Journey to the Alcarria: Stage 2

The stretch between Torija and Brihuega on a journey that combines literature and life.

By Diputación Provincial de Guadalajara

Diputación Provincial de Guadalajara

“Journey to the Alcarria. Text for the second leg” (1948) by Camilo José CelaDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

This eloquent passage is from the second stage of the book "Journey to the Alcarria," in a project that combines the themes of literature and life.

"The next day, when the traveler is already on the road, he thinks of the days that are no more; he closes his eyes for a moment to feel the beat of his heart."

Map for the second leg: Torija - Brihuega (2016) by Fernando Toquero y Laura DomínguezDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

The second stage of the Journey to the Alcarria runs from Torija to Brihuega, covering a total of 11.2 miles on foot.

Breakfast in Torija (2017) by Laura DominguezDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

For the second stage—Torija to Brihuega—we'll need an early, hearty breakfast. But don't worry, there's no rush. Relax, free your mind, and enjoy the journey. Enjoy yourself, the walk, and the journey…

Dawn in Torija (2017) by Laura DomínguezDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

For a few moments of the day, the sky is filled with pure, ephemeral colors. As we walk, we will see how the sun rises from the horizon, and how the colors change with every step.

The Alcarria countryside: freedom and calm (2017) by Laura DomínguezDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

Our walk continues, and there will always be something to enjoy, admire, and remember on either side of the road.

The Alcarria countryside: scent and feeling (2017) by Laura DomínguezDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

Our travel companions on the road to Brihuega will be a lark, a magpie, a corn bunting, a stock dove, a few hares, and some partridges

Camilo Jose Cela’s black pine (2017) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

In "Journey to the Alcarria," the traveler writes, "A tall, slim Japanese pine rises out of the brambles; it has a graceful and aristocratic air and seems like an old ruined nobleman, formerly proud but today the debtor of those who used to serve him."

This tree, located in the old Palace of Don Luis, is actually a Lebanon cedar. It is still tall and slender, with presence, grace, and majesty.

Ungria river valley (2017) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

The writer Francisco García Marquina paints this simple picture of the valley of the Ungría River: "A pleasant, beautiful, and deep valley with intense shadows and a fast, meandering river called the Ungría, which is not very deep."

View from Fuentes de la Alcarria (2017) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

Fuentes de la Alcarria sits on a narrow strip of land in the Alcarrian moorland, surrounded by 2 deep valleys formed by the Ungría River and a tributary gully.

Along the town's main street are several large houses, some of which belonged to the aristocracy. There is also the 16th-century Church of San Agustín, as well as the remains of the walls that surrounded the town, and the fortified entrance on the western side.

Exit road from Fuentes de la Alcarria to Brihuega (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

At the eastern end of the town is the sign showing the way down to the valley and on to Brihuega.

Lavender fields (2018) by Enrique DelgadoDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

At the beginning of summer, the fields surrounding Brihuega erupt with colors, contrasts, and scents in an explosion of sensations.

Going down to Brihuega via the Fuente Cagá path (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

Reaching the destination at the end of the second stage on the Journey to the Alcarria is just as Camilo José Cela described it: "From the path, Brihuega has a very fine appearance, with its walls and its old cloth-factory as big and round as a bullring.Behind the town flows the river Tajuña, with its leafy banks and its green meadows. Brihuega has a bluish-gray color almost like that of cigar smoke. It has the look of an old city, with a great many stone buildings, well-constructed houses, and big stout trees. The scenery has changed all of a sudden, as though someone had thrown back a curtain."

Brihuega walls (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

The town of Brihuega had a wall running all the way around it. Today, the town is enormous, stretching almost 1.2 miles, and it is possible to walk right around it. But the best place to see Brihuega's walls is from the northwestern side where, despite having been restored and some of the battlements reconstructed, you can really get a sense of what they looked like when they were first built.

Twelve-pipe fountain (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

The Fuente de los Doce Caños (the Fountain of 12 Spouts) is also known as the Fuente Blanquina. This is Brihuega's largest fountain and one of its hallmarks, which also supplies water to the town's laundry.

It has a total of 24 spouts: 12 at the front, with the other 12 supplying the laundry, which consists of 3 large, rectangular basins. The first is for soaping the clothes, the next for rinsing them, and the last, smaller one is for washing up cooking pots.

San Felipe church (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

Strolling around Brihuega, we come to the Church of San Felipe, built in the 13th century. The portal on the western wall is particularly striking. Built in the transitional Romanesque style, it is framed between 2 impressive buttresses and crowned with 3 rose windows.

Inside, it has 3 naves. The central nave is the highest, and they are each separated by 5 arches, supported by slender columns with remarkable floral capitals. The presbytery is rectangular and the apse is semi-circular, covered by a dome of 4 spheres. It has 2 fonts containing holy water, one of which is extremely old and the other made in a classical style. It also has an impressive baptismal font.

The portal features 3 magnificent rose windows with circular, 6-pointed stars.

It has an octagonal bell-tower, which is not completely attached to the church since it was built into one of the towers of the old wall.

The entrance arch features the shield of Archbishop Ximénez de Rada.

Gardens of the royal textile factory (2018) by Alfonso RomoDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

We come to one of Brihuega's jewels: the Versailles-esque garden of the Royal Factory. With flowerbeds and cypress trees, the garden is adorned with lamps, viewing points, arbors, and fountains. The buildings used for administration and accommodation by the staff who manage the gardens are one of the town's dominating features.

Camilo José Cela described it with these profound words: "The garden of the factory is a romantic garden, a garden to die in when one is very young, of love or desperation, of consumption and nostalgia."

Cheese with honey (2018) by Laura DomínguezDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

A stop along the way for a bite of cheese—whether soft, semi-cured, or cured, it's the perfect accompaniment to Alcarrian honey.

Santa Maria de la Peña church (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

The church of Santa María de la Peña is next to Piedra Bermeja Castle. It is in one of the most romantic-looking locations in the entire town, surrounded by leafy trees in an unforgettably historic, natural environment. Built in the early 13th century, the church has 3 naves, each with 3 sections.

It is a perfect example of Cistercian architecture during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic, with a style that combines purity and renewal. Inside is a picture of the town's patron saint: the Virgin of La Peña.

Tajuña valley (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

From the viewing point at the square next to the church of Santa María de la Peña, you can see the beautiful fertile plain that is nurtured by the Tajuña River, giving us a sneak preview of the next stage.

A visit to the fascinating Museum of Miniatures in the same square is highly recommended.

Brihuega cemetery (2018) by Fernando ToqueroDiputación Provincial de Guadalajara

Brihuega's cemetery is located inside the castle. This is the town's oldest building, dating back to the Caliphate period. It was built between the 9th and 11th centuries.

Credits: Story

Coordinators: Aurora Batanero, Mario G. Somoano, and Marcelino Ayuso (Department of Press and Tourism, Guadalajara Provincial Council)

Project producer: Guadalajara Provincial Council

Texts: Laura Domínguez and Fernando Toquero
Photography: Alfonso Romo, Enrique Delgado, Laura Domínguez, and Fernando Toquero

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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