“Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago…. (Opening line from Don Quixote by Cervantes)
The “place of La Mancha” is a town called Argamasilla de Alba and it is only about 8km from Tomelloso. Located in this town, there is an unassuming house with a modern facade consisting of the typical features from La Mancha traditional architecture. The house, called, Casa de Medrano hardly reveals the treasure it shelters, a humble and rustic cave, or the place better known as Cervantes’ Prison. It is here Cervantes’ prolific mind conceived Don Quixote, the most influential work from the Spanish Golden Age and one of the greatest works of fiction ever published. Since there are no records of Cervantes’ time in prison it is impossible to tell how long he spent there. In the actual prison there wasn’t really much to see, but how could there be. It’s more for the experience of visiting the birthplace of one of the greatest novels of all time. And it was pretty cool. I’m sure I had a better time than he did.
“And what, then, could this sterile, ill tilled wit of mine beget but the story of a dry, shriveled, whimsical offspring, full of thoughts of all sorts and such as never came into any other imagination- just what might be begotten in a prison, where every misery is lodged and every doleful sound makes its dwelling.” (Excerpt from the prologue of Don Quixote)