Castilla-La Mancha is universally known for its knight of Cervantes; for Toledo, the city of the three cultures, for the Lagunas de Ruidera or for the famous suspended houses of Cuenca. Without a doubt, this region is unjustly known, for the most part, for the typical attractions and cites, while the heart of the autonomous community, the historic region of La Mancha, offers the most surprising destinations. Places with history and their own characters that generously open up to the passage of all travelers who decided to delve into them. Today, we extend to you some of the undiscovered spots of La Mancha.
This villa in Toledo conserves in its historic shell, teeming with chapels and noble houses, all the flavor of the past centuries. The most striking thing in Tembleque is its characteristic Plaza Mayor, inaugurated by the king Felipe IV in 1653, which is the prototype of the Plaza Manchega: a large space squared off and arcaded, with beautiful wooden balconies for the attendees of the festivities celebrated in the plaza, especially when it was converted into a site in the Plaza de Toros. Their ovens also never disappoint: ask for some tasty partridges or the typical lamb in one of the multiple elaborate dishes that they prepare in their restaurants.
Consuegra and Campo de Criptana
These two little towns can be found very close together, and they are two places in La Mancha known for their traditional windmills (that are not giants). Campo de Criptana has 10 surviving windmills of the quarantine that can house people; 3 of these even conserves the original machinery from the 16th century, while others have been converted into small museums. Something that deserves to be mentioned on its own is Albaicín Criptano, a neighborhood that lies beside the windmills, of steep cobblestone streets and the precious whitewashed houses of La Mancha. Consuegra possesses twelve other windmills that line up beside the castle on the crown of the hill Calderico, one of the best views for those who wish take in the scenery of the region.
The beautiful community of Almagro lies in that which formerly was the territory called Orden de Calatrava. This Conjunto Hístorico-Artístico also boasts of its Plaza Mayor, and it is no wonder: this beautiful area resting on stone supports is a unique element that one cannot find anywhere else in the country. But the plaza is also one of those unknown unique places of La Mancha: it hides a unique open-air auditorium which presently conserves much that existed throughout Spain in the 17th century. The space was accidentally discovered in the 1950s and completely restored. Today, this spot alone accommodates part of the Festival Internacional de Teatro Clásico de Almagro.
Between the provinces of Toledo and Ciudad Real there lies this natural jewel that ended up being converted into a firing range for the military, but not for the important mass demonstrations that took place to convert it into a national park. This important extension of scrubland has been historically a grazing ground, the little huts that frame the pastures like a shelter should be added to its name. In reality, the Parque Nacional de Cabañeros harbors numerous species, plants and animals, some of which are endangered, like the Buitre Negro (Black Vulture), the Águila Imperial (Imperial Eagle), or the Cabra Montesa (Mountain Goat), that one can observe on a trail through the enormous network of paths that cover the park. All of this flora and fauna turn Cabañeros into one of the most beautiful unknown spots of La Mancha.
Nestled in the middle of the gorges that create the Júcar, the community of Alarcón is a hidden treasure in the natural foothills. It consists of a locality that the patrimonial wealth still encloses its streets situated in the middle of an incomparable natural setting. The ancient church of San Juan Bautista, reconverted into the Centro de Pintura Mural de Alarcón, or the impenetrable fortress in the oldest part of the hills are only some of the marvels that await you in this little corner of La Mancha. Neither can you miss the opportunity to tour the Hoces del Júcar in one of its multiple possibilities, either on foot, by horse, or even in a canoe.
San Carlos del Valle
To the east of the province of Ciudad Real, driving a history of miracles and pilgrimages, one can find the interesting community of San Carlos del Valle. In this community, with an unconventional urban organization for the region, the impressive array formed by the Plaza Mayor and the Iglesia del Santísimo Cristo del Valle attracts every gaze. They consist of a beautiful arcaded square with wooden balconies that acts as a courtyard for the monumental church (which can be seen from many kilometers away), one of the most prominent late Baroque s that one can find in this independent community. The church was constructed to house the large amount of pilgrims that at one time were drawn to the image of Cristo Milagrero houses inside.
Tablas de Daimiel
Considered between the principle Spanish aquifer ecosystems, the Tablas de Daimiel sit, along with Cabañeros, the two biggest national parks with those which cover Castilla-La Mancha. While traversing its waters, one can find valuable examples like the Garza Real or the Zampullín Cuellinegro. You can find this marsh originated from the flooding of the Guadiana and Cigüela rivers in the migratory route of many birds that will leave you with your mouth hanging open with the peaceful beauty that permeates this magical place.
This locality in the south of the community is one of the unknown places of La Mancha despite becoming the site of an important uprising against Napoleon’s troops during the Guerra de la Independencia, liberating the insurgents of much of the region. The history of Valdepeñas has always been very attached to wine, an excellent product of the region considered the best vineyard in the world. Thus, in this precious town one can visit the Museo del Vino, as well as a series of wineries, many of which organize wine production workshops and tastings for all who visit. An indispensable place for all the lovers of the good stocks, that even has its own designation of origin.