The Dangerous Land of Noone: El Camino del Cid

Welcome to El Camino del Cid, an exciting journey through the Middle Ages following the footprint of the great knight El Cid, of whom we bring you a brief overview.

Atienza, Guadalajara and Medinaceli were, until the beginning of the 11th century, enclaves of great military importance for the Muslims. There were in charge of defending the frontier and providing protection of their people against the Christians knights. Between the years 1085 and 1104 they succumbed to the Castilian offensive but never lost their border character, becoming scenarios of conflict between two neighboring Christian Kingdoms: Aragon and Castile. Proof of this conflictive past are the numerous castles, fortresses and watchtowers from Muslim and Christian origin. To make our cultural tourist itinerary, we will follow the plot of the Cantar del Mío Cid, written up at the beginning of the 13th century, one hundred years after the death of Rodrigo Díaz (called El Cid). He became famous when he was exiled in 1086 by Alfonso VI and who later died in 1099 as Prince of Valencia.

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El Cid was a very famous knight expelled ─with all his troops─ from Castile by his King. On the ninth day of his exile, he crossed the border between the Christian kingdom and the Muslim kingdom of Toledo during the middle of the night. After evading the fortress of Atienza, the exiles in urgent need of food took over a fortified town called as Castejón de Henares or Jadraque (do not forget to try in either town their lamb roasts). At this point, we recommend you visit the Barranco del Rio Dulce Natural Park, a rocky gorge of magnificent beauty that begins in the tiny village of Aragosa, crosses Cabrera and ends in Peregrina. There you will find the Peregrina castle (built in the 12th century). Situated in a spectacular place, the village was once an important trading post under the protection of the castle. It preserves the medieval structure of its streets and the small Romanesque church.

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At the same time the lieutenant of the Cid ─Alvar Fañez─ went with 200 knights to plunder the Valley of Henares passing through the fortresses of Hita and Guadalajara. From Castejón the warriors crossed inhospitable territories into the Valley of Jalón. The Muslim towns dedicated to agriculture were forced to feed the troops of El Cid. They passed through the fortified Medinaceli. On the sixteenth day, El Cid camped in front of the walls of Alcocer, very close to Ateca; it took them three months to conquer it. At full speed, a Muslim army arrived from Valencia to confront El Cid; being defeated in a very bloody battle, narrated by el Cantar. The muslims were persecuted until Terrer and Calatayud ─good place to eat ternasco (suckling lamb) or some lovely chickpeas with conger─. With this victory the Cid increased his fame and wealth to continue his travel to Valencia.

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