HOT Properties Magazine Archive
HOT Attractions - In the Footsteps of El Cid
This year marks the 800th anniversary of the epic poem, The Song of El Cid (El Cantar de Mío Cid), immortalising the famous Knight of Castile who, while born on the bottom rung of the ladder of nobility, became the Prince of Valencia and leader of one of the most powerful Kingdoms on the XI century Iberian Peninsula. To commemorate this historic milestone, eight provinces have joined forces to create the Camino del Cid which, in addition to giving all who travel it a fascinating insight into Medieval Spain, also features some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe...
Report: Carolyn Mowlem
Log on to your favourite search engine, key-in his name, and up come more than 3.5 million references to El Cid. A legend throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and a national and folk hero in Spain, along with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table he is one of the most important champions of Medieval European history. There are other parallels, too. The Cantor de Mío Cid (of which there are several English translations) rates highly in European literature, together with Britain's XI century Beowulf, France's Song of Roland, Germany's Nibelungenlied and the Icelandic Sagas, while El Cid's fabled 'La Tizona’ sword has been dubbed Spain's answer to King Arthur's 'Excalibur and Charlemagne's ‘Joyeuse’.
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, later to be known as El Cid Campeador, was born in or around 1040, in a small town in the north of Burgos, at a time when the Iberian Peninsula consisted of both Christian and Islamic kingdoms forming a complex tapestry of diplomatic relations. Educated at the royal court of Castile, he became Alfonso VI's right-hand man, fighting against the Moors during the early Reconquest. A brilliant military strategist and popular with the troops he both fed and paid well, after later being exiled he worked as a mercenary for various other rulers both Christian and Muslim and went on to conquer and govern the city of Valencia, where he died in 1099.
The fact that he won favour in both XI century camps is succinctly summed up by his title. El Cid derives from the Andalusian-Arabic dialect where al-sid comes from the Arabic sayyid, meant, chief or lord, while El Cornpeador, or tV•' champion, which derives from the Latin campi doctor, was bestowed by his Christian supporters. His body, together with that of his wife, Dona Jimena, has reposed in the magnificent Cathedral of Burgos – A World Heritage Site – since 1921.
Not on1y created as a historic, literary and cultural route, the Camino del Cid has also been devised to promote international tourism throughout several of Spain's lesser known inland regions. And with dramatic contrasting landscapes guaranteed to take your breath away, together with more than its fair share of impressive ancient monuments, magnificent cities, charming rural villages and no shortage of fine watering-holes and comfortable hostelries to coerce you into lingering longer, the Camino del Cid offers the perfect opportunity to get up dose and personal with the Spanish interior.
Constituted in 1996, it is an ambitious joint venture between the provincial authorities of Burgos, Soria, Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Teruel, Castellón, Valencia and Alicante, which have together developed two fascinating routes — one by road, and the other which can be discovered on foot, bicycle, or horseback. The adventure begins in Vivar del Cid (Burgos), birthplace of the famous Knight, with journeys end on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Linking no fewer than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the twin routes are the most impressive in Europe, both in terms of length and content, The plethora of historic towns and villages along the way include jewels in the Spanish crown such as Covarrubias (Burgos), El Burgo de Osma (Soria), Daroca (Zaragoza), Albarracin (Teruel), Morella (Castellón), Xátiva (Valencia) and Elche (Alicante). And with the awe-inspiring landscapes — from the ancient, gnarled juniper forests of Arlanza (Valencia), the vast natural saltwater lakes of Gallocanta and the majestic Sierra del Maestrazgo (Teruel), to the enchanting palm groves of Elche and the magnificent Parques Naturales del Alto Tajo (Guadalajara) and Albufera de Valencia — it is impossible to remain unmoved by the sheer diversity and splendour of Nature.
The route by road totals 1,131 km, while the 'green' alternative of tracks, trails and bridle paths — some of which are still in the process of being signposted with the distinctive legend Ego Ruderico (Latin for ‘I, Rodrigo’) - is slightly longer at 1,312 km. To make your journey of discovery easy, various maps and comprehensive GPS co-ordinates can be downloaded from the Consorcio Camino del Cid website.
Almost 1,000 years later, El Cid — and his valiant bite steed Babieca — are commemorated by 'Anthony Mann's blockbusting 1961 movie starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren, Massenet's Le Cid, said to be Placido Domingo's all-time favourite opera, and the myriad hotels, restaurants, cinemas, housing developments and tourist resorts that bear his name. But with the opening of the Camino del Cid, allowing you to follow in the actual footsteps of this legendary Knight and his valiant white steed Babieca, the true story has been brought alive as never before.FURTHER INFORMATION Consorcio Camino del Cid website: www.caminodelcid.org firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (+34) 947 256 240
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