If you’re visiting Spain for the first time, be warned: this is a country that fast becomes an addiction. It is a magnet for travelers all over the world. The Spanish way of life is irresistible! It’s impossible not to warm to a culture where food, wine, family and friends take priority over almost everything else. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself hooked by something quite different… the wild celebration of some local fiesta, perhaps, or the otherworldly architecture of Barcelona. Even in the best-known places to visit, from Madrid to the coasts, from the high Pyrenees to the Moorish cities of the south. There are genuinely surprising attractions at every turn, whether it’s hip restaurants in the Basque country, the wild landscapes of the central plains, or cutting-edge galleries in the industrial north. Soon, you’ll notice that there is not just one Spain but many.
  • The largest city in Castilla-La Mancha is situated on a vast, flat stretch of farmland of great natural value. This peculiar orography gave the region its old Arab name: Al-Basit (the Plain). A journey through the region will allow you to perceive the intense commercial activity along its main arteries and the peace and quiet of its corners, so typical of La Mancha, awakened by the bustle that September brings, with its holidays and festivities that make this month the ideal time of year for a visit.

    Lovers of the arts and customs of La Mancha will enjoy a modern city that has preserved all of its traditional flavour. The cathedral of Saint John the Baptist is located in the oldest part of the city’s perfect urban layout. Although it is a Gothic building, its architecture includes different styles. The immense amount of time it took to build (four hundred years), yielded as a result a Gothic chapel, four great Renaissance columns, several Baroque elementsand a Neogothic main front.

    You must not leave the city without first taking a walk under the shade of the trees at Abelardo Sánchez Park and paying a visit to the Albacete Museum. It has exceptional collections of Archaeology, Fine Artsand Ethnology. You should definitely go shopping in the area around Ancha street. Shopping centres, as well as shops devoted to popular crafts (cutlery, knives and swords in particular) are located around here

  • Situated in Campo de Calatrava, landscape dominated by many hills, Ciudad Real offers a modern layout that has been able to maintain all the flavour of La Mancha. Better communicated thanks to the Madrid-Seville high speed train, this city offers us exceptional cuisine centred on game, cheese and wine. In addition, the Cabañeros and Las Tables de Daimler natural parks tell us of its rich ecosystems.

    During the Middle Ages, four kilometres of walls and one hundred and thirty towers protected a population made up of Christians, Moors and Jews. After the unification of the peninsular kingdoms under the Catholic Monarchs, Ciudad Real became the capital of the province of La Mancha in the 17th century. This fact favoured its economic development which was poured into important buildings. A good example of La Mancha Mudejar architecture (14th C.) is the Puerta de Toledo, one of the eight gates which opened in the city’s walled area. The area around the Plaza Mayor is a good area for tasting the wine with the La Mancha and Valdepeñas denominations of origin, which is good accompanied by some portions of the cheese from the region.

    La Mancha cheeses and Almagro aubergines, both with their own Denomination of Origin, serve as an aperitif for game dishes like rabbit with garlic, hare with rice, stewed partridge and so on. “Gachas” (made with flour), “migas” (breadcrumbs accompanied by pork products) and “tiznao” (cod with peppers, onions and garlic) are some suggestions. And, for dessert, “pestiños” (sweetened mixture of fried flour) or “mostillo” (sweet made from grape must), among many other recipes.

  • In the Region of Castile-La Mancha, between the Júcar and Huécar river canyons, you will find this city with the UNESCO World Heritage designation for its wealth of monuments. Its historic centre looks out over rocky canyon walls in the heart of the Cuenca Mountains. The Cathedral, Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses) and cobbled streets charm the most hardened traveller. A former Dominican convent houses the Cuenca Parador Hotel, where guests can rest and enjoy the region’s most traditional recipes.

    Cuenca’s old town has the UNESCO World Heritage designation, and the city spreads out from atop a promontory overlooking the ruins of its Moorish castle, the ancient Kunka fortress. Meanwhile, below, the modern city grows on the Júcar plain.

    The “upper city” – the medieval streets that give the city its character – begins beside the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Luz, next the San Antón bridge. Here begins a tour of the hills, steps and viewpoints which provide beautiful views.

    The Casas Colgadas are symbolic monuments in the city, which date from the 15th century. One of the houses contains the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art, one of the best in Spain. The wooden balconies of the Casas Colgadas hang over the course of the Huécar, but you have to cross the river to get one of the best panoramic views. On this bank, you can visit the city’s Parador de Turismo the former convent of San Pablo.

    Cuenca is only one of many points of interest in the province. Some 30 kilometres from the city you will find the first hills of the Cuenca Mountains, home to the unique landscape of the Enchanted City, made up of weird and wonderful formations, reminiscent of objects, animals and human forms, that water and wind erosion have carved out of the huge limestone rocks.

  • Watered by the River Henares, Guadalajara has a long history linked to the career of the Dukes of Infantado in the capital of La Alcarria. From its interesting legacy of monuments, the superb Infantado Palace – a real symbol of the city – is outstanding.

    The origins of Guadalajara go back to the Roman period, with the foundation of the early centre of Arriaca. It was under Arab domination when this settlement came to be called Wad-al-Hayara (“Stony River”), a placename that developed into its modern name. Its importance as an urban centre increased in the 12th century, when Alfonso VII granted a charter to the city, which was later extended by the kings Fernando III and Alfonso X. Undoubtedly, however, the greatest historical mark was left by the Mendoza, who, in the middle of the 15th C. received the lordship of Guadalajara and made the city splendid for centuries. The rich history of the capital of La Alcarria has left an important architectural legacy in its old town. The pedestrianised Calle Mayor is the spine of the historic part of the provincial capital, with buildings of great historic value like the City Hall, the great houses of the Plaza de los Dávalos or the old palace of the Mendozas, whose internal courtyard is an excellent example of Platersque art. But the most important civil building in the capital of La Alcarria is the Infantado Palace, considered a real symbol of the city.

    In the north-east of the province, Sigüenza, a town declared a Historic-Artistic Site, is outstanding. A traditional episcopal seat, the town is presided over by its 12th century medieval castle, now turned into a Parador de Turismo. Another monument worth pointing out is the Gothic Cathedral (12th C.), with Romanesque elements, which houses the famous carving of the Doncel de Sigüenza in one of its chapels.

  • Toledo is one of the Spanish cities with the greatest wealth of monuments. Known as the “city of the three cultures”, because Christians, Arabs and Jews lived together there for centuries, behind its walls Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques and synagogues. This great diversity of artistic styles makes the old quarter of the capital of Castile – La Mancha a real open-air museum, which has led to it being declared a World Heritage Site.

    Toledo is also a city linked to deep popular traditions, as the procession of the Most Holy Corpus Christi, a festival declared of International Tourist Interest, demonstrates every year.The city of Toledo has its origins in Toletum, the name the Romans gave to this settlement on the banks of the River Tagus after its conquest in 190 BC. The city maintained its importance for centuries and, in the Visigothic era, became the capital of Hispania (6th C.). The arrival of the Arabs in the 8th century, together with the presence of Christians and Jews, made Toledo the “city of the three cultures”.

    The maze of streets making up the historic centre of Toledo is only bounded by walls in which many gates were opened. The Bisagra gate, presided over by two bodies and a great imperial shield forms the main access to the city within the walls.

    One of the most outstanding buildings in the city is the Cathedral, considered one of the high points of Gothic art. The Cathedral Museum houses a rich collection of works by painters like Goya, El Greco, Lucas Jordán and Van Dyck.

    Toledo’s cuisine has various specialities based on game products, like stewed partridge,Toledo-style quail or venison with wild mushrooms. With the other provinces of La Mancha it shares pisto (based on pepper, tomato and onion), Castilian soup and migas (dish made with breadcrumbs and pork products). To round it off there is the famous La Mancha cheese and marzipan (made from ground almonds and sugar). These dishes may be accompanied with the wines of La Mancha and Méntrida, each with a Denomination of Origin.