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Excursion to Siguenza

 

1. Locating Sigüenza

Municipality in the province of Guadalajara, located 130km. from Madrid.

2.Climate

A Mediterranean climate with a tendency towards a moderate continental climate, with scarce rain causing it to have somewhat cold temperatures in winter and very warm temperatures in summer.


Today Sigüenza is proud to be a beautiful and inviting city, enriched by the passing of time though it seems that time has not altered its medieval character. The city conserves its medieval structure which invites the visitor to stroll through the winding streets of the city contemplating interesting monuments and visiting shops filled with local artisan crafts. 


3. Monuments

A proposed route through the city can begin at the Main Plaza. The Plaza Mayor is a majestic example of Renaissance architecture, although the surrounding buildings show details which pertain to other styles.
You simply must visit the cathedral of Cistercians style, with its magnificent gothic rosette windows dating from the 12th to the 15th century and the accounts office in the city hall building of plateresque style. In the interior of the cathedral you can find magnificent relieves, altars and altarpieces. The Chapel of the Doncel is located in the right hand branch of the cross. It was constructed to hold the remains of  Martín Vázquez de Arce, the so-called "Doncel" of Sigüenza, a young nobleman and warrior who lost his life fighting against the Moors in Granada in 1486. His prone statue in alabaster is considered to be one of the best of its style in Europe. The surprising realism and the posture of the figure, lying down with a book open in the hands, is unusual in a mausoleum. 
The cathedral's museum is installed in three areas of the Cloister: the town library, the summer Capitular room and the ancient fragua. These rooms in and of themselves are considered pieces of great historic and artistic value.

In front of the cathedral is the Diocese Museum which holds examples of Siguenza history as well as important works of art. 
We can walk through the steeply inclined streets and contemplate the remains of medieval walls, with the Iron Gate (Puerta de Hierro) and Main Archway (Arco del Portal Mayor). At the end of the main street and in the highest point of the city is the castle. You can freely explore the exterior and the impressive patio. The fortress conserves intact the original layout and main rooms: throne room, Doña Blanca's room, main patio and the precious Romanesque style chapel. The castle is now used as accommodation for the National Parador of Tourism, a state owned hotel, which receives numerous visitors and celebrates cultural activities.

4. Anecdotes

El Doncel de Sigüenza: Don Martín Vázquez de Arce was born somewhere in the Castile region. From a very young age he was put to service with the Mendoza family of Guadalajara. His father being the personal secretary of the same family. Learned in arts, letters and arms, he served as a page to the First Duke of the Infantry, and accompanied the Spanish troops in diverse war campaigns in Vega de Granada. In July of 1486, at 26 years of age, he fell in an ambush created by the Arabes in the Granada valley, Islamic swords reached him. His father recovered his body and some years later it was taken to Sigüenza, where the family has acquired a chapel in the cathedral which they named San Juan y Santa Catalina and there they placed the body of don Martín Vázquez de Arce. His brother Fernando, bishop of the Canary Islands ordered the prone statue for his tomb. It is not known for certain who was the sculptor of this work, but it seems probable that this famous statue was carved in the workshop of Sebastián de Almonacid in the city of Guadalajara around 1492.

The Doncel of Sigüenza was married to a mysterious woman, and had a daughter, Ana, who inherited his possessions, few as they were. The Acre family always maintained the cathedral chapel, in which years later they buried the parents of Doncel, his brothers, cousins, uncles, etc. Today it is one of the highest esthetic sensations that you can enjoy: you enter the medieval cathedral of Sigüenza, move forward through the main church, cross to the cross arm and arrive before the sober gate "Juan Francés" to them enter into this chapel, in which the dim ivory light from the high narrow area bathes the enclosure in unreal and timeless poetry.

The Doncel lies, in carefully worked alabaster, prone with legs crossed. He is a gentleman who died fighting for "the Crusade" against the unfaithful. He has a book open in his hands, and he seems to be meditating while looking off into the distance, after having read. On his chest is the red cross of the Order of Santiago of which he is a member. At his feet, over the metallic closure, a miniature page looks at him and cries.  El Doncel of Sigüenza is the maximum representation of medieval culture, the use of arms to defend the faith, reading to reach knowledge. Always looking off into the distance, indicating assured residence of the soul.

 

Cities in Spain
Salamanca - a walk
Shopping Salamanca
Nightlife - Malaga
Gastronomy-Málaga
Gastronomy-Salamanca
Places to go - Alcalá
Excursion - Segovia
Excursion - Siguenza
Trip to Matavenero
Celebrations / Events
Semana Cervantina
Carnival in Spain
April Fair-Sevilla
San Isidro in Madrid
Fiesta del Pilar
Alcalá Film Festival
Christmas in Spain
Spanish Christmas carols
Culture
Picasso Museum
Flamenco in Malaga
Cervantes in Alcalá
Bullfight