Following a route through Castile La Mancha in Eastern Spain, one can understand the nation's culture and history through the eyes of literary hero Don Quixote.
Miguel De Cervantes, the creator of "Don Quixote," was born in the town of Alcalá de Henares. This UNESCO World Heritage site is northeast of Madrid and means "citadel on the river."
Alcalá de Henares was one of the earliest towns in Europe to begin a university. The works of Cervantes paved the way for its academic excellence and status in the world of literature.
The 16th-century Plaza Mayor is unique for its 234 wooden balconies. Used for livestock fairs in times past, the plaza square today offers excellent dining options.
Located in a beautiful countryside, Cuenca is known for housing Spain's first Gothic cathedral and the ornate Casas Colgadas (hanging houses), suspended from sheer cliffs overlooking the Huécar river.
Pictured here is the Casa de Medrano cell in Argamasilla de Alba, where Cervantes supposedly began writing "Don Quixote."
Among Don Quixote’s plains, Alarcón is surprisingly unique. It's a medieval walled city which contains an impressive castle, Parador de Alarcón, built by Muslims in the 8th century.
Consuegra is a city of windmills – and a castle. The 11 molinos (meaning "windmills") are pristine white cylinders with black conical caps. Each have names, including Sanco, Bolero and Mambrino.
Consuegra is also a capital of saffron spice. Considered the most expensive spice in the world, it takes about 75,000 Crocus sativus flowers to produce one pound of saffron.
Castilla-La Mancha, or "New Castilla," contains a wide plateau, with farms and ranches on the suitable flat land and vineyards in the mountainous areas.
For centuries, Toledo has been a congregation of three cultures: Christian, Jewish and Muslim. Influences can be seen throughout the old, narrow, winding streets and the vibrant art cafes and shops.
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