The village of Quixote’s giants
The novel might have started in any way, but Cervantes chose to omit the name of the main character’s birthplace. In its place, he decided that the first sentence of Don Quixote had to start with “Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember...”. Little is known about why the writer refused to reveal the name of the town where Don Quixote was born. What we do know is that the result of his decision was that, since the book was published, many villages in La Mancha have disputed the honour of being the home place to one of the most illustrious characters of universal literature.
In some, the local authorities and the inhabitants themselves have even insisted on turning to texts written at the time and comparing them with the book to try to demonstrate their theory. However, to date none of the conclusions of these studies has been sufficiently solid for experts in Cervantes to recognise any of these villages as the birthplace of Don Quixote.
The same does not happen with other villages that Cervantes also refused to mention explicitly, despite being the stage for one of the most popular passages of the book: the battle that Don Quixote waged against a band of terrible giants that only existed in his imagination.
Students of Cervantes’s work seem to agree on Campo de Criptana as the place where Don Quixote fought against mills that he had mistaken for “cowards and vile creatures”. The key to this agreement is given by the writer himself at the beginning of chapter VII, when he described the adventure and says, “At this point they caught sight of thirty or forty windmills which were standing on the plain…”.
The place therefore had to be Campo de Criptana, as only this village in Ciudad Real had such a number of windmills at the time, as proven by documents from the time such as Las Relaciones Topográficas de Felipe II (The Topographical Studies of Philip II) from the year 1575, and other later documents such as the Catastro de Marqués de la Ensenada (Cadaster of the Marquess of la Ensenada) (1756).
Today, of these three or four tens of windmills, hardly ten remain, and of these only three, those known as Burleta, el Infanto and el Sardinero, are of the same time as Don Quixote. Which of these might have turned him over with its blades?
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