Monday, July 5, 2010

The Windmills of Consuegra

June 29 - Consuegra and on to Madrid

On leaving Toledo, we decided to double-back a few miles to the small town of Consuegra because we wanted to inspect the classic La Mancha windmills up close.

Winding through these hills one can really imagine Don Quixote riding past these windmills (here they’re called molinos de viento). We stopped at a tourist office housed in one of the mills. The two men working there were among the friendliest and most helpful people met at tourist offices in Spain. They told us all about the history of the windmills and even of the origin of the word Califonia. According to them, it came a Cervantes novel that described a place that he called California. To the Spanish, the far western part of the U.S. turned out to be very similar to the description by Cervantez, so the Spanish ended up calling what they saw California.

Getting back to the windmills in Consuegra, there was a medieval castle that sat atop of the hill where all the windmills were situated. We toured the small castle, which offered great panoramic views of the area. As we entered the castle, we could see that the perimeter walls were five meters thick! The castle itself was in the process of being restored but still offered unique insights on how the knights lived back in the 12th and 13th century. As in so many of these places we‘ve seen, again, it was the destructive Napoleonic forces that unleashed all the damage done to these old buildings.

In the end, we were glad we had made the effort to come to see where Don Quixote had ridden.

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