Surely we have heard about the Cantar del Mío Cid or Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the famous Cid Campeador. This song tells the story of this famous 12th century knight, his adventures and exploits through the Spanish territory. From the same book, as detailed in the places he walked, a curious itinerary was created to be able to travel it as the Camino de Santiago. A trip to Spain following the episodes that appear in this book passing through the lands of Castilla y León, Castilla La Mancha, Aragón and the Valencian Community. The Cid’s Way.
This Spanish knight was born in Burgos, specifically in Vivar del Cid, a village from which this route will depart until reaching the territory that conquered the Muslims in Alicante, precisely in Orihuela. It is a historical and literary route that will take us through places that have been declared World Heritage as well as points that coincide with the Camino de Santiago by the French way.
Steps in the Route
The route of The Cid’s Way consists of about 2000 kms in total, the routes are usually 50 to 300 km away and are joining one after another. The itinerary can be done either by road if we decide to opt for the car or motorbike, or through roads and trails if we choose to go on foot or by bicycle.
Within the original itinerary there are other smaller routes starting from different points. These themed tours are called “rings” at the beginning and start at the same point. There are also the “ramales”, which are deviations that are made on the route for historical reasons. On this occasion we will focus and explain the five stages into which the original section is divided. There are five posts that reflect the different episodes narrated in the “Cantar del Mio Cid” (Song of the Mio Cid).
Section 1. Exile.
The first of the routes, which has about 285 kilometers that run on dirt roads and mountain. Like the Camino de Santiago, they are divided into stages, approximately 14 or 15 on foot, although it is also possible by bicycle, but in fewer stages.
The starting point as we said before will be in the birthplace of Cid, Vivar del Cid reaching Atienza in Guadalajara. In this route it relates the exile due to the king Alfonso VI. When he was expelled, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar left Castile with his family and some knights. With an established deadline El Cid must leave his family in the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña and on the way try to recruit new knights. During this part of the Song also appear other poems such as the Afrenta de Corpes. It will be one of those deviations from the Way. Although it has historically left Castile in the Sierra de Pela, and ends up in Muslim terrain, we will begin it in its native town as we said before.
Section 2. Frontier Lans.
The second route consists of 267 kilometres divided into 12 stages. Within this route we have the possibility of covering about 80 kms more if we choose to make the branch, specifically is the Algarada de Álvar Fáñez, obviously consisting of more stages. The route starts from Atienza to the monastery of Santa María de Huerta, in Ateca (Zaragoza). We will pass through the Sierra de Guadalajara or the Barranco de Río Lobo Natural Park.
We will leave Atienza, following the route of this second section that continue through points that marked the borders between Muslim and Christian lands. This second section of the Cid’s way continues along the points that then delimited the border between the Muslim and Christian domains. A territory where the Champion Cid began to forge his warrior legend. It starts in Atienza (Guadalajara) and ends in Ateca (Zaragoza). After the victory of one of the strongest battles in the Song, the Cid takes his fame as a warrior as he approaches Valencian lands.
Section 3. The Three Taifas.
We are at the equator of this itinerary, with a total of 289 kilometres to cover, some 14 stages. We will pass through the provinces of Zaragoza, Guadalajara and Teruel. As we explained before, there are branches and rings, well, in this tour we will find two rings. One of them of 47 kilometers starting from Daroca, and another the ring of Montalbán leaving Luco de Jiloca.
In this third route we will leave Ateca to arrive at Cella in Teruel. In this part of the poem appear four essential milestones El Poyo del Cid, in Teruel, Molina de Aragón, in Guadalajara, Albarracín, in Teruel, and lastly Cella, point in which he gathered those he wanted to conquer by his side Valencia.
Section 4. The Conquest of Valencia.
A 245-kilometre stretch, 12 stages on foot. Leaving from Cella we will arrive to Valencia. Inside it we will be able to find two rings and a branch, that to taste of each one we will realize or not. The two rings are Maestrazgo and Morella, on the other hand the Castellón branch of 48 kilometers along the coast between Sagunto and Castellón de la Plana.
From Cella the Cid left, and he pronounced himself before leaving saying that whoever wanted to fence Valencia with him, would wait for him in Cella. That’s where he’d gather his army. A route in which we will follow in the footsteps of his most recognized feat, the taking of Valencia. The Cid took Valencia on June 15, 1094 after a hard process.
Section 5. The Defense of the South.
Although we believe that the route of the Cid Campeador ends with the Conquest of Valencia is not like that. The Song does not end here, the surroundings of this city and this same one are scenes of battles and reconquest. It runs along 244 kilometres, some 10 or 11 stages on foot, through Valencian and Alicante lands. We will go from the city of Valencia to finish in Orihuela.
During this part of the Song, the route shows us the conquests and buildings built by the Cid because of the defense of the territory that conquered. Successive battles were fought in these territories with the desire to recover the city. The Cid Campeador will also die in Valencia, with the title of prince of the city in 1099.
There are different ways to do the Cid’s way, either by bike, car, foot, or even on horseback. On this occasion we wanted to explain the sections on foot since the Cid Campeador also made the pilgrimage to Santiago. Also from Burgos we can follow the famous yellow arrows to get to the Cathedral. The route can be done in reverse, or even link the first route with the Camino de Santiago by the French route.