Migas Manchegas, a dish typical of the region
Castile-La Mancha or Castilla La Mancha is a region of central Spain where the fictional Don Quixote fought imaginary windmills. Those windmills can still be seen today, as part of the traditional Manchegan landscape.
Besides the well-known UNESCO heritage capital Toledo, La Mancha has plenty of gems hidden even for those living nearby, due to the predominance of traditional rural activities in large areas and low population density.
As many other regions in Spain, Castile-La Mancha is divided into provinces, each having the same name than the capital city within.
- Toledo, capital of Castile-La Mancha and a city with a huge historical heritage
- Albacete, biggest city on the region, but mostly directed to the industry. Overlooked by many, except for the Fair in September and as a base to explore the province.
- Almagro, probably known for its Corral de las Comedias (Comedy Theatre), active since the 16th century.
- Almansa, where stays one of the best recognized castles of Castile-La Mancha.
- Ciudad Real, modest city between two national parks and the route of Don Quixote.
- Cuenca, historic walled town included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- Guadalajara, mostly industrial, serves nowadays as a commuter town for Madrid.
- Sigüenza, the real treasure of the province of Guadalajara thanks to its medieval castle (today also a Parador) and the Gothic Cathedral.
- Cabañeros National Park, between Ciudad Real and Toledo. Destined to become a firing range for the army, the pressure from the ecologist groups finally managed to convert it into a protected area, only accesible through guided tours in 4x4. The scenery remembers to the savannah, with deers being the most prevailling animals.
- Tablas de Daimiel National Park, located in Ciudad Real. One of the last floodplain wetlands in the otherway arid center of the Iberian Peninsula.
- The Route of Don Quixote has a predominant presence in La Mancha, with towns like Campo de Criptana, Consuegra or Mota del Cuervo well-known for their windmills.
Castile-La Mancha mainly covers a large area of high plateu, known as La Mancha. The land is arid and scarcely populated, being the transhumance of the flocks of sheeps a typical image of the region. More recently, it has adopted a growing dynamic in rural tourism. The isolation of the towns has also served to develop a significant number of products with a protected geographical label of quality, like the Manchego Cheese.
The fame and popularity of Castile-La Mancha is undoubtedly linked to the publication of the novel of Don Quixote of La Mancha. Most events and towns described in the two books, such as the windmills or El Toboso, hometown of his beloved Dulcinea, are here, with few changes after 500 years.
Predictably, Spanish or Castilian is the main language of the region. The local dialects use localisms from the neighboring regions of Murcia, Valencia and Aragon.