Strangely, the history of Campo de Criptana actually began before the sixteenth century. It’s modern day aspect wouldn’t, however, lead you believe that as the town, a typically Manchegan municipality, is famous for its windmills located principally on the Sierra de los Molinos.
This was the place that inspired Cervantes to pen the globally celebrated battles of Don Quixote against the Giants and, as early as 1575, Campo de Criptana was recorded as the only town in the four provinces of La Mancha with so many windmills, a total of 34, more than all the other towns of the region.
But the history of Campo de Criptana dates back thousands of years to the Neolithic when the search for metals and its consequent cascade of invasion began. The Greek historian Polibius, commenting in the second century B.C. writes of incursions by the Carthaginian army and these were followed by the Romans, the Visigoths and the Vandals who all strode, fought and died across these lands. And, after the successful incursion into Iberian by Tariq ibn Ziyad, he of Gibraltar fame, in 711 A.D., the influence of Arabic culture spread across the Iberian Peninsula touching all corners of Al Andaluz.
Blood has often bathed the soil around Campo de Criptana and in the 16th century, the town passed to the knights of the Order of Santiago, forming the centre of a larger estate.
The world-renowned windmills appeared in the 16th century and these, together with other famous monuments constructed at around the same time, such as the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, the Royal Pósito, the Convent of barefoot Carmelites, and the Hermitages of the Virgin of La Paz, Veracruz or Santa Ana, form a backdrop that provides a magnificent setting for the many spectacles, markets and cultural events that are held at their feet.
Now, the town’s intimate association with the Don Quixote, created by that inimitable giant of Spanish literature, Cervantes, acts as an irresistible attraction to many thousands of tourists every year.