Guadalajara is a city with a thousand corners oozing with history.
Researchers have traced its origins to a site near the Iberian city of Arriaca, meaning “river of stones”, which would later become Roman. Even so, we cannot speak of an important settlement until the al-Andalus (Moorish) era. By the 8th century we know that there was a bridge spanning the Henares River, a mosque, and the Alcázar, or fortress. The Arab reign lasted for almost four centuries, until at the end of the 11th century the enclave came under the control of Castile and its king, Alfonso VI.
The conquest of Guadalajara formed part of the process to conquer the taifa (principality) of Toledo, and legends have it that Alvar Fáñez de Minaya, one of El Cid’s lieutenants, led the Castilian troops in the spring of 1085, taking the city.
Victory at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, in 1212, definitively pushed the border southwards. In Guadalajara, on the site of the previous mosque, the construction of a mudéjar church, which we now know as the Concatedral de Santa María, began.
Later, in the second half of the fourteenth century, the Mendoza family settled in Guadalajara, boasting prominent figures such as Íñigo López de Mendoza, Marqués de Santillana, and the Cardenal Pedro González de Mendoza.
Guadalajara shone so brightly that the beautiful Palacio del Infantado was built here, in the Gothic-Elizabethan style, with Renaissance elements, going on to host two of the most notable royal weddings of the Modern Age: that of Felipe Segundo (Philip II) and Isabel de Valois, in 1559; and that of Felipe Quinto (Philip V) and Isabel de Farnesio, in 1714.
Other emblematic buildings in the city include the Palacio de la Cotilla, dating from the 17th century, which features a Chinese tea room; and the Pantheon of the Duchess of Sevillano, a funerary monument built in 1916 and covered by a beautiful dome of glazed pottery, and adorned with beautiful ornamentation.
The city was not immune to the conflicts that plagued Spain: the War of Succession, the War of Independence against the French, and, of course, the Civil War, during which Guadalajara suffered great damage.
But the city managed to recover and take advantage of its proximity to the Madrid metropolitan area and the urban and industrial expansion of the Henares Corridor. But let us not forget that Guadalajara is much more; it is also a province forming an integral part of Castilla-La Mancha, and full of emblematic towns, such as Cogolludo, with the Renaissance Palacio de Medinaceli; Atienza, with its castle in the upper quarter of the town, offering sweeping views of the entire region; and Sigüenza, protected by its walls and featuring the famed young nobleman’s tomb in its cathedral, its castle housing a well-known parador. Brihuega beckons you to discover its enormous cultural heritage, even as it enhances its landscape to attract revenue and retain its local population. And Pastrana, down whose streets walked two illustrious contemporaries: The Princess of Eboli, and Saint Teresa of Jesus; and that was once home to Christians, Jews and Muslims.
In short, Guadalajara is a land for leisurely walks and discovering its enormous heritage, left by a whole mix of cultures.