Guadalajara information

Introduction to the Province of Guadalajara
The mountainous province of Guadalajara, to the north east of Madrid in Castilla La Mancha may not be at the top of everyone’s list of places to visit in Spain but this relatively unknown place does have some attractions and parks that are worth checking out and its proximity to Madrid also makes it an ideal place to stay to take advantage of the capital’s heady delights but without paying Madrid prices.

Guadalajara City
The capital of the province, Guadalajara city, built on the River Henares, has had a rough time of it in recent history. During the Peninsular War the city was taken by the French in 1808 and was pretty much razed to the ground. Having only just recovered from this affront, it suffered further during the Spanish Civil War, when in March 1937 it was the site for the infamous Battle of Guadalajara, in which thousands of troops on both sides were killed or wounded. As a result of these assaults, many of the city’s buildings were destroyed and so much of what can be seen today has been greatly restored or even renewed altogether.

Guadalajara has no cathedral of its own (the province’s main cathedral is located in the town of Siguenza) but it does have what is known as a co-cathedral, the Church of Santa Maria La Mayor, which was originally built in the 15th Century on the site of a previous Mudejar mosque and then remodelled in the 17th Century. The pretty chapel, the Capilla de Luis de Lucena, with its frescoed interior, is also to be found near here.

The highlight of the city has got to be the Palacio del Infantado, with its fine Renaissance façade. It was begun in the 15th Century and has been many times restored since then. It served as the home of the Duke of Mendoza and now houses the provincial museums, library and records office.

The city’s main park is the Parque de San Roque, which is so well stocked as to be virtually a botanic garden and it is here that you will find the Panteon de la Duquesa de Sevillano (also known as the Panteon de la Condesa de la Vega del Pozo).

Two other churches worth visiting are the Baroque Iglesia de San Nicolas el Real and the 16th Century Iglesia de San Gines.

Around Guadalajara City and Beyond
The town of Siguenza, in the north east of the province, has the cathedral that Guadalajara city lacks. Set atop a hill, the massive 12th Century Gothic Cathedral of Siguenza dominates the town. Its interior is well worth exploring and contains some fine alabaster and marble ecclesiastical pieces of artwork.

The southern half of the province is known as the Alcarria and the main town of this wild but lovely area, after Guadalajara itself, is Pastrana, whose vast church in the middle of its rambling streets should be most certainly be visited to admire its rich 15th Century tapestries. The charming town of Brihuega is also worth checking out, as is Jadraque for its huge mediaeval castle.

Atienza is a stunning mediaeval town with a beautiful church and equally attractive main square and which is famed for its annual “Fiesta de la Caballada” which has been celebrated since 1162. Taking place at Pentecost (May time), the fiesta is a costumed, horseback pilgrimage also involving traditional music, food, races and general merrymaking.

Guadalajara has some fantastic natural parks: the Hayedo de Tejera Negra Natural Park in the north east of the province is home to a huge beech forest and numerous birds of prey; the Alto Tajo Natural Park in the south west of the province is a stunningly wild landscape of eroded rock features and is superb for exploring by mountain bike; the Barranco del Rio Natural Park in the north of the province is home to many species of protected wildlife.

The Gastronomy of Guadalajara
The cuisine of Guadalajara is a rich one, with lamb, usually served roasted (Cordero Asado), featuring heavily on its menus. Morcilla de Arroz is another speciality, a type of black pudding made with rice. Patatas con Conejo is a fried but stew-like dish of potatoes with rabbit, green peppers, onions and mushrooms. From its rivers come trout and crayfish. A typical Guadalajaran dessert is Bizcochos Borrachos, cinnamon flavoured cake liberally soaked with wine, brandy and orange juice.

Don’t miss the famous honey that comes from La Alcarria nor the wines from Mondejar.


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