Are you in the process of planning a holiday or romantic excursion to the Toledo region of Spain? Need some ideas regarding what to do and see during your visit? A stay in the beautiful city of Toledo promises plenty of fun and a number of interesting sites to see, including medieval castles, historic architecture and stunning landscapes as far as the eye can see. In addition, there are a number of villages and towns located very close to the city that make for a great day trip and a very fascinating adventure. One of these towns is Consuegra, a municipality located in the province of Toledo and one of many towns that belong to the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha.
The town of Consuegra has an area of roughly 138 square miles (358 square kilometers) and a population of roughly 11,000 inhabitants. It is situated between the two cities of Ciudad Real and Toledo, and its principal economic sector is agriculture—an industry that within Consuegra is dominated by the production of textiles and wood. The main sights and most important monuments in Consuegra, which we will describe in more detail below, are the windmills and the castle.
Most Spanish windmills, like those described beautifully in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, can be found in the community of Castile-La Mancha in central Spain, and the best examples of restored Spanish windmills can be found in Consuegra, where windmills spike the hill just outside of the town limits, giving tourists a one-of-a-kind view of the 12th century castle and of the town. The castle was once a stronghold when Consuegra was the seat and priory of the Knights of San Juan, the Spanish branch of the Knights of Hospitallers of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Main Sights in Consuegra
Since the 16th century, when Don Quixote was first published, the town of Consuegra has been famous for its windmills. The windmills were originally brought to the town by the Caballeros Sanjuanistas to help the millers. These machines used the wind to grind grain, particularly wheat, and were transferred from generation to generation, from father to son. They typically consisted of two rooms or levels. Millers had to carry sacks of grain, often weighing 60 to 70 kilos, to the top floor, and, using a piece of wood for leverage, rotate the sails of the windmill’s moveable dome to grind the grain. Interestingly, all of the windmills in Consuegra, which were in use until the early 1980s, have names to differentiate them; names that include La Zorra, La Tuerta, Mochilas, Panza, Bolero and Santo Domingo, among many others. Today there are 12 windmills to explore on the hill just outside of the city.
Castle of Consuegra
The Castle of Consuegra is the other main sight of the city. It was originally built as a fortress during the 10th century by the Muslim emperor Almanzor, and rebuilt during the reign of Alfonso VIII in the 12th century. In 1813 it was destroyed during the Peninsular War.
In 1962, the Castle of Consuegra was ceded to the town hall and underwent major renovations that lasted for years. These efforts were bolstered in 1985 with the creation of the School Workshop, a group that, to some extent, continues to work on the castle today.
Town Hall and Activities
The town hall of Consuegra is located in the city’s main square known as Plaza de Espana, the major gathering place for residents during festivals and celebrations. The town hall was built in the 16th century in the Renaissance style, very near to another building called Los Corredores, a typical structure of the La Mancha community that previously served as the town hall.
The making of crafts is a major activity in Consuegra. As you walk through the city you will find a number of workshops where classically designed items are crafted, including elaborate doors and furniture for domestic use, including chairs, bedroom sets and cabinets.
Festivals and Food
There are many festivals celebrated in Consuegra, but if you happen to be in Consuegra during the last weekend in October you will find yourself smack dab in the middle of the most popular celebration, the Rose of Saffron festival. This festival began in 1963 and includes activities such as choosing a Dulcinea, a type of beauty competition among young girls inspired by Cervantes’ Don Quixote; and a food competition.
The cuisine in Consuegra is very similar to that of Toledo, and includes dishes such as migas, small pieces of bread mixed with chorizo, bacon and ham; and gachas, snacks made of flour, chorizo and other local ingredients.