1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alcázar de San Juan

ALCÁZAR DE SAN JUAN, or Alcázar, a town of Spain, in the province of Ciudad Real, in the plain of La Mancha, at the junction of the Madrid-Manzanares and Madrid-Albacete railways. Pop. (1900) 11,499. Owing to its position on two important railways, Alcázar has a flourishing transit-trade in the wines of Estremadura and Andalusia; the soda and alkali of La Mancha are used in the manufacture of soap; and gunpowder, chocolate and inlaid daggers are also made here. Alcázar is sometimes identified with the Roman Alce, captured by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus in 180 B.C. It derives its existing name from its medieval Moorish castle (al-kasr), which was afterwards garrisoned by the knights of St John. The townsfolk contend that the great Cervantes was a native of Alcázar; and, although this claim must be disallowed, much of the action of his masterpiece, Don Quixote, takes place in the neighbourhood. El Toboso, for instance, a village 12 m. E.N.E. [pop. (1900) 1895], was the home of the Lady Dulcinea del Toboso; Argamasilla de Alba (3505), 22 m. S.E., is declared by tradition to be the birthplace of Don Quixote himself. Local antiquaries even identify the knight with Don Rodrigo de Pacheco, whose portrait adorns the parish church; and the same authorities hold that part of the romance was written while Cervantes was a prisoner in their town. An edition of Don Quixote was published at Argamasilla in 1864.