In the age of knights and castles when Christians and Muslims fought over the land we now know as Spain, one figure still stands out above the rest: the skilled military commander known as El Cid. Castilian nobleman Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, more commonly referred to as El Cid, is considered a national hero in Spain for his prowess on the battlefield in the 11th century during the Spanish Reconquista.
After the knight's death in 1099, El Cid's place in Spanish history was forever cemented in the epic poem Cantar de mio Cid, known in English as the Poem of the Cid, which romanticized his adventures throughout the Iberian Peninsula.
Today, he continues to fascinate, and many retrace his steps across Spain. You, too, can take the well-trod Camino del Cid, or the Way of El Cid, while enjoying the trip from the comfort of Paradores luxury hotels.
A trek across Castile y León
El Cid earned his reputation fighting on behalf of both the Christian King of Castile and the Muslim rulers of Zaragoza, eventually ruling over his own independent principality with the popular support of people of both religions. Those setting out on the Way of El Cid can start from Parador Lerma, located in the famed knight's home province. A beautiful palace built over a 10th century castle, this Parador was originally built to lodge King Phillip III.
As befits such royal guests, the building features an elegant, columned central courtyard and decorations dating back to the 16th century. While here, take a stroll through Lerma itself, where El Cid no doubt frequented the iconic main square and perhaps indulged in the region's fine Arzana wine.
Next on the trek is Soria, home to the ruins of the ancient city Numantia as well as the lush Lobos River National Park. Parador Soria overlooks the city and provides panoramic views of the river Duero. Its dining room comforts travellers with traditional garlic soup; migas, which are breadcrumbs cooked with local meats; and roast lamb.
Medieval Sigueza, mudéjar Teruel and modern El Saler
Heading south, stop at Parador Sigüenza in the charming medieval town of the same name, home to sights such as its impressive cathedral. The Parador is situated in a 12th century castle and offers guests comfortable rooms with terraces and canopied beds that will help you imagine the age in which El Cid lived.
Next, follow El Cid to Parador Teruel, a mansion inspired by the city's Mudéjar style, which recalls the region's Islamic tradition. Teruel has preserved a great number of architectural features from this period, and is well known for the ancient towers that dominate its skyline.
Wrap up your journey near Valencia, where El Cid finally hung up his sword, with a relaxing stay at Parador El Saler. Here you will find a modern luxury hotel with a spa and a golf course, perhaps the best way to leave the past behind and rejoin the 21st century.
Are you interested in the Way of El Cid route? Contact Paradores today.