The route of Don Quixote follows the wanderings of the ingenious hidalgo throughout Castilla La Mancha. Between extensive vineyards, small villages with white houses and the famous mills, this route invites you to follow one of the most recognized characters in Spanish literature.
In 1605 the first edition of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha, by Don Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, was published. Considered one of the best works of chivalry, it is also the most universal novel in Spanish literature . In it, its protagonist, an old hidalgo (a gentleman) run down, travels through Castilla La Mancha, and much of Spain, experiencing great adventures and misadventures.
Today, it is possible to put on your hiking shoes and follow in the footsteps of the old hidalgo. The Don Quixote Route is the answer to the question about what to see in Castilla La Mancha. This route invites you to relive the adventures of the knight and his faithful squire throughout the autonomy, enjoying the same landscapes and scenery that are shown in the novel.
Don Quixote’s route
“In a place in La Mancha whose name I don’t want to remember…” This is how Cervantes’ novel begins and so does our route, declared a European Cultural Route. It is also the fourth most traveled route in Spain , behind the Sephardic Routes, that of Al-Andalus and, the best known of all, El Camino de Santiago.
The Don Quixote route was created in 2005 to celebrate 400 years since the publication of the book and through its 2,500 km, invites us to discover more than 140 towns, cattle trails and historic paths. It is one of the main hiking trails in Castilla La Mancha, although it also has an alternative to travel it by motorhome. In addition, for the more adventurous, there is also a Don Quixote bike route.
The route runs through the five autonomous provinces and some municipalities such as Campo de Criptana, where the famous mills are located and also the Sara Montiel museum, the Peñas Negras Castle or the famous Cueva de Montesinos in which the old Hidalgo took refuge..
They are not mills! The itineraries of the Quixote route
The first section starts in Toledo, the capital of Castilla La Mancha and a World Heritage Site. From there, we follow the road signs and cross the Altillo and Longar lagoons, passing by the Criptana mills that the knight mistook for giants. This first section ends in El Toboso, where Dulcinea lived, the great love of Don Quixote.
The second section begins in San Clemente and runs through some of the largest lagoons in Spain, among which Ruidera stands out. We will also visit the cave of Montesinos , where Don Quixote dreams of Montesinos, a common fantastic figure in chivalric novels. From here, we will pass through the vineyards of Villarrobledo, the castle of Rochafrida and end up in Villanueva de los Infantes.
Villanueva de los Infantes is, in fact, that place in La Mancha whose name Cervantes did not want to remember. During this break it is almost mandatory to enjoy the town of Don Quixote in depth by visiting his museums and monuments.
From Villanueva, we will depart towards the mountains and the limits of La Mancha, where the old hidalgo rested and meditated during his adventure. In this part of the trip we will visit some places from the novel such as Viso del Marqués, Manzanares and Valdepeñas, where some of the most famous Spanish wineries are located.
The fourth section of the route takes us from the Valley of Alcudia to Campo de Calatrava. Here we will enjoy the thermal waters of Fuencaliente, as well as the forests and meadows of La Mancha. In this part of the trip we can visit the castles of Salvatierra and Calatrava la Nueva.
The next part of the trip starts in Albacete and runs through the Sierra de Alcaraz, visiting Balazote, where you can see the famous “Bicha”, a Phoenician statue, and enjoy Robledo or La Bienservida.
Next, from La Roda we will cross the famous La Mancha plains, on the way to Campos de Montiel, where you can discover its famous esparto crafts in towns such as Lezuza or El Bonillo.
From Campos de Montiel, we will continue towards the heart of La Mancha. This section begins by visiting the Quixote mills in Campo de Criptana, where you will also have the opportunity to visit the Sara Montiel Museum. From here, we will depart towards La Solana, crossing Argamasilla de Alba and Tomelloso.
In the next part of the Don Quixote route we will follow the banks of the Jabalón River, visiting the Carrión de Calatrava springs and the natural spaces of the Alarcos and Tablas de Daimiel parks. Finally, through the canyons we will finish this stage in Esquivias.
The ninth part of the road will take us through the north of the province of Toledo, through the region of La Sagra and Esquivias, where Cervantes himself lived . From here we will go to Carranque, passing through Illescas where you can enjoy the art of El Greco. Finally, when visiting this place, you cannot miss the famous archaeological park.
We finally reached the last stretch of the Don Quixote route. From Carranque, we will visit the Hoz del Río Dulce, one of the most impressive natural parks in Spain. From here we will continue towards Atienza, passing through Sigüenza, the city where El Doncel rests, a young knight who died and was buried in a chapel of the cathedral considered the best example of Spanish Renaissance.