In this post, you will continue discovering the province of Cuenca. Then, we’ll tell you about the best things to do in Alarcón, a beautiful fortified medieval town that invites you to walk around and discover it.
Read on and discover everything you can visit in this beautiful town in the province of Cuenca, Spain.
What to See on a Visit to Alarcón
Less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Madrid is Alarcón, in the province of Cuenca. We can say without being wrong that it is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
As you get closer, you see how Alarcón stands on a rock, surrounded by the Júcar river.
Brief History of Alarcon
Alarcón has a Muslim origin; they were the ones who built the first fortress and gave it its name, which also comes from Arabic, and means “the fortress.”
Already in the Middle Ages, Alarcón belonged to the House of Villena. In those times, it was a significant town in the area, mainly due to its location and defense.
But, during the war of Castilian succession between Isabella the Catholic and Beltraneja, the people of Alarcón sided with Beltraneja, who was the loser.
Thus, Alarcón lost its position in the Kingdom but retained all its monumental wealth and art.
One of the things that surprised us in Alarcón is the tranquility and cleanliness of its streets; you don’t see a single cigarette butt.
Best Things To Do in Alarcon
You have two options: take panoramic photos when you arrive or when you leave, I prefer to take them when you arrive, but that’s how you want it.
Then you can leave the car in the town square, where the town hall and the Old Church of San Juan Bautista are located, where the Jesús Mateos mural painting art center is (a must-visit), and do the whole tour on foot.
Jesus Mateos Mural Painting Art Center
Formerly it was the Church of San Juan Bautista, a beautiful building from the 16th century that suffered neglect for centuries.
In 1994 the artist Jesús Mateo developed, for free and without support, the sketches of what we know today as the Alarcón Murals. A non-religious contemporary artwork that reminds you of the Picasso style.
It took him six years to finish, and they were sponsored by UNESCO in 1997 and declared an artistic and cultural interest. For me, a must-visit; if you can, go with a guide, much better.
Alarcón Castle – Parador de Turismo
The castle of Alarcon has a striking Torre del Homenaje, it was founded in the 8th century, it is a mix of styles, and now there is the Parador Nacional de Turismo Marqués de Villena.
It is one of the best-preserved in the region of Castilla la Mancha.
The Alarcon Castle is part of the fortifications built around the town of Alarcón in Cuenca, Spain.
The fortress comprises a walled enclosure, which houses the population center and the castle itself, and five external towers, separated and strategically located.
The castle of Arab origin was under the jurisdiction of the Emir of Córdoba.
After the Middle Ages, the Alarcón castle was abandoned and deteriorated. In 1712 it belonged to the Marquis of Aguilar, who received a report from the master builders insisting on urgent repairs to prevent its collapse.
In 1720, the castle was ruled by Alejandro de Alarcón and Duchess Julia de Alarcón, who welcomed many refugees in times of conflict in the country, making them heroes of the region.
José María Fernández de Velasco, 15th Duke of Frías, sold the castle and “four or five more turrets” to Rafael Lázaro Álvarez de Torrijos for 20,000 reales on June 5, 1863.
In 1963, the Minister of Information and Tourism, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, expropriated it from the family of Álvarez Torrijos Torres.
The castle was restored, converted into a Parador hotel, and opened to the public on March 25, 1966.
According to the Chronicle of the Wise King, in the 12th century, an authentic medieval fortress’s foundation is attributed to King Alfonso VIII. Later, during the Renaissance, it was reformed by the Infante Don Juan Manuel and, especially, the Marquis of Villena.
The castle has a square floor plan, surrounded by a double defensive enclosure, of which the Torre del Homenaje stands out, with a Renaissance appearance, with the tops of the battlements forming an arrow.
It is generally a fortification with an irregular shape of great size, joined by the same stones as the rest of the city wall and fortifications, thus constituting as a whole the base of the entire defensive system of Alarcón.
It is an important place to see in Alarcón, and I recommend you spend one night at the Parador / Castle.
We had the opportunity to visit the entire castle, including some of the rooms, and honestly, it is spectacular!
I want to sleep in this castle, go out on the terrace and be in the tower!
Church of Santa Maria
It was built in the 16th century on top of a previous Romanesque temple and is the most important temple in Alarcón.
The church of Santa María may be the most important monument in Alarcon Village, after the castle. In 1981 it was declared a National Monument.
It was built between 1520 and 1565. The plateresque-style mid-day cover stands out as one of the best covers in the entire province of Cuenca.
You will be surprised by its wide columns, the Gothic vaults, and the feeling of being in an ample space.
Pay attention to the main altarpiece from 1572, the Castañeda baptismal font and the 18th-century choir by José Martin de la Aldehuela.
Inside, the Baptismal Font, the Choir, and the Altarpiece stand out, considered one of the most important in the region from the 16th century.
Santo Domingo de Silos Auditorium
The Santo Domingo de Siloschurch is an old parish recovered in 1994. Today it is an exhibition hall and auditorium.
Not much remains of its Romanesque construction, as it has been remodeled many times over the years. But it is worth visiting it and observing the past remains that have survived to this day.
You can visit the small town of Alarcón on your own or on a guided tour with a professional guide.
During the guided tours, the entire historical complex of Alarcón, its churches, its castle, and the views from different viewpoints are visited.
The visit includes, in addition to the guide, the entrance to the contemporary art center.
*Note that Alarcon is a small town that receives mostly Spanish tourism, so if you don’t understand Spanish, guided tours maybe are not for you. Also, read this and learn some Spanish words.
The Russian Museum is a contemporary art gallery located in a part that belonged to the Palacio de Los Castañeda. Unfortunately, today only the 16th-century portal has survived.
It is called Ruso’s museum due to the Russian painter and collector Miguel Ourvantzoff. The son of a political exile who ended up in the town of Cuenca, he found refuge and inspiration here.
Plaza Del Infante Don Juan Manuel – Main Square
The Plaza del Infante Don Juan Manuel is also known as the Plaza Mayor or Main Square of Alarcon.
Here you will find the most emblematic buildings of Alarcón, and it is where the market used to be held.
This square owes its name to the Prince of Villena, Don Juan Manuel, a nobleman and writer of the fifteenth century.
The most important buildings are:
- Alarcon Town Hall
- Church of San Juan Bautista
Council Palace – Alarcón City Hall
The Council Palace is a building from the beginning of the 16th century. It is a two-story Renaissance-style building.
It currently houses the Alarcón Town Hall. On the façade, you can see the coats of arms of the family of the Marquis of Villena and three gargoyles.
The Wall of Alarcon
The Alarcón wall had five access gates to the medieval enclosure. It has three wall lines, each with its entrance and the towers that defended them.
Field Gate (Puerta del Campo)
The Puerta del Campo is the door that gets access to the first walled enclosure. In its time, it had a drawbridge; now, a road passes through it.
The Chinchilla gate is another of the gates that gave access to the walled town of Alarcón.
Nowadays, it is also known as Puerta del Picazo. It is part of the Spanish Historical Heritage.
Puerta del Bodegón
This is the door that is under the castle of Alarcón.
This gate is located in the second enclosure of the wall. It was built in times of the Infante Juan Manuel.
The River gate gave access to the Henchidero bridge north of the wall.
The gates had towers that defended them; among them are the following:
- Gun Tower
- Canavate Tower
- Alarconcillos Tower
- Dungeon Tower
Holy Trinity Church
The church of the Holy Trinity in Alarcón has a Gothic nave from the 13th century, one of the few preserved in the province of Cuenca.
Its façade, the tower, the Gothic nave, and the “Arco de la Villa” stand out, an arch that serves as a passageway from the street.
The Viewpoint of the Rock (Mirador de la Peña)
Enjoy magnificent views of Alarcon and the Júcar River from the Mirador de la Peña. It is located next to the castle – Parador de Turismo.
Where to Stay in Alarcón?
Without a doubt, at the Parador de Turismo. It’s an incredible place, and although it is a little expensive, it is undoubtedly ideal for a romantic getaway or to treat yourself!
And if you can do a bit of hiking or a horseback riding route through the Júcar river gorges, do it and tell me!
Have you already been to Alarcón? Did I miss something? Any recommendation?
Plan Your Trip to Cuenca
- What to See in Cuenca in one day
- What to see in Mota del Cuervo and Belmonte
- Visit Valencia in 3 awesome days
Last Updated on 22 September, 2023 by Veronica
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Vero, a seasoned traveler, has explored 25 countries and lived in five, gaining a rich perspective and fostering an infectious passion for travel. With a heart full of wanderlust, Vero uncovers the world’s hidden gems and shares insights, tips, and planning advice to inspire and assist fellow adventurers. Join Vero and let the shared passion for travel create unforgettable memories.