Route of the Castles of southern Toledo
The Route of the Castles of the southern part of the province of Toledo takes us from charming hotel Villa Nazules to the towns of Almonacid de Toledo, Mascarque, Mora, Manzaneque, Orgaz and Yebenes.
What to see:
Circular Route: Villa Nazules - Almonacid de Toledo - Mascarque - Mora - Manzaneque - Orgaz - Yebenes - Villa Nazules
The Route of the Castles of South Toledo helps us to reconnect with the past of this region. Kingdoms disputed borders between Moors and Christians for much of the "Reconquista" (the Christian conquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslims), successive battles, invasions, conquests and re-conquests of these regions contested by both armies have left us impressive forts, watchtowers, castles or surveillance towers, whose stony skeletons not only give an idea both of its past, but also of the apparent lack of interest in our cultural heritage.
What to do:
Almonacid de Toledo
Leave Villa Nazules heading towards Almonacid de Toledo. The fort stands on top of the hill.
The first historical reference dates back to 848 as Arab fortress. Later it passed into the hands of King Alfonso VI as part of the dowry of Princess Zaida.
There are still reservoirs in good condition and remains of its colossal towers and inner walls.
After visiting the castle of Almonacid, we continue the route towards Mascaraque.
Upon getting to the old part of the town you'll see the today privately owned castle which is in perfect condition. Well worth a visit are the surrounding gardens.
The castle dates from the 14th century and belongs to the Padilla family, although it is unclear if the Padillas of the famous commoner or those of a neighbour of a village of the same name. It was built as a link between the castles of Almonacid and Mora, both much larger and stronger than the on in Mascaraque.
Continue the route to the town of Mora de Toledo.
Mora de Toledo
The location of the Castillo de Peñas Negras castle is absolutely superb: The walls of the fortress seem to have been grown as a natural extension of the steep rocks on which it sits, on top of the so-called Sierra del Castillo (mountains of the castle), a viewpoint offering stunning views both of the La Mancha plain and the foothills of the Toledo mountains.
It was built in the 12th century by order of King Alfonso VII, serving as fortress impossible to be taken by assault during the battles between the Toledo militia led by Munio Alfonso against the Almoravids.
From Mora continue towards Orgaz.
The Castle of the Counts of Orgaz is a conditioned and privately owned building in good condition. It is a medieval fortress built in the 14th century by order of Don Perez Guzman, Count of Orgaz, upon another building of the 12th century. It was renovated in the 15nth century.
If you have enough time, we recommend to visit the hamlet of Arisgotas with its Church of Our Lady de la Asunción and the Museum of Visigothic Art.
Nearby there is also the archaeological site of Los Hitos, an ancient Visigoth settlement. As a result of the excavations carried out in the 70s by archaeologist Balmaseda Muncharaz, and despite of the vegetation and the deterioration of the profiles, the nave of the small church is still easily distinguishable. According to the excavator it dates from the 7th century AD, and could be part of a large Visigoth monastery. You can also see various graves of the type known as "cists" based on slabs of slate, which have lost the cover. Noteworthy the sarcophagus carved from a single block of marble.
Continue the route heading to Manzaneque on a sandy track in good condition. However if its raining we recommend the normal road, even if its a detour.
The castle of Manzaneque was built in the 15th century by order of Don Iñigo de Ávalos. Later it became property of Don Alvarez de Toledo, secretary of the Catholic Kings, and of the Earls of Cedillo, who eventually abandoned the castle. Today the building houses the local council.
After visiting Manzaneque head towards Yébenes and the recreation area "The Rinconcillo", located at the foot of Castle of Las Guadalerzas.
Los Yébenes: The Christian Castle
Park your car at the recreation area, cross the fence and walk up the hill to the castle. You'll like this short walk through green pastures on the banks of the Bracea river and a beautiful Mediterranean forest.
The castle is named Christian Castle because the original site was Arabic, located in lower areas along the river and less favorable to the defense. Hence after its conquest the Christians decided to move the site to its current position. King Alfonso VI donated the site to the military orders which were present in the area so they could use it as an hospital. During the 15th and 16th centuries the castle underwent some modifications and the cylindrical towers were built at the corners. King Philip II turned it into a school for noble maidens. Even today it still preserves almost intact its battlements.
From here you could drive on visiting more castles in the province of Toledo, such as the one of Consuegra, but maybe it's enough for one day and you would like to head back to Villa Nazules, relaxing in its SPA and/or other facilities.