The region between Madrid and Andalusia is a sparsely-populated, treeless wasteland. Castilla-La Mancha, which is sometimes referred to as New Castile, is about the size of the Czech Republic, but has less than 2 million inhabitants. Due to the low precipitation levels, the land here was rarely put to use in the past, but grain and chickpeas have been grown here since the introduction of dams and irrigation systems. Large areas are also used to grow eucalyptus. As a result of its high elevation, the region has a continental climate with hot summers. Winter is particularly unpleasant on these wind-swept heights. This remote plateau became famous thanks to the novel “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” written by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605.
Bavarian flair in southern Castile
This city located east of Ciudad Real ("the king's city) has a delightful market square (Plaza Mayor) with green-shuttered buildings, which are more reminiscent of Bavaria than of Spain. They do, in fact, date back to the heyday of the Fugger family, which had a great deal of influence in the city. This merchant family from Augsburg used to bankroll Charles V and lease the nearby quicksilver mines. In the past, people would watch bullfights from the balconies lining the market square. The city is a great base for exploring the southern Castilian region of La Mancha, the home of Don Quijote.
The Windmill battle of Don Quixote took place in Consuegra. Twelve windmills dating back to the 16th century are still preserved. These may also be viewed from the inside. In some the old grinding mechanism can be seen, others host art and craft exhibitions.