The urban network of streets and alleys of the neighborhood known as Santa Maria, invite you to get lost in them and go reconstructing, one by one, the vestiges of the magnificent past of Alcazar de San Juan.
The stories and legends that have given name to each of these arteries of the neighborhood brimming with typicality will help in our adventure, a path that we can follow thanks to the narrative plaques of the streets in which the pedestrian can know the genealogy of these roads or who lived and when in a certain house.
Our path leads us to the genesis of Alcazar de San Juan, represented in the archaeological sites and the Municipal Museum.
The Deposits of the Calle Gracia are nothing more than an open-air site where the remains of all the stages of occupation that throughout history inhabited the space that is currently Alcázar de San Juan are shown. Overlapping layers of different eras and cultures, from the Roman villa, origin of the current population center, to the most recent history through the Arab and Christian Middle Ages. This site is completed with prehistoric and medieval sites found in other places outside the urban area such as Motilla de los Romeros or Piédrola.
A sample of the archaeological heritage of Alcázar de San Juan and the area is gathered in the Municipal Museum (c/ Santo Domingo, 10) located in the old manor house of the Sanabria family and what remains of the old chapel of Santo Domingo Soriano. An archaeological legacy that takes us back, on the one hand, to the prehistoric period of Alcázar, from which we can find a series of lithic elements characteristic of different periods: polished axes, axes, sickle teeth, arrowheads, bifaces. Likewise, remains of the different pre-Roman settlers are kept until reaching the star of the museum, the Roman mosaics found in different places of the urban area.
If we follow our steps through the neighborhood of Santa Maria, of Qasr Banu Atiyya (Arabic name given to the town of Alcazar in 935) we still find evident vestiges such as the irregular grid of the streets that make up this old town and the remains of a fortified space or Palacial Complex (C/ Quijote, 10), of which the following were members Gran Prior’s Towerthe one known as Cubillo and the space currently occupied by the Santa Maria ChurchAll of them are of a peculiar reddish color of the local sandstone of the large stone ashlars used in the walls, openings and parapets.
The Torreón del Gran Prior, from the 13th century, is one of the most imposing and significant vestiges of the medieval past of Alcázar de San Juan. A construction of three bodies belonging to a set of originally Islamic military character, which ended up being a magnificent residence for the Prior of the Order of San Juan. Entering it, we enter the history of the Hospitaller Order of St. John, its settlement in Alcázar de San Juan since 1237 and its knights. From its battlements, we discover at our feet what is known as the Cubillo¸ part of the old wall that surrounded Alcázar before the arrival of the Order of St. John. It shows the remains of a semi-elliptical tower covered by a ribbed vault.
The Church of Santa Maria La Mayor (Plaza de Santa Maria, 7) is the oldest temple in the town, its origins date back to the Romanesque style of the s.. XIII and has received later contributions in different periods and styles such as Renaissance and Baroque which is the style under which the magnificent chapel of the Virgen del Rosario, patron saint and perpetual mayoress of Alcazar de San Juan is made.
Windmills. Crowning the Cerro de San Antón like watchtowers, the windmills of Alcázar de San Juan (Rocinante, Barataria, Fierabrás and Barcelona) are nothing more than highly precise mechanical devices used to grind grain and obtain flour by harnessing the energy of nature: the wind.
The miller’s job was hard and very temporary, requiring great physical strength to carry the cereal and flour or move the stones when necessary, and was carried out at very specific times of the year, mainly after the harvest, and only on those days when the wind was favorable for milling, which could last several days in a row.
Today, 4 of the 19 windmills and 2 watermills that the city once had are preserved. Two mills have been museumized. One is used as a Manchego Landscape Interpretation Center and the other houses a reconstruction of the original 16th century machinery that performs traditional milling at various times throughout the year.
The Cerro de San Antón has other singular works: the Cueva del Polvorín and the Canteras.
Casa de la Gobernación. It could have been the residence of the governor of the Priory of the Order of St. John when Alcazar assumed the capital of the priory in the 18th century. Later it was used as a Military Regiment, being also known as Casa Palma and currently houses a Sheltered Housing for the Elderly.
It is a construction of three bodies, the lower one of red sandstone ashlars, the second of masonry and the third, separated by a projecting stone cornice and a row of stone ashlars, completely rebuilt.
Its windows are large and rectangular, highlighted by stone ashlars. The original construction of the rectangular courtyard delimited by stone columns, on which are raised balusters, beams and wooden footings, has been preserved.
There is also an interior cave, which was once the stables, separated into three parts by semicircular arches built in stone ashlars. It is covered with a half-barrel vault made of masonry.