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The Route of El Cid

El Cid

El Cid. The Route of El Cid trail in Spain is based on the anonymous Spanish book El Cantar de Mio Cid, allegedly written between 1195AD-1207AD.

Spain is a country whose heroes of the past are quickly forgotten or barely remembered. In fact, those that have remained alive in memory owe it to their active role in the fight for the Reconquest of Hispania (which later became divided into several kingdoms: Castile, León, Aragón...) from the grip of the Moors between 711A.D. (the year that the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula began, creating Al-Ándalus - today's Andalucía) and 1492.

There are two heroes in particular who have the tender admiration of the Spanish population, thus holding an important place in the nation´s memory: Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, known as El Cid Campeador; and Don Pelayo, first King of Asturias in 718A.D. and heir to the Kingdom of Hispania.

These men were not only similar in their physical robust appearance but were also similar in ethics and morals. The recovery of their ancestors' land and values were the driving aim of their lives. They were actively involved at the forefront of the Reconquista, winning battles, protecting their men and remaining in the collective memory for both their courageousness on the battlefield and their sense of honor.

The Route of El Cid

The more than 1,929km of asphalt roads or 1,709km of rural paths that make up the so-called Camino del Cid (Route of The Cid), provide a unique opportunity to travel a fantastic route while discovering more about the life of one of Spain´s most mythical characters, El Cid. This trajectory is an invitation to not only commemorate the history of this important figure who is inextricably linked to fights and battles, but also to remember the plotting against the throne, the disputes between lords and the love he had for his wife (Doña Jimena Díaz) and their children.

The Route of El Cid trail is based on the anonymous book El Cantar de Mio Cid (Song of the Cid), allegedly written between 1195AD-1207AD. However there are also clear historical foundations mentioned in several sections. The trail begins in Vivar del Cid, in the Castilian province of Burgos and comes to an end in Valencia, the city in which El Cid died in 1099. The Camino del Cid does not follow a linear narrative, instead it is made up of a series of narrative threads with thematic themes that cover large geographical areas. This allows the Camino del Cid to trace a vast expanse of territory, which reveals entire regions of Burgos, Soria, Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Teruel, Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.

The life of Cid Campeador was continually marked by struggles. As previously mentioned, El Cid was a warrior from a noble family who served the Castilian kings, Sancho II The Strong (1065-1072) and his brother and successor Alfonso VI. Much to the misfortune of Rodrigo Díaz, decisions taken on the Toledo battle front did not please Alfonso VI and as a result, forced him into exile in 1081. During his exile, which lasted five long years, El Cid was at the service of a Muslim king of Zaragoza who was defending his territory against his brother, the king of Lérida and his allies, the Count of Barcelona and the king of Aragón. In the battles he participated in under the orders of the King of Zaragoza, El Cid emerged victorious, excelling in the battle of Almenar against the King of Lerida in 1082 and the battle of Morella against the count of Barcelona in 1084. Following his return from exile, Alfonso VI sent him back to Levante to fight for Castile. However, new disagreements with the Castilian king forced Rodrigo into a second exile, this time a permanent one due to the fact that Rodrigo decided not to return to be under royal discipline and instead fight under his own rule in Levante. He conquered Valencia, only to die five years later in the capital of the Turia River.

The legend of El Cid has remained stable throughout the centuries and the poem Cantar del Mio Cid has contributed to the survival of this story, which to this day makes El Cid the most recognized hero in the history of Spain. Although his story has historical foundations, the main source of information about Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar is in fact a fictional book, which only serves to re-enforce the air of mystery surrounding his character.