There's an officially recognized touristic Don Quixote route that goes through 148 Spanish towns. Travel throughout La Mancha and discover Don Quixote route
In Miguel de Cervantes' famous novel: El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha), the principal character makes three adventurous trips through the Spanish regions of La Mancha, Aragón and Barcelona. The novel was published in two separate volumes a decade apart (1605 and 1615) and is known as the most influential work of Spanish literature of the Golden Age. Don Quixote is a founding work of Western literature and is regarded as one of the greatest works of fiction ever published.
Since Don Quixote was published, there has been controversy regarding exactly which villages Quixote passed through. Many authors have suggested certain routes based on the descriptions provided in the novel. However, the descriptions are not detailed enough to reach a common conclusion.
Based primarily in Romagosa's theory, in 1780 the Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española) published a version that is recognized as being the most accurate and plausible route. The facts continue to be studied and new versions of the real Don Quixote routes are still being published.
There is an officially recognized touristic Don Quixote route that goes through 148 towns throughout its more than 1,243 mi. (2,000 km.) of routes that cover a vast stretch of historical and livestock trails that are indicated with clear signs. The route is divided into 10 itineraries and 56 stages that unite the most important sites highlighted in Cervantes' masterpiece. The Don Quixote Route was distinguished in 2007 as a European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe.
10 Itineraries of the Don Quixote Route
- Toledo to San Clemente via El Toboso and Belmonte - The Don Quixote Route begins in Toledo, capital of Castile-La Mancha, and UNESCO World Heritage site. In this itinerary, hikers will have the chance to discover the famous windmills, town squares, castles, and varied architectural themes, as well as the environmental richness that the lakes provide.
- San Clemente to Villanueva de los Infantes via the Ruidera Lakes - On this itinerary, walkers will view some of the most important monuments in La Mancha. This region is also one of the most extensive areas of lakes in Spain and an excellent place to view migratory birds on their journey from Africa to Europe.
- Villanueva de los Infantes to Almargro and Calatrava la Nueva - The third part of the Don Quixote route will take you to the edge of La Mancha and through the remote mountain ranges. It is here, that the Don Quixote retired in order to think about his new and reckless undertakings.
- Valle de Alcudia to Campo de Calatrava via the Ruidera Lakes - This majestic route boasts ancestral human presence, spa-water, volcanoes, Mediterranean woodlands and grasslands, vineyards, olive trees and grain fields. The landscape is dotted with castles and fortresses, marking milestones in Spanish history.
- Albacete to Alcaraz and Bienservida - Starting in Albacete, the most populated city of Castile- La Mancha, this walk takes advantage of a railway line that was never used and heads into the vegetation of a mountain ranged called Sierra de Alcaráz until reaching the boundaries with Sierra Morena.
- La Roda to Los Campos de Montiel - The sixth route starts off to the north of Albacete in the plains of La Mancha. This area features river canyons, such as River Júcar, that has etched out its path through the landscape over time.
- Campo de Criptana a Tomelloso - In this adventure, discover Don Quixote's La Mancha from north to south. The trip begins in Campo de Criptana, at the foot of the famous windmills that scatter over the hills of the Sierra de la Paz mountain range.
- Almagro to Toledo via Ciudad Real and Consuegra - This trek begins on the banks of the Jabalón river, where signs of past volcanic activities are in the form of craters and lake basins, and old herding paths are still used by migrating animals and flocks.
- Esquivias to Illescas and Carranque - In the Sierra of La Sagra, to the North of Toledo, this journey takes you to Esquivias, where you can visit the house where Cervantes lived. In Illescas discover paintings from Spanish artist El Greco in the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Caridad and in Carranque visit an Archaeological park.
- La Hoz del Río Dulce to Sigüenza and Atienza - The last itinerary on the Route of Don Quixote takes travelers to the northern borders of Castile-La Mancha where they can enjoy the rich natural landscape and the remaining Romanesque architecture.
The adventures of Don Quixote have spread throughout the world as one of the most translated novels in history. In Castile La-Mancha, Spain, Don Quixote is a recognized cultural symbol. His legend has generated cultural tourism of people eager to experience the social and geographic reality of what Cervantes' masterfully described in The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha.
Whichever route may be the true one described in Cervantes' novel, we do know that the vast majority of Don Quixote's adventures took place in what is today the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. There, any journey will help one discover the soul of La Mancha and its traditions, the true inspiration behind Don Quixote.
The Don Quixote route offers visitors the possibility to travel through remote lands that for hundreds of years have formed part of human memory. We invite you to enjoy the longest historical tourist route in Europe, where wind mills still dot the vast horizon. Accompany Don Quixote of La Mancha through centuries of Spanish history!