We suggest that you travel part of the Don Quixote route by car through the most beautiful villages of Castile-La Mancha, discovering the places where Cervantes found inspiration for his work.
“In a place in La Mancha whose name I don’t want to remember”….
Thus begins one of the most famous works of Spanish literature, the book written by Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha was written at the beginning of the 17th century and is still relevant today. You have probably read the book at school, which narrates the adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and the role of the windmills.
🔝 The Quixote Route is one of the places to see around Madrid, and its proximity to the capital makes it a perfect getaway.
Castilla La Mancha is the place chosen by Cervantes to tell the story of this noble knight. We have travelled through the main villages along the Don Quixote route by car. Let’s discover them together.
Don Quixote Route by car through Castile-La Mancha
Before starting our route of Don Quixote by car, which we have chosen to do in a weekend, it should be made clear that there are many options of towns and cities in La Mancha to relive a chapter of the literary work.
The website of the Castilla La Mancha Tourist Office provides a brochure with all the places within the region where part of the play takes place. Thus, you can start the route from Toledo or from a village in La Mancha near Andalusia, Albacete or Cuenca.
Ideally, Quixote route should be done in three days, with the first stop in Tembleque and the last in Belmonte. In this section you can admire the beautiful windmills, one of the most important places of the tourist route, and the charm of the villages of La Mancha.
Ruta del Quijote Map with the towns we have visited
1. Tembleque and its beautiful Plaza Mayor
The first stop is the village of Tembleque, where everything revolves around its beautiful Plaza Mayor, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. Originally from the 17th century, it has a special charm due to the façade of the Town Hall building and the wooden arcades of the surrounding buildings.
Another point of interest is the church of La Asunción next to the hermitage of the Virgen del Rosario. If we walk a few metres from the Plaza Mayor we come across one of the most attractive 18th century manor houses, the Casa de las Torres.
2. Consuegra, a must-see on the Don Quixote route by car
On this route of Don Quixote by car you cannot miss a visit to Consuegra, for us one of the things to do in Castile-La Mancha. Located at the foot of the Calderico hill, it has two attractions that make it important: la Muela castle and the windmills.
La Muela Castle dates back to the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century. It is one of the best preserved castles in Castile-La Mancha, so a visit is a must. Furthermore, from the castle you can see the whole town of Consuegra and the landscape of La Mancha.
As for the imposing mills, most of the original ones remain today, with the exception of only one. Most of them date back to the 19th century and have the particularity that each one has its own name. For example, Bolero is the mill where the tourist office works and the wheat mill is preserved, Sancho has original machinery from the 16th century and in the Caballero del Verde Gabán mill you can find different versions of Don Quixote.
3. Alcázar de San Juan, a town with charm
The next stop is Alcázar de San Juan, where we can also see windmills on the outskirts of the city.
Of the four mills, two are open to the public and can be visited inside free of charge. One of the mills has a souvenir shop and the second displays the parts that make up these classic mills. Being on a hill, the views are incredible. We recommend going to watch the sunset from here, simply wonderful.
In the town, the Plaza de Santa María, the palace of the Gran Prior and the church of Santa María la Mayor are worth a visit. The manor houses from the 17th to the 19th centuries are also important.
Another point of interest in Alcázar de San Juan is the Casa del Hidalgo museum. It is housed in a 16th century manor house and shows, through original objects and pieces, what life was like for the noblemen who inspired the literary work.
4. Campo de Criptana, among windmills
Another of the places to see on the Don Quixote route is Campo de Criptana where the ten windmills located in the Sierra de la Paz stand out. Three of the mills date back to the 16th century and have kept their original elements, which they put to work every Saturday and have their names: Burleta, Infanto and Sardinero.
Strolling through the village also has its charm. Here we find historic buildings such as the Pósito, an old agricultural bank from the 16th century, hermitages and ancestral homes.
You should also visit the Albaicín neighbourhood, which is very similar to the one in Granada, with its low houses with their white façades, Arabic tiles and narrow streets.
5. El Toboso, Dulcinea’s village
To visit El Toboso is to stroll through Dulcinea’s village, a town of low houses, a lot of peace and quiet and of course a must-see: the house where Dulcinea, Don Quixote’s beloved, supposedly lived.
Originally from the 16th century and declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, it retains its 17th century furnishings. Inside, you can walk around the two floors and the interior courtyard of the house, where the daily life of the people of La Mancha in those centuries is depicted.
The square next to the Town Hall is also worth a visit. As a curious place, the Cervantino Museum is interesting as it houses a collection of more than 500 editions of Don Quixote, written in different languages.
6. Belmonte and its castle
Built on the San Cristobal hill, the castle of Belmonte began in the mid-15th century and was one of the settings that inspired Cervantes in his book Don Quixote.
In a perfect state of preservation, it can be visited inside to contemplate all the beauty it holds within its walls. Here you will come across the parade ground, the ramparts, domes carved in stone and wood and a vaulted chamber sculpted in stone.
From the castle you can see the landscape of La Mancha, the village of Belmonte and some of the windmills that are scattered around the site.
🔝 Take a look at our article to visit Belmonte and its castle.
What to eat on the Quixote route
The Don Quixote route by car also gives you the chance to savour the exquisite food of La Mancha. Some of the dishes not to be missed are the following:
- Caldereta de cordero (lamb stew): a true delicacy from Castilla La Mancha. It is a leg of lamb accompanied by a sauce made from white wine, pepper, garlic and onion.
- Gazpacho Manchego: it is basically a stew served on top of a Manchego flour cake. To make the stew, different types of meat and even tomato and peppers are mixed.
- Pisto Manchego: a stir-fry of different types of vegetables from the garden, including peppers and courgettes, although it can include more variety depending on the time of year.
- Migas: ideal for cold days as it is a very calorific dish, the main ingredient is crumbled stale bread to which olive oil, garlic, chorizo and some kind of meat is usually added.
- Manchego cheese: with Denomination of Origin, Manchego cheese is made from Manchego breed sheep’s milk. A real delicacy worth tasting.
- Gachas manchegas: made with almond flour, typical of Castilla La Mancha, it is like a purée that mixes oil, garlic, pork belly and paprika with the flour.
- Tortas de Alcázar: a typical sweet from the town of Alcázar de San Juan, it is a thin spongy cake with boiled milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon added to the top.
- Rice with duz: very similar to rice pudding, but instead of milk, water is used.
We probably left out some Manchego dish along the way, there is so much to try that there is not enough time.
Where to stay on the Quixote Route
There are many villages in La Mancha where you can sleep if you do the Don Quixote route by car. We recommend staying in one of the three most important towns: Belmonte, Alcázar de San Juan or Consuegra.
Our recommendations are as follows:
- Palacio del Infante Don Juan Manuel Hotel Spa: in Belmonte. It is a former 14th century palace with views of the castle, spa and garden. The communal areas still retain their medieval charm. It has an outdoor swimming pool.
- El Patio de los Jazmines: in Consuegra. Country house with very nice details in the decoration, very quiet, spacious rooms and outdoor pool.
- Hotel Convento de Santa Clara: in Alcázar de San Juan. A former 16th century convent that has kept its period furniture and original style. It has a restaurant serving Manchegan dishes.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels on the route of Don Quixote.
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