In a place in La Mancha, whose name… we are sure you will remember, is the route that every lover of history and culture will want to visit.
The places that compose this route are located in different towns and provinces that cross the autonomous community of Castilla la Mancha. These giants that our precious Don Quixote confused were formerly water mills. After the drought of this area in which they are settled, they became windy. Today, those windmills that have been restored are used to grind grain, others have become part of history in the form of a museum. They have been preserved and given the importance they deserve thanks to associations that have dedicated themselves to preserving them.
The windmills are spread over considerable distances but not far away due to their size and function. So you should keep in mind that you will need accommodation. You can also take the route by public transport but we recommend (so you can take your time) that you do it by car. Are you ready to see up close what inspired Miguel de Cervantes back in the 17th century? Here is a summary of the tour
This village described by Sancho Panza in the second part of the book has 3 mills, the first ones you will see if you are travelling along the Madrid-Andalusia motorway. Two of them have been restored from scratch on the old foundations in 2000 and their blades replaced in 2015. Tembleque had at one time in history up to 6 mills.
It has 4 windmills in very good condition, in fact usually used one of them (The breast) in the Feast of the Mills to grind. These festivals include concerts, dances, choral presentations, parades in costumes and even theatrical performances of Don Quixote. The oldest of the windmills is called “Crítica” and dates back to 1852. Four years later “Los gorrinos” was built, both of which are now used as exhibition halls. Finally, “Muela” is still private property. There are also two museums in El Romeral that you can visit if you want to know its history in depth.
The windmills in this village are in the best condition in Spain. We count 12 in very good condition. At the time of construction there were actually thirteen, perched on the Cerro Calderico, from which impacts the extensive vision you can get to have. After the tour of the windmills in Consuegra you will find the Castillo de la Muela, an old fortress from the 10th century of Muslim construction (the best preserved in Toledo). The names of the twelve “giants” you’ll find here are: Bolero (headquarters of the tourist office) Sancho, Rucio (museum of milling), Espartero, Mochilas (these in operation), Mambrino, Vista Alegre, Cardeño, Alcancía, Chispas, Caballero del Verde Gaban (gastromolino) and Clavileño.
Located in Ciudad Real, it has 7 mills. The first to be built dates from 1790, at which time eleven were built. They arose from the need to supply the town with water reducing costs, previously this came by means of “La Copa” to the “Fuente del Caño”, both modern monuments that you can visit. The names of the mills are: El Ama, La Sobrina, Dulcinea, Maritones, La Dueña Dolorida, La Duquesa and Teresa Panza. The last four have been restored from this list.
Alcázar de San Juan
Located on Cerro San Antón, you will be able to see 4 of the 19 original mills adding another two water mills. Their names: Rocinante, Barataria, Fierabrás and Barcelona. Two of these mills have been used as a museum, one as a Centre of Interpretation of the Manchego Landscape and another is the headquarters of the reconstruction of a grinding machinery of the XVI century. In the latter, grindings are carried out on dated occasions. The hill of San Antón also has the Cueva del Polvorín (used to store gunpowder) and the Canteras (Quarries), mines reused to hold shows.
Campo de Criptana
On the Sierra de los Molinos you will find 10, 3 of them date from the XVI century. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, it is precisely these that inspired Cervantes to write chapter eight of the first part of Don Quixote. Currently only Burleta, Infante and Sardinero are preserved. The renovated ones that already belong to the 20th century are Culebro, Poyatos, Inca Garcilaso, Quimera, Pilón and Lagarto. The guided visit to the interior of the mills costs 3 euros.
Mota del Cuervo
Last place on the road! Located in the province of Cuenca and known for its extensive plain, the hill on which the mills lie is called the Balcony of La Mancha. Only 7 of the 23 that were still standing, thanks to the Association of Friends of the Mills. They are El Gigante, El zurdo (their blades turn in the opposite direction to the others.) Cervantes, Piqueras, Goethe, Irak and Franz Grillparzer.
Although we said that we had already finished with the tour, we want to add one more stop. Even though there is no mill here, this is a crucial element of the route. This is where Dulcinea, Don Quixote’s beloved, lived. Her real name was Ana Martínez Zarco de Morales, a farmer from Toboso. His house is now a museum that preserves the furniture and objects intact. The general ticket costs 3 euros and is free for children under 16, pensioners, the unemployed and people with disabilities. We also recommend that you visit the Museo Cervantino which has several editions of the book in several languages and with important signatures. A literary route you can’t miss.