Ciudad Real information

Introduction to the Province of Ciudad Real
The land-locked province of Ciudad Real, in the heart of La Mancha country, south of Madrid, is one that is all too often sped through by travellers on their way south to the coast or north to Madrid. This is no doubt due to the fact that, at first glance, Ciudad Real is a vast expanse of arid and sparsely populated plateau. But if you dig a little deeper and are prepared to venture off the beaten track, Ciudad Real does offer some real gems for the tourist, as well of course its literary history associated with Cervante’s book, Don Quixote, famously set in La Mancha.

Ciudad Real City
The capital city, Ciudad Real, is a fine place to base yourself for an exploration of the province. Due to its new high-speed train (AVE) link with Madrid it has now become a commuter suburb for Madrid. But it is a thriving, modern university city in its own right and also has some historic places of interest and sights all of its own.

In the Middle Ages, Ciudad Real was surrounded by 4km of walls and over a hundred towers, nowadays only a little of these fortifications remain and can be seen at the solid-looking Puerta de Toledo, a Mudejar gateway in the north of the city.

The 14th Century Gothic church, the Iglesia de San Pedro is probably the finest church in the city. The accolade of oldest church in Ciudad Real goes to the 13th Century Iglesia de Santiago, which has a beautifully decorated ceiling.

Of course a stay in Ciudad Real wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Don Quixote Museum, which you’ll find beside the Parque de Gasset. The museum has artwork displays relating to the book and its author and also multimedia exhibitions. Check the museum’s website though because at the time of writing (June 2011) the museum was temporarily closed for reform

Around Ciudad Real City and Beyond
Venturing out into the dry, dusty province of Ciudad Real may not seem an enticing prospect, particularly in the heat of summer, but make the effort and you will be rewarded with some fine sights and, of course, some very fine wines.

The town of Almagro, 20km east of Ciudad Real, is a real gem. Wander through its pleasant street and admire all the elegant houses. Go to the Plaza Mayor with its columned sides and where you will also find the unique Corral de Comedias, Spain’s last remaining galleried theatre which is an perfectly preserved 16the Century open-air theatre, which every July plays host to a wonderful International theatre festival. There is also a theatre Museum in the town. If you’re a film buff, you may recognise some places in Almagro because it has been used as settings for many of Pedro Almodovar’s films, most notably “Volver”.

That king of Spanish film making, Pedro Almodovar was born in the Ciudad Real town of Calzada de Calatrava. There is an Almodovar Cinematographic Route that you can follow, taking you to all the places in the province that influenced him and that he employed as settings for his films.

There are plans for Europe’s biggest and grandest gambling and hotel complex in Ciudad Real. Part of the Caesar’s Palace chain it will have casinos, hotels, convention centres and a golf course. Called El Reino de Don Quixote (unsurprisingly) the project has been long-delayed thus far but Spain’s answer to Las Vegas could soon be here.

Ciudad Real is, in general, such a dry province that you may be surprised to discover that the National Park of Las Tablas de Daimiel, to the north east of Ciudad Real city, is a real oasis. The smallest of Spain’s National Park, its marshes and lagoons along the River Guadiano are home to migratory birds and breeding colonies of water birds. The Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park, north east of Valdepeñas, is another ornithological and walkers’ hot spot. September to June is the best time to visit these parks to see the most birds.

The Gastronomy of Ciudad Real
Ciudad Real’s cuisine is rich and hearty in nature. You will find rabbit, venison, wild boar, hare and partridge on the menu as well as dishes made with the aubergines for which Almagro is renowned, such as a regional version of gazpacho. Caldereta de Cordero is a typical dish and is a stew of lamb, onions, almonds and paprika. Alboronia is a vegetable stew made with aubergines, tomatoes and peppers.

Ciudad Real is just as well known for its cheeses as for its windmills. Manchego sheep’s milk cheese is loved all over Spain and beyond.

The province’s wines are also renowned, particularly those from Valdepeñas, the most prolific of Spain’s wine-growing regions.


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