Marquisate of Villena’s Castles: Belmonte, Garcimuñoz and Alarcon. 1 day
In this route, tourists will be able to know three important Villages, declared “Historical-Artistic Complex” and were part of the Marquisate of Villena. The visit is full of palatial intrigues, medieval battles and, especially, different personalities that marked the course of the history in Spain.
In addition, the visitor will discover three completely different concepts of how to renovate a castle, from the most classic style to the most innovative one.
Know castles and palaces in this route
The Marquis of Villena, Don Juan Pacheco, ordered it built in Mudejar Gothic style in 1456. He was trusted man of King Henry IV of Castile, and the most powerful lord in the kingdom at the time.
The star-shaped layout of the castle is one-of-a-kind, and its palatial interior decorated with luxurious Mudejar roofs in the halls and galleries, as well as the "medieval bestiary" sculpted in stone, are nonpareil in Spain. All this undeniably makes for one of the most emblematic castles in our country.
The castle has been perfectly preserved thanks to the efforts of its owners over the centuries, completed with the latest restoration. On this occasion, the Ducal House of Peñaranda and Montijo, descendants of the Marquis of Villena and owners of the Castle, have been supported by public institutions.
The Castle of Belmonte reopened its doors to the public in July 2010, offering the visitor a cultural tour throughout the history of this emblematic monument, all the way from the 15th century to the present. The cultural tour provides an audio guide in 4 languages (Spanish, English, French and Italian), an audio-visual room with a large-screen 12-minute projection as an introduction to the tour, and light and sound technology that make visitors travel to a different time.
Moreover, since August 2018, the largest historic-thematic park with real-scale siege machines in the world, Trebuchet Park, has been located at the foot of the fortress.
Throughout the tour, visitors can observe 40 siege machines in four different thematic areas: the Christian world, the Muslim world, the Eastern world and the Renaissance. Regarding the timeline, the artefacts in the first three spaces are from the 5th and 14th centuries, and the Renaissance area set in the 15th–16th century.
All of the machines have been tested and they work just as they did at the time, reconstructed with the same period materials. Historically rigorous, they used available documentation (miniatures, engravings, period texts, iconographic depictions and archaeological remains)
- Download the Audioguide App from your mobile device by clicking the following icon and do not forget to bring your own headphones
Castillo de Garcimuñoz is a small town in the province of Cuenca, which was declared a historic complex in 2002. Its main peculiarity is that it is made up of two different castles: one on top of the other. Namely, the castle that was inhabited by Don Juan Manuel since 1312 and the other that was built by the Marquis of Villena Don Juan Pacheco in 1458.
The first references to the Castle of Arab origin date back to the year 1172 when the Emir Abu Yacub Yusuf, by way of Huete, destroys and enslaves its women and children. Restored by Garcí-Muñoz, it was inhabited by Don Juan Manuel who controlled the manor of Villena from this settlement, and so continued the successive marquises until Don Juan Pacheco moved the control center to Belmonte.
In the visit to this castle you can see the North-south wall that protected it, and various spaces organized around an inner courtyard that acted as a distributor.
The castle of Don Juan Pacheco began to be built in 1458 on the remains of the previous one that had been demolished. The master who built it was Martín Sánchez Bonifacio, one of the members of the School of Toledo.
It's a transition castle to Fort Bastions, built in Elizabethan Gothic style as testified by its billiard of Çross and Orb and the decorative frame that surrounds the castle below the windows of the second floor, the diamond tips and Avila´s balls of its cover, etc
Its destruction and the recess of its canvases and towers occur from the year 1663 when a Castle's bay becomes the current Church of St. John the baptist, inaugurated in 1708. The Castle's walls served as a quarry for the works of the Church.
The castle has been recently restored (2010-2016) by Izaskun Chinchilla in postmodern Style. It is a controversial restoration, where the sculpture is mixed with the architecture, but it is worth the visit to assess the different styles of restoration of Castles.
The rehabilitation carried out permits the visit to:
- The homage tower with 16.5 meters in diameter whose original cistern has been recovered.
- The four Gothic windows on the second floor and the singular windows of the First.
- The inside of the Southwest tower that ends the visit to this castle and leads to the platform that gives access to the castle of Don Juan Manuel, in it we find 40 solar chimneys today which are only decorative.
With more than 13 centuries of history, the Parador de Alarcón will transport you back to the Middle Ages with its historic features, especially the castle keep and its elegant red and orange textiles. Perched high atop the craggy Pico de los Hidalgos in a meander of the Júcar River, almost as if it were an eagle's nest, the Parador overlooks one of Spain's loveliest villages. Small and charming, Alarcón has been declared an Area of Artistic-Historical Importance due to its beauty and harmony. Encircled by a wall, it is located next to the reservoir of the same name. You will love the wetlands, dotted with small sandy beaches along the banks, pine woods, coves and giant rocks. You can also go sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and rowing.
The waters of the Júcar River are ideal for fishing. The river slows as it passes Alarcón, flowing through many delightful spots, and encircling and protecting the town's former fortress. Santa María Church is a must-see and features one of the best preserved Renaissance altarpieces. Castañeda Palace, the Alarcón Mural Painting Center for Contemporary Art, Don Juan Manuel Square and Santo Domingo de Silos Church are other sights you will want to visit.
Hiking through the Alarcón Gorge will take you to many beautiful locations. There are two wonderful options: a long-distance footpath following the route of the Júcar River, and a short-distance footpath that skirts Alarcón, offering lovely views.
180 km from Madrid and 170 km from Valencia, this is an ideal spot to spend a weekend and get away from it all. All you have to do is get out of the city and relax, Alarcón and our Parador will take care of the rest.