Gallocanta Circular Route

Zaragoza - Teruel
Route:From Daroca (Zaragoza) to Daroca (Zaragoza) (Ruta circular)
Journeys:1 day
Cabecera mapa Motor Anillo-de-Gallocanta
Click image to enlarge
  • Streets of Daroca, a medieval town of two thousand inhabitants, in the province of Zaragoza / Ramón Sanz Frax.
  • Village of Gallocanta, province of Zaragoza. ALC
  • El Castillo Street, in Gallocanta, province of Zaragoza / ALC
  • The Gallocanta Lake is one of Europe´s most important wetland and birdwatching areas / Eduardo Viñuales.
  • Peaceful landscapes in the Way of el Cid / Luis Esteras Maluenda.


Gallocanta Circular Route by car or motorbike

  • Route: circular, Daroca - Daroca
  • Provinces: Zaragoza, Teruel
  • Kilometres: Approx. 78 km.
  • Days recommended: 1 day.


Information you can download on this page

Remember that you can obtain more information about each route at the tourist information offices on the Way of El Cid, including brochures and the Letter of safe conduct.

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The Plot

This short yet challenging circular route starts in Daroca. El Cid is known to have camped in this city for several days in 1090, and it was here that he signed a treaty with the Catalonian Count Berenguer Ramón II, shortly after defeating him at El Maestrazgo. The Song of the Cid also refers to Daroca, claiming that the city paid tribute to El Cid, whose men had subjugated the entire area, although there is little historical evidence to this effect. According to the Poem, in order to impose his will, El Cid set up various camps from which he launched his raids. Perhaps the most famous of these is said to have been in Poyo del Cid (Teruel) and the other in Allucant. It is not known exactly where this place is, although a number of scholars posit that it is in fact Gallocanta, a town which was known as Allucant back in the 13th century. This possibility has led to the creation of a delightful circular route of great historical and ecological value, the perfect choice for a weekend excursion.

 Daroca, Zaragoza. Santiago Cabello.Daroca, Zaragoza. Santiago Cabello.


The Journey: what to expect

This quiet circular route runs along roads with little traffic, although on some stretches the road surface is in poor condition. The objective of this tour is to explore the delightful Gallocanta Lagoon and its surroundings, and therefore the route traces a wide circle around the entire perimeter, passing close to the freshwater Zaida Lagoon.

Gallocanta Lagoon is actually a magnificent series of lagoons whose shores are dotted with small villages. It is one of Western Europe’s largest saltwater lagoons and boasts a wealth of flora and fauna. Each winter this ecosystem is visited by thousands of cranes and other migratory birds who stop here on their long flight from northern Europe to Africa. Together with the large numbers of other water birds, steppe birds and birds of prey (more than two hundred species) that live here, they form a truly spectacular sight, turning Gallocanta into one of Europe’s ornithological paradises.

This history of this area is also intriguing: the first documented settlement dates back some 4,000 years. This is a fertile land and the salinity of the lagoon is greater than that of the sea. As a result, since ancient times it has been a site of salterns and iron mining. The mines required large amounts of wood, which led to the deforestation of the territory and the emergence of arable and pasture lands. This rich and fertile land is sheltered by mountain ranges with two major natural passes leading to the Valley of Jiloca and Molina de Aragón.

Since ancient times, the settlements have been fiercely defended, which explains the large number of castles to be seen in this area, including SantedBerrueco, Tornos, etc. Most date back to the Middle Ages, although they stand on the site of earlier fortifications. The area is also home to a number of interesting Celtiberian archaeological sites, such as El Castellar, not far from Berrueco: visitors are welcome, and although it is located 1 km off the route, it is well worth making the detour.

The final stage brings us back to Daroca. This monumental town was founded by the Yemeni Moors in the 8th century. Once inside its imposing walls, visitors will feel as if they have travelled back in time. Daroca boasts a rich and varied artistic heritage that reflects its long history. The best way of discovering its secrets is to wander around the streets, losing yourself among the alleys, courtyards and picturesque spots. The town’s Moorish past is also in evidence in its gastronomy, and especially its sweets and pastries, with delicacies such as the trenzas mudéjares – almond and walnut pastries or almojábanas – delicious aniseed ring-shaped pastries.

 Berrueco, Zaragoza.Berrueco, Zaragoza.

Tips and recommendations

  • Although this route can be completed in a single day, we recommend staying overnight at any of the villages in the area in order to enjoy a peaceful stroll around the lagoon at daybreak or dusk. Even though you are travelling by car or motorbike, we recommend suitable clothing and footwear for cross-country walking.
  • Accommodation should be booked in advance, especially in winter, during the high season for cranes.
  • Remember that the road you are on is also used by cyclists and you might come across a few of them on your journey. Respect them and take great care. Especially when overtaking: keep a safety distance of 1.5 m.
  • Get your Letter of safe conduct. The Letter of Safe Conduct is a personalised 'passport' you can have stamped at many towns and villages on the Way of El Cid. You can use it to get discounts of at least 10% in more than 200 places of accommodation and benefit from special offers. It is free and you can apply for it at any of the more than 70 tourist information offices on the route or at the Way of El Cid Consortium.
  • Your literary guide. You might think it's unnecessary weight, but for many it is essential: don't forget to take with you a copy of the Song of El Cid; you will be able to recreate some of its passages on site.

Rev. ALC: 05.10.18

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