Palacio Ducal, Plaza de la Hora, Pastrana, Tel: 949 37 06 72 (closed Mon).
This vast stretch of undulating olive groves and fields east of Guadalajara is still evocative of Camilo José Cela’s classic book Journey to the Alcarria . Driving through the rolling hills, it seems that little has changed since this account of the hardship of Spanish rural life was written in the 1940s.
Towards the centre of the Alcarria are three immense, adjoining reservoirs called the Mar de Castilla (Sea of Castile). The first reservoir was built in 1946, and holiday homes have subsequently sprung up close to the shores and on the outskirts of villages.
Historic Pastrana , 45 km (28 miles) southeast of Guadalajara, is one of the prettiest towns in the Alcarria. The town developed alongside the Palacio Mendoza , and by the 17th century was larger and more affluent than Guadalajara. The Iglesia de la Asunción contains four 15th-century Flemish tapestries and paintings from El Greco’s school.
Brihuega , 30 km (19 miles) northeast of Guadalajara, has a pleasant old centre.