The castle and the battle of Alcocer

Archaeological site of Alcocer, place of La Mora Encantada, in Ateca, province of Zaragoza / Zaragoza Provincial Council.

Head towards Terrer on road N II A. After passing Ateca, continue straight for 3km. Turn left onto a soil path. The site is only 500m away. Ateca


976 842 005 - Ateca Tourist Info

According to El Cantar, El Cid passed Ateca on the sixteenth day of exile, setting up camp on the hillock of Torrecid. This is a readily defensible place overlooking the fortified town of Alcocer, which is now a waste ground placed at a distance of 3km from Ateca. El Cid laid siege to Alcocer for 105 days, managing to gain stronghold of the town by a trick.

A few days after having gained stronghold of Alcocer, an army of 3000 Moorish warriors came to Alcocer from Valencia to besiege El Cid and his men. These forces surrounded the town for three weeks, cutting off the water supplies in hopes of driving El Cid out. El Cid’s army responded by preparing for battle. Pedro Bermúdez was given the honour of riding up, bearing El Cid’s banner and attacking the Moors, who were defeated at a bloody battle at which 1,300 Moors died, while only 15 of El Cid’s men were lost.

After defeating the Moors, El Cid’s army plundered the riches from the enemy camp, taking 510 horses as well as gold and silver. El Cid remained in Alcocer an extra week, so as to make arrangements to sell Alcocer back to the Moors of Ateca, Terrer and Calatayud for three thousand silver marks. He then set his army in motion, heading towards the south.

The Battle of Alcocer episode is one of the main episodes in El Cantar de Mío Cid, for it left El Cid’s army great riches, which El Cid and his men used to move further on, along the banks of the river Jiloca.

There is no general consensus among scholars on why the poet, who knew the area, decided to set one of the bloodiest episodes of El Cantar in Alcocer. Tourists will have to draw their own conclusions. The castle or town of Alcocer is now an archeological site, situated in a region called La Mora Encantada. It originally consisted of a single tower, surrounded by a wall. Some barely visible remains of a wall dating to the Islamic period have been found. Only the base components, which have a height of 40cms, remain present, in spite of which it is possible to distinguish the walls, some of the rooms, two silos and a turret with a semicircular base resting on a rock.

Throughout the centuries, Alcocer was one of the most controversial toponomies included in El Cantar, largely because scholars were unable to geographically locate the town and castle on the map. Archeological discoveries served to confirm the information included in the poem’s lines.

Rev. PAB 27.12.18

  • Archaeological site of Alcocer, place of La Mora Encantada, in Ateca, province of Zaragoza / Zaragoza Provincial Council.
  • Paneles informativos en el yacimiento de La Mora Encantada (DPZ)
  • Archaeological site of Alcocer, where one of the bloodiest battles of The Song of el Cid takes place. It´s near Ateca, province of Zaragoza / Provincial Counci of Zaragoza.