Province of Guadalajara

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Guadalajara (pronounced [ɡwaðalaˈxaɾa] ) is a province of Spain, belonging to the autonomous community of Castilla–La Mancha. As of 2019 it had a population of 258,890 people.[1] The population of the province has grown in the last 10 years. It is located in the centre of the Iberian Peninsula.

Flag of Guadalajara
Coat of arms of Guadalajara
Map of Spain with Guadalajara highlighted
Map of Spain with Guadalajara highlighted
Coordinates: 40°50′N 2°30′W / 40.833°N 2.500°W / 40.833; -2.500
Autonomous communityCastilla–La Mancha
 • Total12,167 km2 (4,698 sq mi)
 • RankRanked 17th
 • Total258,890
 • RankRanked 42nd
 • Density21/km2 (55/sq mi)
 0.52% of Spain
DemonymGuadalajareño / Guadalajareña
ISO 3166 codeES-GU
Official language(s)Spanish
ParliamentCortes Generales




Petroglyph depicting a hierogamy found in the Cueva de los Casares

The province has been inhabited since the Paleolithic as evidenced by stone tools found on the banks of the Henares and Linares rivers. There are also numerous prehistoric cave paintings in the Cueva de los Casares in Riba de Saelices while Megalithic tombs from the 4th millennium B.C. have been found at various sites in the province including Alcolea del Pinar. There are remains of several Bronze Age settlements along the river banks in the area, notably that in Loma del Lomo in Cogolludo as well as a late Bronze Age settlement in Mojares.[2]

Celtiberians and Romans


The Celtiberians occupied the territory during the late Iron Age between the 6th and 3rd centuries B.C. in Sigüenza, Atienza, and Termancia in the north and further south around Molina. In addition to raising livestock and breeding horses, they created many fortified towns and villages as well as castles. Between 143 and 133 B.C., the Romans initiated their battles to conquer Spain which continued until 94 B.C. They brought agriculture, mining, and commerce to the region, facilitating communications with roads and bridges. The important Roman city was Segontia (Sigüenza), although they built a town wall around Luzaga and public buildings.[2]

Middle Ages

An aquitanian clergy, Bernard of Agen, bishop of Sigüenza, conquered the territory of his diocese.

The Visigoths, with their capital at Toledo, were dominant in the area around the 6th and 7th centuries A.D., bringing Christianity and Germanic law into the region. In 578, King Leovigild founded Recópolis on the River Tagus with a basilica and a palace. The Moors arrived in the area in c. 711, establishing Islamic rule for some four centuries until the early 13th century. Their most important contribution was founding of the current-day provincial capital, Madinat-al-Faray (Guadalajara, from Arabic وادي الحجارة wādi al-ħajāra, "streambed/valley of stones"), which was established by the Berber captain al-Faray, remembered for overcoming the Christians in the 9th century.[2]

The territory now covered by the Province of Guadalajara was part of the Middle March of Al-Andalus. Generally sparsely populated, the most important towns were Atienza, Guadalajara, Jadraque, Hita and Sigüenza. Following the dismemberment of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Toledo gained independence in 1018, reaching its zenith under Yahya-al-Mamun who reigned from 1043 to 1075. Following his death, pressure from King Alfonso VI of León and Castile led to the beginning of Christian conquest of the region in 1085. By the early 12th century, Molina, La Serrania, Sigüenza and the Tagus Valley were retrieved leading to the establishment of the Bishopric of Sigüenza. Under Alfonso VII and Alfonso VIII, the region was repopulated with people from other parts of Castile. With the conquest of Cuenca and Alarcón at the end of the 12th century and the victory at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, the entire territory of Guadalajara was again in the hands of the Castilian Christians.[3]

Modern age and Renaissance

Pedro González de Mendoza, the Cardinal Mendoza.

The modern age began with the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon whose marriage in Valladolid in 1469 united the crowns of Castile and Aragón. They centralized the authority which had developed in the church, the military and the nobility ostensibly to earn income for fighting the infidels by reselling the territories they had gained. In the 16th century, this practice was reinforced by Charles I and Philip II. In Guadalajara, this was particularly the case with areas that had belonged to the military orders of Calatrava and Pastrana. The Mendozas who succeeded in acquiring substantial territories built a fortified palace in Pastrana and extended their influence over Sayatón, Escopete and Albalate.[2]

Under the Mendozas, the city of Guadalajara prospered in the 15th and 16th centuries, attracting writers, historians and philosophers, bringing it the name la Atenas alcarreña (the Alcarrian Athens). Encouraged by the Renaissance, Íñigo López de Mendoza, 1st Marquis of Santillana, (1398–1458) not only built palaces, churches and monasteries but developed a large library of Greek and Latin volumes. In the 16th century, his namesake Íñigo López de Mendoza, 4th Duke of the Infantado, (1493–1566) went on to found an academy in the city, attracting additional writers. Pastrana also prospered during the Renaissance under the leadership of Ruy Gómez de Silva (1516–1573) with the establishment of Latin and choir schools. By the end of the 16th century, the town was famous for its tapestries and its Carmelite convents. With the death of Ruy's widow, Ana de Mendoza in 1592, the nobility moved to Madrid, causing the province to lose the high status it had achieved. While the Spanish Golden Age developed in central Spain during the 17th century, Guadalajara experienced an extended period of decline as the Habsburgs brought about increased centralization.[2]

18th and 19th centuries


In the early 18th century, under the War of the Spanish Succession, the city of Guadalajara and the province's main towns all suffered considerable damage. In 1719, a royal textile factory was established in Guadalajara, bringing workers not only from across Spain but from the rest of Europe, especially the Netherlands. The factory prospered throughout the 18th century but was closed in the early 19th century as a result of the War of Spanish Independence. During the War of Independence, French troops caused extensive damage to towns in the province, especially Molina where over 600 buildings were destroyed by fire. When the city of Guadalajara was liberated in 1813, it was left in a devastated and poverty-stricken state. Conditions improved in 1840 with the establishment of the Academy of Military Engineering in the former textile factory. Further military installations followed, culminating at the end of the century in the establishment of the Airship Regiment which led to a range of early exploits and experiments.[2] The finding of silver in the mining district of Hiendelaencina in 1844 lead to a silver rush in the area.[4]

Recent history


The military facilities continued to provide Guadalajara with financial relief during the first 30 years of the 20th century. The population increased slightly, while further improvements resulted from the influence of the wealthy landowner and politician Count of Romanones who was the representative for Guadalajara from 1886 to 1936. After fighting on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War, the province was given little attention by the successive governments of Francisco Franco until the late 1950s when plans for moving industrial development out of Madrid began to favour Guadalajara and the Henares corridor. While new industries and improved communications brought prosperity to Guadalajara, Torrejón, Alcalá, Azuqueca and Yunquera de Henares, it also caused drastic decreases in population in rural areas.[2]

From 16 to 20 July 2005 the province was devastated by a forest fire, known as the incendio de Guadalajara.[5] Eleven firefighters died after a blowup. The fire was caused by hikers barbecuing.

Geography and climate

Río Salado Canyon
Taravilla Lagoon

The Province of Guadalajara is located in eastern-central Spain, the northeast of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, covering an area of 12.190 km2 (4.707 sq mi),[6] 3.42% of the area of Spain. It is bordered by the provinces of Cuenca, Madrid, Segovia, Soria, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Guadalajara, where nearly 35% of the province's population lives. There are 288 municipalities in Guadalajara, of which more than three-quarters are villages with populations less than 200.

Guadalajara is a mountainous region, the eastern side of the province is in the Sistema Ibérico area, while the Sistema Central rises in the western part.[7][8] The Sistema Ibérico occupies the northeastern part, with the Sierras de Somosierra, Ayllón, Sierra del Ocejón, Alto Rey, Bodera Barahona, and Radona mountains in the vicinity. The mountains are mainly limestone,[9] eroded by the gorges of the rivers, such as the Henares (with a basin area of 3,735 square kilometres), and Jarama (with a basin area of 782 square kilometres) rivers.

The Tagus (Tajo), one of Spain's main rivers, is a major river of the eastern part of the province, forming a basin with an area of 4,686 square kilometres, part of the wider Madrid basin.[7] Also of note is the Tajuña River with an area of 2,015 square kilometres, and the Ebro River, forming a basin area of 996 square kilometres. Other features of note are the Parque Natural del Alto Tajo, Hayedo de Tejera Negra, Lagunas de Puebla de Beleña, Cerros Margosos de Pastrana y Yebra, Cerros Volcánicos de La Miñosa and Prados Húmedos de Torremocha del Pinar.[10]


Snowy pinewoods in the Alto Rey mountains

The province, given its wide and varied geographical features, has a range of different weather conditions, although generally it may be classified as a typical Mediterranean Continental climate of the Central Plateau.[11] Long, dry and hot summers, with equally long and harsh winters give way to milder weather conditions in spring and later in autumn. The climatic diversity produces a range of vegetation and ecosystems, and trees such as oaks, juniper, pine, beech, etc. can all be found in the province.[12] The seasonal distribution of rainfall is influenced by the relief, the most rainfall occurring in the mountainous areas of the Sistema Ibérico with between 700 and 900 mm per year, and in the headwaters of the Jarama and Sorbe rivers in the Sierra de Ayllon, with more than 800 mm. The Henares and Tajuña valleys, and the northern area of moorland in Sigüenza have less than 600 mm annually on average, and in some areas such as the Molina moorlands, bordering the provinces of Zaragoza and Teruel, rainfall may be below 400 mm.



The province contains the comarcas of La Alcarria, La Campiña, La Serranía and Señorío de Molina-Alto Tajo.[13]



The historical population is given in the following chart:



Landmarks of note include the castle and walls of Palazuelos, Palace of El Infantado, Ducal Palace of Pastrana, Palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli (Cogolludo), Sigüenza Cathedral, Cueva de los Casares in La Riba de Saelices and Castillo de Pioz. The Co-cathedral of Santa María de la Fuente la Mayor in the city of Guadalajara was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural site in 1941.[citation needed]



Standing high on a rock, Atienza Castle can be seen from miles around. It frequently changed hands between the Moors and the Christians until it was finally retaken by Alfonso VI in 1085.[14] With foundations dating back to the 5th century, Sigüenza Castle was extended by the Moors and retaken for the Christians by Bernard of Agen in 1123.[15] In the late 18th century, Bishop Juan Díaz de la Guerra changed the appearance of the fortress into that of an episcopal palace but during the War of Spanish Independence it was taken by the French who seriously damaged it. In the 1830s, it was devastated by fire and had to be abandoned.[16] After being fully restored, the castle was opened as a Parador luxury hotel in 1976. Decorated with banners and suits of armour, the huge lounge is the castle's original dining room.[17]

The Castle of Molina de Aragón is located on a hill commanding the surrounding valley, and is formed by an external line of walls with four gates and six towers of which four are currently in good condition. Originally, the line of towers included a village. The castle originated as a Moorish fortress (10th-11th century), built over a pre-existing Celtiberian castle. The fortress was used as residence of the lords of the taifa of Molina. El Cid resided here when he was exiled from Castile. In 1129 it was conquered from the Moors by Alfonso I of Aragon.[18]

The impressive Torija Castle was built in the 11th century by the Knights Templar. Constructed of Alcarria limestone, the rectangular structure has three round towers and a cylindrical keep. In 1445, it was taken by the Navarran captain Juan de Puelles and was subsequently owned by Cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza (1428–1495). In the 19th century, it was occupied by the French under General Hugo, the father of Victor Hugo, until it was taken and destroyed by El Empecinado. Its restoration was completed in 1962.[19]

Jadraque Castle overlooking the River Henares, sometimes known as the Castle of El Cid, has four round towers and one rectangular tower. Today's perfectly proportioned palatial structure was built by Juan Guas in the 15th century but it stands on the site of a fortress used for centuries by the Moors. The outer fabric has been substantially restored but the interior is still in a state of ruin.[20]


  1. ^ Instituto Nacional de Estadística
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Antonio Herrera Casado. "Historia de la provincia de Guadalajara" (in Spanish). Editorial Mediterráneo. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  3. ^ "Historia de Guadalajara en la Edad Media" (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  4. ^ López Gómez, Antonio (1969). "El distrito minero de Hiendelaencina". Cuadernos de geografía (6): 211, 225–226. ISSN 0210-086X.
  5. ^ "Un incendio asola el noreste de Guadalajara y se cobra la vida de 11 personas". El Mundo (in Spanish). 18 July 2005. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  6. ^ Statesman's yearbook. Macmillan. 1981. p. 1103.
  7. ^ a b Friend, P. F. (January 1996). Tertiary Basins of Spain: The Stratigraphic Record of Crustal Kinematics. Cambridge University Press. p. 267. ISBN 978-0-521-46171-9.
  8. ^ Valero, José Arturo de Juan; Álvarez, José Fernando Ortega; Martín-Benito, José María Tartajuelo (2003). Sistemas de cultivo: evaluación de itinerarios técnicos (in Spanish). Mundi-Prensa Libros. p. 40. ISBN 978-84-8476-138-9.
  9. ^ Montero, José Antonio; Aranzana, Eduardo de Juana; Barrio, Fernando (2006). Where to Watch Birds in Spain: The 100 Best Sites. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-96553-04-0.
  10. ^ Swaay, Chris van; Warren, Martin (2003). Prime butterfly areas in Europe: priority sites for conservation. Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries. p. 7. ISBN 9789072578242.
  11. ^ Ordenanzas de la Junta de Comunidades de Castilla - la Mancha (in Spanish). MAD-Eduforma. 7 February 2003. p. 20. ISBN 978-84-665-2332-5.
  12. ^ Historia, clima y paisaje: Estudios geográficos en memoria del profesor Antonio López Gómez (in Spanish). Universitat de València. 2004. p. 323. ISBN 978-84-370-5864-1.
  13. ^ Aguirre, José Angel García de Cortázar y Ruiz de; Duarte, José Ignacio de la Iglesia (1995). V Semana de Estudios Medievales: Nájera, 1 al 5 de agosto de 1994 (in Spanish). Gobierno de La Rioja, Instituto de Estudios Riojanos. p. 92. ISBN 978-84-87252-45-7.
  14. ^ "El Castillo" (in Spanish). Atienza. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  15. ^ "Castillo de Sigüenza" (in Spanish). Turismo Castilla-La Mancha. Archived from the original on 2 October 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  16. ^ "Its history, its legens and its curiosities" (in Spanish). The Castle of Sigüenza. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Parador Hotel Siguenza". ParaPromotions. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Molina de Aragon Castle". Official Website of Molina and the Alto Tajo. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Castillo de Torija" (in Spanish). Turismo Castilla-La Mancha. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  20. ^ "Castillo de Jadraque / Castillo del Cid" (in Spanish). MonumentalNet. Archived from the original on 26 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014.