The Parador of Alarcon is located about 200 km. southeast of Madrid directly below Cuenca. Twelve hundred years ago, a prince of the Visigoths was out hunting and came upon a rugged and rocky hill almost completely encircled by a river. He thought it a perfect place to build a fortress. His father, King Alaric, came back to inspect the site and did build a castle there. The town and the Parador still bear his name.
The Alarcon Parador has thick stone walls set with turrets surrounding it and the small town. One of these towers (called a coracha) is right down on the river Jucar. It was from under this one that the ancient townspeople could obtain water during a siege.
The castle was controlled by the Moors for hundreds of years. In 1184, after a long unsuccessful siege, a brave knight climbed the walls one night by using two daggers to wedge into the slits in the great stones that form the walls. He got over and opened the doors from within allowing King Alfonso VIII and his forces in to recapture the castle for the Christian re-conquest. Many years later, Queen Isabel had to put down a rebellion of sorts here by some of her powerful yet disloyal barons.
The Parador of Alarcon is the kind of place castle lovers dream of. It looks and feels like a castle, and one can literally sense the history of the place as a palpable presence. It's setting is spectacular, and the approach is unforgettable - transporting the traveler not only to the castle, but seemingly back in time as well!
Interesting nearby excursions from Parador Alarcon:
- The medieval old town of Alarcon.
- The wonderful Iglesia de Santa Maria.
- The old town hall on the main plaza.
Interesting day trips include:
- Cuenca - The city of the famous “casas colgadas" (hanging houses). Cuenca is a Unesco-declared World Heritage site, and should be considered a “must see. "
- Belmonte - Be sure and drive over to Belmonte to see the wonderful old, abandoned, yet well-preserved 15th century castle ruins there. You can climb up into the towers and walk around inside the grounds. The Belmonte castle has a rare and beautiful triangular patio. If you go on a weekday - you'll likely have it all to yourself.
For travelers who like to visit relatively un-touristed locations that, nevertheless, exude an air of historical significance - and especially for aficionados of wonderful old castles - the Alarcon Parador is a near-perfect destination.
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