Travel

Windmills of La Mancha

The windmills of Consuegra in the region of Castile-La Mancha, Spain, where first made famous after Cervantes wrote his novel, Don Quixote, in the 16th century.    These beautiful works of art seem to stand sentry over the past.  The mills, with their powerful blades or sails, were used to grind grain.  They were built with two floors.  There was a canal that was used as a shoot for the grain,  a storage area, and a wooden type lever, in the upper room, to move the sails or dome around.  The structures were supposedly passed down from generation to generation, father to son.  The windmills were each given unique names, in order to tell them apart:   Santo Domingo, La Zorra, Blanco, and names like Por si Pega.

Photo: Christina Dawson

These Spanish mills of Consuegra are located in the provence of Toledo.  Twelve out of the thirteen original mills have been refurbished.  One even has a small gift shop inside, where you can purchase miniature size replicas of the cylindrical structures.  For a small fee you can go upstairs to have a view from the window and see some of the equipment they used for milling the grain.

Photo: Christina Dawson

While there, you can view the medieval Castle of Consuegra standing on a hilltop overlooking the arid plains.  The Castle dates back to the 10th century.  Muslims originally occupied the structure until the Christians conquered the area around 1083.  For a small fee you can tour the building and learn about the rich history of the area.

Photo: Christina Dawson

A short drive northwest from Consuegra is the small medieval town of Toledo.  A gem of a city – not to be missed.   Toledo has been called “The City of The Three Cultures,” for it’s unique blend of cultural, religious and architectural diversity.  For centuries Christians, Jews and Arabs lived together here building their churches, synagogs and mosques.  The fortresses, castles and cobble stone streets stand as a monument to the past, beautifully preserved for generations to come.  The city has even been designated a World Heritage Site.

Photo: Christina Dawson

The Jewish quarter in historic Toledo is a must for any visitor.  Tour the Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca, built in 1180, considered the oldest synagog in all of Europe;  Get tickets to see the Casa y Museo de El Greco, a museum dedicated to the famous Greek painter of the Spanish Renaissance.  Take in the beautiful Gothic Cathedral errected in the 15th century ,which took over 200 years to build, and hike up to the Alcazar, an old Roman palace built on the highest point of the city;   lastly, don’t miss the Franciscan church, the Monastery de San Juan de los Reyes, built by the Spanish Queen, Elizabeth of Castile.  With so many things to do there, you may even want to book an overnight stay.

Photo: Christina Dawson

This area of Spain is considered the art “capital” of the country.  With so many photo opportunities, don’t forget to pack your camera.  Delight yourself in the rich history of La Mancha, with it’s uniquely preserved windmills, and day trip to Toledo, to experience a city steeped in artistic and cultural diversity.  Escape to Spain and experience the history of a nation.

 

 

References:  Wikipedia, Toledo Sensations Private Tours, Touropia, Spain.info