When I went to the waterfalls of the Aljibe I drove past a little village I had never heard of before – Tamajón, and a side sign reading “Pequeña Ciudad Encantada de Tamajón”. The term “Cuidad Encantada”, meaning Enchanted or Magic City, is used in Spanish to refer to karst formations. Karst is the name of a particular topography, created by the dissolution and chemical weathering of soluble rocks, chiefly but not just limestone.
The particular Spanish karst landscapes were formed by precipitation of salts – calcium carbonate – in the quiet waters of the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic Era (251-66 million years ago). Plate tectonics made central Spanish arise during the Cretaceous (the later subdivision of the Mesozoic, 140-66 million years ago) emerge, and the calcium carbonate became exposed to the elements, which started the erosion process. The most famous karst landscape in Spain is the Ciudad Encantada near Cuenca, which I guess spread the name.
Tamajón has a short hiking route around its karst formation, and while it is true that they are on the relatively smaller size, there are different shapes. I started my hiking route at the Ermita de la Virgen de los Enebrales, hermitage church dedicated to the Virgin of the Juniper Forest – the current building was reformed in the Renaissance style, thought the actual dates are shaky.
I started on the hiking route from the hermitage, along the road, and there were no markings there, so I kind of winged it for a while. After I took the first turn and started going up the rocks, I found the painting marking the routes – I had a handmade map because someone had shared it online, so I just went along it, and when I finished I redid about a fourth of it to take a detour to the other side of the road. There are cracks, arches, caves, cavities and capricious forms. I spent about an hour and a half walking around almost completely alone, which was awesome.
On my way back I stopped by the Church of the Assumption Iglesia de la Asunción, also a Romanesque – Renaissance mixture. The porch is typical of Romanesque churches in the Camino de Santiago (St. James’ Way), to shelter pilgrims.
As it was still early and I was relatively close, instead of driving home I headed off to another village called Cogolludo. I parked the car at the edge of the village and walked towards the main square, where there is a famous Renaissance palace Palacio de los Duques de Medinaceli. It is considered the first Renaissance Palace built in Spain, and it is reported to have been finished in 1492. The palace was designed by Lorenzo Vázquez de Segovia, with exquisite decoration, and the blaring lack of towers, which were very popular at the time. If I’m ever in the area again I might want to try to see the interior, which is only open in the guided visits.
The Palace stands in the main square Plaza Mayor which has a typical Castilian arcade with stone columns (unfortunately workers, sun and cars made it hard to take a good picture of it).
Cogolludo has two churches, Iglesia de Santa María de los Remedios (Our Lady of Remedies) and Iglesia de San Pedro (Saint Peter), both dating from the 16th century, but both completely closed down.
Finally, there are also the ruins of the Medieval Castle Castillo de Cogolludo, but there was not much incentive to climb up. All in all, it was a short but interesting morning – though I glad I teamed the two visits up, going to Cogolludo on its own would have not felt productive.
Driven distance: around 115 km
Walking distance: 7.27 km