How about following in the footsteps of a famous Spanish 11th century medieval knight who was in exile and making his way from the northwest of Spain to the southeast? How cool is that? You can do all of it or just a portion of it, depending on your time and what you want to see. This cultural, tourist route encompasses large, vast natural areas, 387 historical and quaint villages and eight World Heritage sites. The Way of El Cid is divided into various routes 50-300 kilometers entire route is 1400 kilometers of tracks and 2000 kilometers of roads. It is so diverse. By doing the El Cid Way, even part of it, you will see and experience Spain in a very different way.
To explain how it came about, you need to know exactly who El Cid was. El Cid was a famous 11th century medieval knight who was actually Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador. Having been exiled, he began on a journey across Spain fighting the Moors and the Christians. The journey recreates a famous poem, The Poem of the Cid and his legend is kept alive by visitors traversing his route, visiting places that still have medieval charm.
If you decide to travel the entire route, you will visit eight World Heritage sites including:
- The Gothic Cathedral and the Way of Saint James in Burgos
- The Aragonese Mudejar (architecture with Islamic influence) in Aragón
- The Water Tribunal of the Plain and the Gothic Silk Market as well as the Festivity of La Mare de Déu de la Salut in Valencia
- Palmeral and El Misteri in Alicante, El
- In several villages you will visit, you can see the famous cave paintings of the Mediterranean Arch that was named a World Heritage Site in 1998.
The route is safe and those who have experienced it, comment afterward about the friendly villagers and people they met along the way, During the Middle Ages the Way of El Cid was mostly borderland with little, if any population. Things surprisingly are still the same with almost half of the villages along the route encompassing fewer than 100 people. They are welcoming, friendly and you will feel safe on your journey.
You will also visit several castles and lookout towers that served El Cid as strategic locations for defense and so that he could watch out over the mountain passes and valleys. Some of these locations are the original ruins and some have been refurbished.
Certainly, on this trip, you will want to try traditional Spanish dishes and even possibly participate in many of the festivals that are held along the El Cid Way. There are 20 festivals with 9 focused on El Cid himself.
Doesn’t this sound fun? I think it would be an awesome way to experience Spain, its culture, people, cuisine and historical sites. So, when planning a trip or arranging group travel, please consider doing a part of the El Cid Way, if not all of it.