Discover the places the author depicted in Don Quixote
Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world’s most renowned novelists. His most famous work is The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha, more commonly shortened to Don Quixote. Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, the story follows the adventures of a nobleman called Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances he loses his mind and sets out to revive chivalry, undo wrongs and bring justice to the world under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. The two parted-novel has been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible.
Many places depicted in the novel are based on real locations and either presented as they are or stretched by the imagination of Don Quixote. In the first part of the book, he ignores reality and prefers to live out his own knightly story. With the help of Street View, we take a tour of the Spain Cervantes wrote about in his novel, as well as some of the places that inspired the author along the way.
1. Alcalá de Henares
Alcalá de Henares is a city in central Spain, northeast of Madrid and is also the birthplace of Cervantes. The city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stands out for its rich archaeology. Born in 1547, Cervantes was baptized at the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor. If you pay a visit to the church, you'll see the square in front the building has been renamed Plaza Cervantes (below).
2. Cerro Calderico Windmills
On the way into the small town of Consuegra, in the middle of the wide, arid plain of La Mancha, visitors will spot the 12 windmills and castle of Cerro Calderico. The site was made famous by Don Quixote who called the windmills “giants” and then proceeded to take them on in an imaginary battle. This portion of the book is where the popular phrase “tilting at windmills” comes from and refers to attacking imaginary or real enemies, usually for misguided or pointless reasons. Visitors can still take a trip to the windmills, but be sure to park up at the top to save yourself a walk up the hill.
3. Casa-Cueva de Medrano
In Argamasilla de Alba, you will find Medrano's house and you’ll also find Medrano Cave underneath the house. It is said Cervantes was held prisoner here. Though it’s hard to find out exactly why he was imprisoned, Cervantes did suffer bankruptcy and was put in prison at least twice in his life for irregularities in his accounts. Legend has it Cervantes began writing the adventures of Don Quixote in this basement cave. He refers to this time briefly in the prologue of the book where he states the book was “engendered in a jail”.
4. El Toboso
El Toboso is a town and municipality located in the Mancha Alta de Toledo comarca, province of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, central Spain. El Toboso appears in the novel as the town in which the fictional character Dulcinea lives. Dulcinea is an unseen character in the novel and Don Quixote's love interest. He describes her as: “Her name is Dulcinea, her country El Toboso, a village of La Mancha, her rank must be at least that of a princess, since she is my queen and lady, and her beauty superhuman.” The town itself contains a catholic church built in the 15th century, the Cervantine Museum and the Museum of Dulcinea.
5. Cave of Montesinos
Cueva de Montesinos is a cave of the Province of Albacete, Spain. At the bottom of the cave is a small lake formed by rainwater filtering through the cave. It has been discovered through a series of experiments and tests that the water in that lagoon is connected by underground streams with the natural park of Ruidera. The cave appears in Don Quixote when the title character and his squire Sancho Panzo leave for the cave with the town barber Basilio’s cousin as a guide. When the three arrive at the cave, Sancho and the guide lower Don Quixote into the cave by a rope. They wait for half an hour and then pull him up, only to find him asleep. Below is the entrance to the cave.
6. Villanueva de los Infantes
At the beginning of the book, Cervantes writes: “In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing.”
There has been much debate over which village the narrator is actually referring to but the overall consensus has landed on Villanueva de los Infantes. The picturesque village is in the southeast of the province of Ciudad Real. Visitors can try to find the house of Don Diego de Miranda, who according to tradition was the Knight of the Green Overcoat, whose great deeds were mentioned many times by Don Quixote.