The Weekly Don Quixote

You can’t escape him in Toledo. Nor his potbellied sidekick. It’s hard to believe that he’s merely a figment of the imagination of a bloke who copped it 397 years ago.

I challenge any of you to come up with the name of your very own great grandfather (just one of them will do!), and tell me something – anything! –  about his life.  I bet most of you can’t. Well, I can’t 😉 But a fictional character, who featured several hundred years ago in what literary boffins consider to be ‘the first modern novel’, lives on, conjuring up notions of futile quests, unattainable maidens and images of menacing windmills in every mind in the Western world.

The sign to look out for if you're following Don Quixote's Route

The signpost to look out for if you’re following Don Quixote’s Route

I bump into him at every street corner, in shops, in restaurants; even my dentist’s surgery harbours a wooden carving of him on the shelf below the coat hooks. The reason for his omnipresence in Toledo is that the town lies on the ‘Route of Don Quixote’, where the hapless knight was meant to have jangled along, clad in rusty armour, perched on his rickety steed Rocinante.

So, I thought, a little homage won’t go amiss. I’m going to post an image of him every week, until I run out of photo opps, which, I have a feeling, won’t be happening any time soon.  Because he’s everywhere! … did I mention that…?

A statue of Miguel De Cervantes, author of "El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha". Cervantes lived in Toledo, and he died on the very same day as William Shakespeare, 22 April 1616.

A statue of Miguel De Cervantes, author of “El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha”. Cervantes was born in 1547 in Alcalá de Henares, in what was back then the kingdom of Toledo. He died on 22 April 1616 and was buried a day later, which was the day William Shakespeare died. This prompted UNESCO to declare April 23rd the ‘International Day of The Book’.

So, below I give you this week’s inaugural image of Don Quixote  (or Don Quijote de la Mancha in proper Spanish), gracing a Toledo shop window, proudly holding onto his lance. You may notice that there are also two smaller bronze versions by his feet, and, of course, trusty old Sancho Panza, the farmer he roped in to be his squire. Where would he be without him…?!  (“Panza”, if you’re curious, means “paunch” or “potbelly”.)

Don Quijote Y Sancho Panza

As an aside, and if you think your retinas can take it, go take a look at the worst tourist tat that Toledo has to offer. It’s truly horrific!

And if you’re wondering what the deal is with the swords, I’ll tell you as soon as you click here.

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17 thoughts on “The Weekly Don Quixote

  1. Rosemarie

    And if you go to Mexico, the city of Guanajuato has adopted him as well. There is a museum there devoted only to works of art featuring Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They also have an annual music festival bearing the name Festival Cervantino.

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  2. gkm2011

    Luckily I do know my great grandfather’s name and profession and the fact he used to chew cigars and built our family’s summer home. I hope he continues to be remembered for as long!

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      What about the other three…? LOL, I shouldn’t push it…
      I only know a few things about one of my grandfathers, all of them despicable. No clue as to his first name, and I don’t really want to know either 😦

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  3. restridge

    I found your blog through Freshly Pressed, and I love it! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, by the way.

    I’m living in Japan right now, and I thought you might like to know that there is a chain discount store called Don Quixote (ドンキホーテ) here. Every time I visit a store, I look for the windmill section, but I never find it.

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