“Guadalajara will charm you! History, culture, heritage, gastronomy and nature come together in a way that will make your stay unforgettable. Discover its capital and its noble medieval past, its genuine nature in the northern highlands and in the east of the province, or literary La Alcarria and its connection to popular traditions. We have to offer some of its most interesting itineraries that will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in one of the tastiest provinces of Castilla-La Mancha! “
The town of Doncel in Sigüenza boasts the second highest number of visitors in the entire region of Castilla-La Mancha. A medieval Conjunto Histórico Artístico (Historic-Artistic Site), it is highlighted by its Cathedral, one of the most spectacular, yet unknown buildings in all of Spain. It includes the tomb of the famous Doncel and its noteworthy chapels, altars such as the Altar of Santa Librada in Plateresque style designed by Covarrubias, as well as the Sacristía Mayor o de las Cabezas in which nearly 3000 heads are represented in the vault. There is also the cloister where “La Encarnación” of El Greco is housed, along with the collection of Flemish tapestries of Palas Atenea.
Apart from the cathedral, its parador nacional (national luxury hotel) is located in the ancient castle in the upper part of the city. Between the cathedral and the castle, we discover Romanesque churches such as the Church of Santiago or San Vicente. Also, squares such as Plaza Mayor, with arcades on two of its sides, that of the Cárcel and of San Vicente, where the home of Doncel is located. We cannot overlook the old Jewish quarter with its walls and its gates, as well as the expansion of the eighteenth century Baroque district of San Roque, to finally reach the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Huertos, currently occupied by the Poor Clares.
Near Sigüenza we can find the fraction of Palazuelos, also an Historic-Artistic Site, dubbed the “Ávila of the Sierra de Guadalajara“. Why, you may ask? Because it is one of Castilla’s best preserved city walls. In the opposite direction to Palazuelos, you will come across one of the three natural parks in Guadalajara, the Rio Dulce Natural Park, a small area of just over 8.300 hectares, where you can enjoy one of the most suggestive views of the park itself from the lookout point in the village of Pelegrina dedicated to Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
The provincial capital is the least known of all of Guadalajara, although it certainly is not devoid of heritage, culture and history. A city where the imprint of the great Mendoza family is reflected in its heritage, with the Palacio del Infantado, a UNESCO World Heritage Site candidate; the Convento de la Piedad, located in the second Renaissance palace built out of Italy; the ducal Crypt of the Mendozas situated in the Church of San Francisco and copy of the royal crypt of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
But Guadalajara is much more than just the Mendoza family. It is a keeper of mudéjar jewels such as the Co-Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Fuente La Mayor; the Church of Santiago and the Chapel of Luis de Lucena, with frescoes inside that date back to the early sixteenth century. Or peculiar monuments such as the Chinese hall of Palacio de la Cotilla, decorated with rice paper and one of a kind in Spain; or the complex of Las Adoratrices, which features the tomb of the Duchess of Sevillano, eclectic work built by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco.
If then you want to discover a town in the countryside nearby, about 20 minutes away you will encounter the town of Hita, an Historic-Artistic Site known for its Medieval Festival Archpriest of Hita in honour of Juan Ruiz and his book “Libro del Buen Amor” or “The Book of Good Love”, declared of National touristic interest, and always held on the first Saturday of July.
One of the three natural parks of the province of Guadalajara is located in the northern part of the region. It covers an area of over 125,000 hectares and includes the region’s three highest peaks, the Lobo, the Cebollera and the Ocejón. Let´s not overlook that here we can find the southernmost beech forest on all of the European continent, the Tejera Negra Beech Forest Nature Reserve.
The heart of this green lung is the location of the so-called Pueblos de la Arquitectura Negra, villages which highlight the valleys of Majaelrayo and Valverde de los Arroyos. All the buildings here, whether churches, homes, barns, silos, etc., are built using slate, of which the rock´s characteristic black colour, has given these villages their nickname. Popular architecture that blends with nature and with breathtaking landscapes such as the Despeñalagua Falls, with their 120 metre vertical drop.
We cannot miss the opportunity to recommend places that you will find near this beautiful retreat, such as Jadraque and its castle, located “on the most perfect hill in the world,” as Ortega y Gasset said; or Cogolludo and its Palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli, the first Renaissance palace built outside Italy; or Hiendelaencina, ancient mining town on the slopes of the massif of Alto Rey, where you can have a taste of delicious cabrito.
*Pictures by Manuel Granado
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