The coat of arms of a city can tell us a lot of interesting things, and it’s something we often forget. In the one of Guadalajara, without going any further, there is a knight with a shining armour in command of his troops. He is at the gates of a walled city, and it looks like he is getting ready to conquer it in the middle of the night.
Well, that gentleman is Alvar Fáñez and that night is the one of June 24, 1085, the date on which, according to tradition, the kingdom of Castile snatched Guadalajara from the Arabs.
The city had been dominated by the Muslims for centuries, but it was not precisely in peace. It had been amid several fights for power between clans, and it had been thoroughly fortified in the ninth century with the construction of a citadel of which there are still remains.
Also standing is the Tower of Alvar Fáñez, called this way because, according to the legend, the knight entered through that gate the night of the conquest. And, although we do not want to disappoint you, the truth is that this is unlikely. More than anything because the tower was built in the fourteenth century when Alvar was six feet underground and not able to conquer much.
Another medieval tower well worth seeing is the Alamín, also a vestige of the walls of that warlike Guadalajara.
However, the most surprising building in the city was to be erected during the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. By then, the Mendoza family was in charge of things, and by order of one of its members, Iñigo López de Mendoza y Luna, the Palacio del Infantado would be built. A spectacular building designed in the late fifteenth century by the master Juan Guas, which is the most significant architectural jewel of the town.
Guadalajara did well in that Renaissance period. Other outstanding monuments were built, such as the Palace of Antonio de Mendoza, the one of Dávalos or the one of La Cotilla a little later. But that splendour of nobility did not last forever, of course. Guadalajara had to go through some periods of crisis, such as the one that arrived at the beginning of the nineteenth century and for which Napoleon´s beloved soldiers were very much to blame.
Once the Civil War started the area was severely punished thanks to its proximity to Madrid. But as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, that proximity was the primary cause of the reconstruction and expansion of Guadalajara when it was included in development plans as a decongestion area of Madrid.
An interesting city, capital of an attractive province. To prove it, all you have to do is come, take a walk and enjoy …