Atienza (Guadalajara)

  • Castle of Atienza, province of Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Approaching to the village of Atienza, in the province of Guadalajara, following the road cycling tourist route of The Way of el Cid / ALC.
  • Castle of Atienza, province of Guadalajara  / ALC.
  • North façade of Santa María del Rey church. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Detail of the Arabic inscriptions on the north door of the church of Santa María del Rey, in Atienza (Guadalajara) / ALC.
  • South façade of Santa María del Rey church. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Romanesque doorway of the church of Santa María, in Atienza / ALC.
  • Detail of the South door Romanesque archivolts in Santa María del Rey. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Tower of the church of Santa María del Rey. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Bullring -plaza de toros- and church of the Holy Trinity, in Atienza (Guadalajara) / ALC.
  • The castle and city walls of Atienza, province of Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Arrebatacapas door, one of the main entrances to the medieval city of Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Wheat Square, also called Market Square. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Manor houses. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Cornered window in one of the manor houses of Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Streets of Atienza, declared Historical and Artistic Site / ALC.
  • Stamping point in Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Arrebatacapas Door. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Posada del Cordón. Guadalajara Provincial Ethnographic Museum and Atienza Tourist Office / ALC.
  • Typical streets of Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • San Gil church and art museum. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Romanesque apse of San Gil church. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • One of the entrance doors to the village of Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Walls of the ancient Jewish citadel of Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Porticoed gallery. Romanesque church of San Bartolomé. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Porticoed gallery of the Romanesque church of San Bartolomé. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Second walled enclosure and San Bartolomé church. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Romanesque church of Santa María del Val, in Atienza (Guadalajara) / ALC.
  • Door of Santa María del Val chuch. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Contortionist or juggler. Detail of the Romanesque doorway of the church of Santa María del Val, in Atienza (Guadalajara) / ALC.
  • Romanesque acrobat. Santa María del Val church. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • View from the walls of Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Walls of Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Summer landscape and walls. Atienza, Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Fiesta de La Caballada in Atienza, province of Guadalajara. Festivity of National Tourist Interest. It commemorates the charge of muleteers in Atienza, 1162, that saved king of Castilla Alfonso VIII from falling into the hands of his uncle
  • View of the castle of Atienza, in the province of Guadalajara, from the Way of el Cid / ALC.
  • These markers indicate that you are on the route and generally feature the Way of El Cid Consortium logo, as well as two bands or lines in colours that depend on the type of path you are following / ALC.
  • Shelter in front of the castle of Atienza, province of Guadalajara / ALC.
  • Low installation and maintenance costs, paint markings are also highly versatile and have a low environmental impact. Most appear on their own or with some kind of inscription / Diputación de Guadalajara.

...On the left they pass Atienza, a very high cliff,
they then crossed the Miedes mountains, 
through the Montes Claros they spur on, 

The Song of el Cid, verses 2691 et seq.

According to  the Cantar de  mío Cid , in order not to be discovered, the hosts of el Cid ride at night and rest for the day, avoiding strongholds like Atienza's, which the poem calls "a strong rock" ("una peña fuerte").

The story offers more information about the village: the situation of Atienza, in the border area between the Christian kingdoms of the north and the Muslim kingdoms of the south, meant that during the 9th to 12th centuries Atienza changed hands on several occasions. There is not much documentation about the medieval past of the town: apparently, at the beginning of the 11th century, the caliph of Córdoba, Sulayman, handed it over to Count Sancho Garcés along with other fortresses, such as Gormaz, as consideration for the military  support by the count in his struggle for the caliphate. By then Atienza was already fortified (the historian Al Razi states that already in the tenth century Atienza was one of the strongest fortresses north of present-day Guadalajara), although the origins of the current castle date back to the 12th century.

After the disintegration of the Caliphate, Atienza belonged to the Taifa kingdom of Toledo, and was conquered by Alfonso VI in 1085, although it would not definitely pass into Christian hands until 1112, when Alfonso I of Aragon El Batallador conquered the castle.

In 1149, Alfonso VII granted jurisdiction to the town, and shortly thereafter, the still young Prince Alfonso VIII was the protagonist of the nobiliary internal struggles from which he left unscathed thanks to the help of the inhabitants of Atienza, who still celebrate this fact in the Fiesta de la Caballada, a festivity that dates back to 1162.


What you can see and do in Atienza

Atienza is an astonishing town for its rich heritage, much of which can be seen in its four museums (a surprisingly large number considering that the town has less than 500 inhabitants) and in its streets, which still call to mind much of their medieval and Renaissance past. A stroll around the town centre is well worth the while and a surprise for visitors who do not know it. Under the shadow of the ever-dominant castle, time seems to have stopped in its steep streets, its Romanesque churches and the porticoed, typically Castilian squares.

One of the most important squares is Bruno Pascual Square, also known as the Wheat or Market Square, which can be reached along Cervantes Street or going through the Arch or Gate of Arrebatacapas (“Blower-away of Capes”, a name that indicates the wind that can blow through it), which formed part of the old town walls. This gate connected the inner square with the Square of Spain, with the Town Hall, which was outside the first town walls. It was King Alfonso VIII who began the construction of second defensive walls in the 12th century as well as a citadel for the Jews.

It is worth going up to the castle. The fortress that now distinguishes the town was used as a prison. In Atienza they believe that one of its ‘guests’ was King Francisco I of France, who was temporarily held after the Battle of Pavía in 1525.

The ascent to the castle provides some superb views of the surroundings and these themselves explain the strategic importance of Atienza. Nest to the walls, the remains of the original triple defences of the town, the Church of Santa María del Rey was built in 1112, as stated in an inscription on the north door, to commemorate the ‘liberation’ of the town, which until then had been in Muslim hands. With all likelihood, as usually occurred, this St Mary’s Church was built on the old mosque, as demonstrated by the arch of the northern entrance, where in calligraphic letters is written: “The importance of Allah”. 

From St Mary’s, visitors can return to the streets of the town and see some of the four museums, all of them of great interest. The Museum of Religious Art, in the Church of St Gil, possesses some astonishing heritage, while the museum in the Romanesque church of San Bartolomé exhibits some highly interesting objects and an amazing collection of fossils. The equally Romanesque church of the Holy Trinity holds the museum of Sacred-Religious Art and the museum of the Confraternity of La Caballeda. On the southern side, the solitary apse of St Francis’s Church is Gothic with English influence.

Atienza is an important town with numerous services for travellers. The famous festival of La Caballeda, that takes place every Pentecostal Sunday, originated in the liberation of the boy-king Alfonso VIII by the town inhabitants in 1162.


You also should not miss

  • Atienza possesses numerous attractions for lovers of history and art, but if you like Romanesque architecture, you mustn’t miss the doorway of the church of Santa María del Val. This church is outside Atienza and is private property, but it is worth going to see the acrobats who are holding up the archivolt of the doorway, an unusual image in Castilian Romanesque art.

Rev.: JGG 16.09.21


Useful information

Rev. ALC: 16.07.18