Celts and Romans first, and Arabs and Christians later, succeeded the first inhabitants of these lands that today we know as the Monfragüe National Park, a natural space of incalculable value bathed jointly by the Tajo and Tiétar rivers, between Plasencia and Torrejón el Rubio. Craggy cliffs and endless meanders merge with the rich biodiversity of flora and fauna that can be found here, delighting visitors such as hikers who follow one of the many trails.
The route of the Castle of Monfragüe is 6.8 km long, although this figure may be higher if we have the possibility to travel it entirely from the town of Villareal de San Carlos. In this case, we start from the Fountain of the Frenchman, imagining what it would be like to cross the famous Cardinal's Bridge, which has been so busy in the past and is now hidden under water for many days. We begin the ascent towards the steep mountain range that awaits us further on, enjoying the dense forest that surrounds our path and that sometimes allows us to get a small idea of the magnificent landscape that awaits us further up. The Castle and the Hermitage of Monfragüe welcome us in their privileged vantage point from which you can see almost the entire Monfragüe National Park. Only a couple of towers remain from the castle, part of the wall that protected it and a cistern that give us an idea of the thousand battles that were fought for its dominion.
Next to it the chapel keeps the carving of the Virgin of Monfragüe, brought from Jerusalem itself in the 12th century. We descend from this fortress to discover another of the treasures kept by these lands, some ancient rupestrian paintings that tell us about the first inhabitants of Monfragüe. A quick descent ahead of us will take us to the road that will lead us partly to the well-known Viewpoint of the Jump of the Gypsy. This canyon through which the Tagus River runs surprises the visitor not only by the singular shapes of the cliffs that flank it or by the beauty of its landscape, but also by the rich biodiversity that it contains, in the form of a varied mixture of plant species and, of course, a large number of rock birds that have chosen these cliffs to live in. From here we start to walk along the river bank to look at it once more before finishing the route when we arrive again at the Fountain of the Frenchman, from where we started before.
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Legend has it that in this region, in not too remote times, there was a fearsome gypsy who would assault any merchant who passed by to steal his precious merchandise. One cold morning, the fearsome bandit assaulted two careless merchants who, upon seeing him, broke away from their possessions and ran away like a soul that carries the devil. The gypsy, confident of his safe plunder, took his time to check the value of the stolen goods without noticing the arrival of two civil guards who were ready to stop him. On seeing them, the gypsy started a desperate escape through the mountains with the guards on his heels, certain of his capture, since he was heading towards the cut-off peaks of Peña Falcón. The gypsy, desperate for the place he was heading for and with no intention of being caught, accelerated his race even more until he reached the enormous cliffs of the narrow gorge where, instead of slowing down, he jumped in a singular jump that took him surprisingly, from stone to stone, to the other side of the Tajo River, thus saving himself from the safe capture of the guards who, on the other side of the river, were incredulous witnesses to the gypsy's mockery, happy with his surprising escape.
To get to Villareal de San Carlos we have to follow the EX-208 road that joins Plasencia, Torrejón el Rubio and Trujillo. There are other roads, such as the one that crosses the Monfragüe National Park from east to west from La Bazagona, a town located next to the highway that connects Plasencia with Navalmoral de la Mata. Once you are there, a little further ahead on the same EX-208 road, you will find a parking area as soon as you cross the bridge over the Tajo river from Plasencia. If you are coming from Torrejón el Rubio, you will find it just before crossing the bridge, which is where this trekking route through the Monfragüe National Park begins.
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We are on a route that runs through a national park so we will have to take into account the specific rules that they have on pets. Pay attention to traffic at intersections and road sections.
It is important to bring water and food because although the route is not very demanding, you will surely need it, especially if it is hot. It is also not a good idea to let him take a dip in the river no matter how calm it is.
It is very likely that we will meet some of the animals that live in the park and not only the birds that fly over us, not to bother them or to approach them are guidelines that are within the rules of the park.
As soon as we cross the long bridge over the Tajo River, provided we arrive from Villareal de San Carlos of course, we will find the car park from where this trekking route through the Monfragüe National Park begins.
On the other side of the road, always with the river on our left, next to the famous Fountain of the Frenchman (0h 00min), begins the path that we must follow.
For the moment, a few comfortable stairs serve to save the earthen slope, leaving behind us the fountain and the path that leads to the Cardinal's Bridge, which is normally hidden under the water.
We gain height by leaving an alternative detour to our left. We advance without major complications gaining height with every step while following the wide trail that guides us.
The unevenness is not negligible, although with the proper calm it does not pose major problems. The route is always marked with red marks and runs through the thick forest. These marks and the footpath do not give you many options.
Once again, we will come across a section equipped with stairs, especially on the more stony parts of the route.
Soon the slope gives us a bit of a break by decreasing its inclination and allowing us to advance more easily.
The height gained allows us, when the vegetation considers it appropriate, to enjoy magnificent views. There is still a lot of unevenness to overcome in order to climb the cliffs where the hermitage and the castle of Monfragüe await us.
For this reason, the trail recovers its slope, although these ramps alternate with small breaks where we can catch our breath. We continue to advance, observed by the silhouette of the castle's keep.
The cliffs we are heading for are getting closer and closer, and our trail starts with the typical zigzagging that will help us overcome the final slope.
This area, although somewhat wilder, should not put us in any great difficulty either. The trail continues to climb protected now by a wooden railing.
The proximity to the rocky outcrop is becoming more and more noticeable, but the state of the route reduces any complications that might arise, always under normal conditions of course.
The stairs carved in the rock allow us to overcome the steepest areas of the route.
Our trail seems to approach the final part of the ascent marked by the union with another of the trails that cross Monfragüe.
This final part of the ascent is even more adapted and civilized than any other since it has a footbridge that replaces the trail.
The walls of the castle welcome us to it as we overcome the last meters of the climb.
Once at the top, there are several options to enter the Castle and the Hermitage of Monfragüe (1h 00min).
On the other side of the walls, the homage tower, which watched us upon our arrival, a magnificent viewpoint and, of course, the Monfragüe hermitage await us.
Once we have visited the site and enjoyed the spectacle it offers, we will set off, without changing sides, towards the steep stairs where we will descend.
Stairs that both for us who will be going down them and especially for those who will be going up them, it is better to take it easy.
Once finished, we only have to walk the short stretch of road that leads to the asphalted track where we will continue.
This road will take us straight to our next stop.
But first, if we have previously requested permission, we can make a detour a few metres to see the rupestrian paintings that are preserved here. On the way back, we will only have to follow the course marked out by the asphalt.
A little before reaching the bottom we will have the possibility to follow a short shortcut that will avoid the long curve that draws the road.
This shortcut takes us directly to the Fountain of La Teja car park (1h 15min).
Once there we will not need, at least for the moment, to step on the asphalt again if we want to, since next to the road begins the trail that will guide us in this part of the route.
This trail follows the course of the main road, not far from it, but far enough.
Above our heads, watching us as before, the unmistakable silhouette of the castle we have just visited.
The trail leads us without giving us any option to turn off, to the encounter with the road we were following closely. Once on it, on its left side we will have a walkway that separates us from the traffic.
The steep rocky walls, populated by birds that fly over them tirelessly, warn us of the proximity of our next objective.
After leaving the corresponding car park behind, we will arrive at the magnificent Viewpoint of the Jump of the Gypsy (1h 35min), one of the most spectacular of all the National Park of Monfragüe.
Once we have recovered our breath, we start walking again, taking the course of the road we arrived on.
We will soon reach the end of the walkway, where the trail we must follow begins. This section runs along the banks of the River Tagus, getting quite close to it.
Once again we see ourselves advancing along a trail, this time in a worse state than the previous ones, but one that does not put many complications in our path.
The red marks, although more scarce, continue to help us.
There are sections of this part of the route where if the river has a lot of flow it is likely that it could become flooded.
The undulating trail does not give us a break, as soon as it forces us to overcome a short but remarkable ramp, as it makes us lose the height gained.
Once again we will come across sections of stairs that will make it easier for us to overcome some of the steep slopes we will pass through.
The road that we have to get on later, runs well above our heads. The terrain in some short stretches is somewhat bare and cobbled but almost always well trodden.
There are not many possible points where we may have some doubt as to which is the way forward.
Finally, after a notable ascent, our trail will take us to a wide track that comes from the nearby road.
Once there, we will follow it in a gentle descent that will take us to a small recreational area.
After crossing it, we will find the stairs that go up to the road. There the parking of the Fountain of the Frenchman (2h 35min) waits for us, where we initiate this route of hiking that now we finish.
Total distance. 6,8 Km
Total time. 2h 15min
Doing the route in one direction or the other should not make a big difference in the time needed to cover it in its entirety. If we are lucky enough that the Cardinal's Bridge is available and we can do the whole route, it would be extended by about 6 km and 1h 30 min more approximately.
Time of year. Better with good visibility
The landscapes that will surround us along the route and the splendid views offered by the viewpoints that we will visit can be enjoyed in all their splendor if the good weather accompanies us. The fauna also plays a leading role in this trekking route, so the periods when birds or deer are at their best are also exceptional for visiting the park.
Required equipment. Don't leave the water
Although we have to go through some sources, we can't trust everything to them so it's important to bring some food and water. Otherwise, light hiking shoes and clothes suitable for this type of activity, together with walking poles and information about the route, which can be used for consultation if necessary, as well as the necessary protection against the sun, could be sufficient. Without forgetting of course the camera and binoculars that allow us to see closely the birds that fly over these cliffs. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
Slope acumulate. 576 m Slope positive. 288 m Slope negative. 288 m
Counting only and exclusively with the described route we are in front of a route whose unevenness and distance are or should be easily assumed by someone used to the hiking routes. Without large ramps, the ones we will find are concentrated almost entirely in the first part of the route, so it is essential not to get tired at the beginning. Pay attention to very hot days, they can increase the hardness of the route, do not forget to hydrate and feed yourself during the route.
Severity of the environment
Although the route is perfectly delimited and even conditioned in the points that need it, there are several aspects that we must take into account. Do not leave the marked route, be attentive to traffic at crossroads or short stretches of road and above all bear in mind the level of the riverbed next to the possibility of sudden floods of water in the stretch between Salto del Gitano and the Fountain of the Frenchman, are some of the guidelines to be taken into account.
Well signposted, it is the different marks and paths that we will find that will surely make us hesitate on more than one occasion. Even more so when there are different possibilities marked in red as they belong to the same original route. It is therefore important to be clear about the route we want to follow.
|1-Fountain of the Frenchman parking||0h 00min||231 m||0 Km||29S 753664 4413064|
|2-Castle and Hermitage of Monfragüe||1h 00min||464 m||2 Km||29S 752323 4412849|
|3-Fountain of La Teja parking||1h 15min||293 m||3,3 Km||29S 752668 4412167|
|4-Viewpoint of the Jump of the Gypsy||1h 35min||262 m||4,5 Km||29S 751783 4412860|
|5-Fountain of the Frenchman Parking||2h 15min||231 m||6,8 Km||29S 753664 4413064|
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
This sketch of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 623-3, 623-4, 651-1 y 651-2, 1:25.000"
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems with the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
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¿Did you know that...
The fortress of Monfragüe was built by the Arabs, after conquering these lands, on the ruins of an old Celtic fortified post, taking advantage of its strategic location which gives it great visibility over the surrounding territory.
Don't miss out...
The Water Interpretation Centre that you will find in Villareal de San Carlos, in it, besides a wide model of the park you will be able to discover and understand better the importance that water has in the perfect ecosystem of Monfragüe.
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This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 01-10-2016. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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