Category Archives: Don Quixote

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.