The Don Quixote Windmills 

“Tilting at windmills” is an English expression taken from Miguel de Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote. In the book, the chivalrous, but crazy Don Quixote rides in to do battle with a group of giants who are terrorizing a local village. After he engages with the monsters he comes out of his trance and realizes he was actually fighting a windmill. The expression describes confrontations where the adversary is incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.

The actual Don Quixote Windmills that inspired this influential piece of literature are still standing and they are located in la Mancha region, some are even still functioning and best of all, they can still be visited. There are three main areas of Spain where these iconic buildings can be experienced:

Table of Contents

Consuegra

Consuegra is located about an hour and a half drive from Madrid in the province of Toledo. Of all the windmills you can visit in Spain, these are the best preserved.

Located high on a hill outside the town of Consuegra you will find 11 of these iconic white windmills, one of which is still functioning and used for demonstrations for tourists on days with favourable weather. You will be able to go inside them and learn the history of the windmills as well as their relation to Cervantes. As an added bonus there is also a medieval castle right next to them that you can visit as well: El Castillo de la Muela.

If you are planning on visiting Toledo, make sure to set aside an hour or two to go visit this amazing landmark.

Campo de Criptana

There are 10 windmills of Campo de Criptana. They are located in the province of Ciudad Real in Castilla la Mancha, about 2 hours south of Madrid. This group of windmills’ claim-to-fame is that they are the actual ten windmills that most likely inspired Cervantes while writing Don Quixote.

They were built in the XVI century. In that time, the Spanish people were familiar with the use of water-powered mills and windmills were not used. During this time there was a terrible drought and soldiers who had returned from the Crusades and had come across this technology during their travels helped to bring this innovation to the Iberian Peninsula.

There was once up to thirty mills in Campo de Criptana that were used for milling wheat with which to make bread and they were used up until the 1950s.

Mota del Cuervo

Mota del Cuervo is a small village, 1 hour and 40 minutes outside of Madrid in the Province of Cuenca. Here we will find 7, extremely well-preserved windmills furnished with all the original tools and utensils.

The town of Mota del Cuervo is quaint and charming and 1 hour down the road from Aranjuez.

FAQ

Why did Don Quixote attack a windmill?

In the book, Don Quixote, caught up in his fantasy of being a true knight, imagines that the windmills are giants attacking a village, and charges at them in an act of valor. 

Where are the windmills of Don Quixote?

The quick answer is that they are located in Castilla la Mancha. But Castilla la Mancha is a one of Spain’s biggest regions.

The best preserved windmills can be found in three different locations of this region of Spain: Consuegra, Campo de Criptana and Mota del Cuervo. 

Where is Consuegra?

Consuegra is one hour and a half by car from Madrid, due south, and half an hour south from Toledo. 

Distance from Toledo to Consuegra?

68 km / 42 miles 

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