Atienza is a beautiful municipality located in the province of Guadalajara. Its history dates back to ancient times, and it has witnessed many events over the centuries.
In the Middle Ages, Atienza was an important fortified square with an imposing castle that dominated the landscape. It was founded by the Romans, but it reached its maximum splendour during the time of Muslim domination.
Under Arab rule, Atienza became a strategic defensive stronghold and a thriving cultural and commercial centre. In the 11th century, the city was reconquered by Christian forces led by Alfonso VI. The Christians further fortified the town and built the castle that can still be visited today. During the Middle Ages, Atienza became an episcopal seat and an important religious centre.
In the following centuries, the town experienced periods of prosperity and decline, affected by wars and epidemics. In the 19th century, Atienza was a liberal stronghold and actively participated in the fight against the Napoleonic invasion.
Today, Atienza retains its medieval charm and its historical legacy. Its narrow cobbled streets, old churches and imposing castle attract visitors from all over the world.
The old part of the town has been declared a Historic-Artistic Site and is a living testimony to the rich history of Atienza. In addition to its historical heritage, Atienza is known for its natural beauty. Surrounded by mountains and picturesque landscapes, Atienza offers numerous opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking.
Atienza is a place with a rich history dating back to Roman and Muslim times. Its walls, castle and old town bear witness to its medieval past, while its natural beauty makes it an attractive destination for lovers of history and nature.
Top 5 places to visit in Atienza
Next, we present five spectacular places full of culture and history that cannot be missed in Atienza:
Castle of Atienza
Located on top of a hill, the imposing Castle of Atienza is one of the main attractions of the city. From its walls, one can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the surroundings.
Inside, visitors can explore the different rooms, such as the throne room, the dungeons and the keep. Located in the highest part of the town, it is undoubtedly the most representative monument of Atienza. Used by the Celtiberians and later by the Arabs, who built a strong citadel, it was reformed by the Christians after the Reconquest.
The castle changed hands numerous times between the 9th and 11th centuries. It was occupied by Alfonso III, Almanzor and Sancho García, among others, only to be definitively taken over by Alfonso I of Aragón, king consort of Castile by his marriage to Urraca I. He is named in “El Cantar de Mío Cid”, which refers to him as a "very strong rock".
The Castle of Atienza impresses from a distance. Its tower, raised on a rock, is a point of reference for kilometres around. No less spectacular are the panoramic views of the Central System and the entire plateau that can be appreciated from this height.
St. John's Church
The St. John´s Church, from the 12th century but redone at the end of the 16th century in the Renaissance style, is another notable place to visit in Atienza.
Its ornate façade and impressive stained glass windows are worth admiring.
Inside, one can find magnificent altarpieces and a series of chapels with works of religious art.
The heart of the town is the Wheat Square, a lively and picturesque place where residents and visitors congregate.
Surrounded by historical buildings, the square is home to terraces of cafeterias and restaurants where one can enjoy the local gastronomy and take a break while admiring the traditional architecture.
Museum of the Holy Trinity
It is located in the Church of the Holy Trinity, from the 13th century, primitively Romanesque, a stage from which only its semicircular apse, of Segovian influence, has been preserved.
One of the main attractions of the museum is its collection of religious art. You can find carvings, altarpieces and paintings depicting biblical scenes and virgins and saints revered in the region. These works of art are a display of the religious devotion and artistic talent of the time. It also presents a section dedicated to the “Caballada de Atienza”.
Church of St. Mary of the King
The Church of St. Mary of the King dates from the year 1112, when Alfonso I of Aragon the Battler ordered the construction of this church to celebrate the expulsion of the Muslims.
It is an impressive Romanesque church that was rebuilt in the 16th century, which is located in the surroundings of the Atienza Castle.
Next to the church we find the cemetery.
Gastronomy in Atienza
The gastronomy of Atienza is a delicious combination of traditional flavours and typical dishes from Guadalajara. In this charming town, visitors can enjoy a variety of authentic dishes that reflect the rich history and local culinary culture.
One of the most emblematic dishes of Atienza's gastronomy is roast lamb. Masterfully prepared and seasoned with herbs and spices, the region's roast lamb is known for its tender and juicy flavour. It is a dish served in many of the local restaurants and is a must for meat lovers.
Another popular dish in Atienza is “caldereta de cordero”, a traditional stew combining tender pieces of lamb with seasonal vegetables and spices. This comforting dish is perfect for cold days and is served with fresh bread to dip into the tasty sauce.
For appetizers, a typical option is sheep cheese, made by hand in the region. Atienza cheese is known for its intense flavour and creamy texture. It can be enjoyed alone or accompanied by bread and local sausages.
Another dish that cannot be overlooked is the “mortaruelo”, a traditional pâté made with game meat, bread, spices and other ingredients. It is served spread on toasted bread and is a true delight for lovers of intense flavours.
For lovers of desserts, Atienza offers a variety of traditional sweets. The yolk donuts stand out. They are a sweet made with fried dough and filled with egg yolk. One can also find other desserts, such as “perrunillas”, shortbread cookies and icing sugar.
Festivals in Atienza
Atienza is full of traditions and festivities that reflect its rich history and culture. Various festivities are held throughout the year, and they attract residents and visitors alike. These festivities are special occasions to enjoy traditional music, dance, food and activities.
One of the most outstanding festivities in Atienza is Holy Week. During this religious celebration, the streets are filled with processions in which the faithful carry pasos and dress in tunics and hoods. It is an occasion to live passion and devotion collectively.
On Pentecost Sunday, a festival declared a Festival of Provincial, Regional and National Tourist Interest is celebrated, known as the “Caballada de Atienza”. This spectacular celebration consists of a procession on horseback to the hermitage of Our Lady of the Star, where a pilgrimage is held that day.
In addition to these main festivities, Atienza has smaller but significant events and celebrations throughout the year. For example, music, theatre and dance festivals highlight the region's artistic talent. Traditional fairs and markets are also held. There, you can buy local products and handicrafts.