One hundred kilometres or so south of Cuenca is the seductive medieval village of Alarcón. Flanked on three sides by the Río Júcar forming a natural moat, the approach is via a narrow road winding through three medieval defensive arches. The most famous sight here is the triangular-based Islamic castle, dating from the 8th century and captured by the Moors in 1184 after a nine-month siege. It is now a parador – one of Spain's smallest. The surrounding countryside is stunning and popular for hiking.
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