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After Franco's death in 1975 Spain quickly made the transistion to a democratic state.
Under the new Constitution of 1978  autonomous communities were formed, among them Castilla la Mancha with Toledo as its capital.
The southern and largest part of the autonomous community is La Mancha, located on a harsch but fertile plateau. In summer the temperatures can easily reach 40 degees and It is in this simmering climate that Servantes situated his famous story of Don Quixote.
Castilla la Mancha has a long and rich history. It was part of Roman Hispania till the Visigoths took Iberia and in the 8th century made Toledo their capital.
Then the Moors conquered the land and held on to it till deep in the 12th century when they were finally defeated by Alfonso VIII.
During the Spanish Civil War the region saw its share of violence and bloodshed, notably at Guadalajara where Mussolini's volonteer army was dealt a devastating blow by the Republicans.
Toledo is a real medieval gem loaded with history and culture and very well worth the visit.
If you feel like Don Quixote and want to fight some windmill, head strait for Consuegra, where they have 12 of these giants lined up and waiting for you.
To the south, the Lagunas de Ruidera are of a surreal and quiet natural beauty.
Lagunas de Ruidera