My dear friend Cristina and I decided to leave the city on the Friday before Easter. The location? Alarcón, a small town west of Valencia toward Madrid. The town itself is tiny, with a population of only 159 inhabitants registered in 2013. Its castle is converted into a four-star hotel, and this is a pleasant weekend trip destination for many people in Spain. The river Júcar surrounds the town on several sides, and is now a small reservoir that makes the views of Alarcón quite charming. Like much of Spain, it has changed hands several times, from Visigoths (during the reign of Alaric II between 484 and 507) to Moors (until 1177ish) to Spaniards.

The name of the town, Alarcón, now means “fortress” or “bunker”… but is also the name of the guy who recaptured the town from the Moors who inhabited the area. The king of the region, Alphonso VIII of Castile, changed the name of Ferren Martínez de Ceballos to Alarcón after a successful campaign to take the city and reestablish it as part of the Kingdom of Castile. Originally, the name meant “intelligence” and “good heart,” but has drifted to the idea of strength and protection over time. There is also a striking similarity in the name of Alaric, who may have contributed his name to the Castillian lexicon way back in the fifth century.

Like many towns in Spain, there is an authenticity and charm that quickly draws you in for a closer look. This is an excellent day trip destination, and after a pleasant picnic in a grove of trees, Cristina and I walked around the town to marvel at this historical landmark and the surrounding areas.

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