of this place, with reenactments with people dressed in original costumes. I did not have the chance to attend either, given I traveled in June. I wanted to mention it in case you plan to travel during these time frames to line up some extra fun.