Ciudad Real

Ciudad Real, meeting Don Quixote

Surrounded by the numerous hills of the Campo de Calatrava in the south of Castile, a university and industrial city, Ciudad Real has experienced a new economic boost since it was served by the high-speed train.

The city is divided into four main districts of which Ciudad Real is the historical centre. In the past, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived side by side, protected by 4 km of ramparts and 130 imposing towers.

It is around its Plaza Mayor that the city of Don Quixote reveals all the secrets of its manners.

Offering a local gastronomy mainly made up of game, cheeses and wines from the English Channel and Valdepeñas in its tapas bars, the Torreón district offers, like the rest of the old town, narrow streets framed by single-storey houses, typical of this part of Spain.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Prado, whose first building was built in 1088 on the same site where the Virgen del Prado appeared, offers an interesting mix of Gothic and Baroque styles, due to the long construction period.

Of Gothic origin, the oldest church in the city, Santiago, has baroque vaults and a Mudéjar roof, while the San Pedro church, with its three gates, displays the air of a fortress.

Visits and monuments of Ciudad Real

Puerta de Toledo

Dating from the fourteenth century the Toledo Gate, one of the eight gates that once gave access to the city, is a typical example of the Mudejar heritage proper to La Mancha. It has six arches and two square towers. On these walls you can still see the coat of arms of the city.

Access: Plaza de la Puerta de Toledo.

Don Quixote Museum

Art and multimedia for a tribute to the immortal Don Quixote of Cervantes. The museum’s various exhibitions are indeed dedicated to the famous novel’ Don Quixote of La Manche’.

Ten paintings by José Jiménez Aranda, one of the best illustrators of Don Quixote in the 19th century, are also featured. 3500 books related to Cervantes and a room recreating a Madrid printing works in the early seventeenth century, the period of the first impression of the novel, complete this interesting visit.

Access: Ronda de Alarcos.

Opening hours: September to June, Monday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 7:45pm, Sundays from 10am to 1:45pm. In July-August from Monday to Friday from 9am to 1:45pm, on Sundays from 10am to 1:45pm. Free admission.

Provincial Museum of Ciudad Real

The provincial museum of the city is located in the 15th century palace of Hernán Pérez del Pulgar (1451-1531), captain of the Castilian army, a native of Ciudad Real. It exhibits an important archaeological collection stretching from the Palaeolithic to modern times.

Iberian remains from the site of Alarcos hill, the gate of the ancient synagogue of Ciudad Real and the Roman mosaics of Alcázar de San Juan are found here. The natural sciences section presents fossils dating back some three million years, discovered during excavations at the Las Higuerelas site.

Access: Calle Prado, 4.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday and public holidays from 10am to 2pm and 5pm to 8pm, Sundays from 10am to 2pm. In July-August: Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 2pm.

Santa Maria del Prado Cathedral

Ancient Romanesque hermitage from the end of the 11th century, its first transformation took place during the reign of Alfonso X of Castile in the 13th century. It displays Renaissance elements, the altarpiece of the high altar, and Gothic elements with the Pardon portal. The construction of its last tower, with four carved stone bodies, was completed in the 19th century.

Access: Jardín del Pardo.

Opening hours: from Monday to Saturday from 11am to 1pm and from 6pm to 8pm. Sundays and public holidays from 11am to 11:45am and from 6pm to 8pm. Free admission.

Diocesan Museum

The museum is housed in the old episcopal palace. Its three rooms offer a broad overview of the diocesan historical and artistic heritage.

One of these rooms is entirely dedicated to the Baroque style with works from the 17th and 18th centuries. Another, images and paintings, sixteenth-century choir books and liturgical ornaments dating from the seventeenth century.

Access: Calle Caballeros, 5.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 2pm, Saturday from 10am to 12pm. Free admission.

Holy Week in Ciudad Real

Several centuries old, the Holy Week is one of Spain’s most celebrated feasts in March. In Ciudad Real, both participative and austere, of great beauty, this festive event with its pronounced baroque style counts on the collaboration of 15,000 people, especially young people and women.

On Holy Thursdays and Fridays, the oldest brotherhoods march in procession all over the city wearing religious sculptures made by famous artists, some of them dating back several centuries.

Playa Park Aquatic Park Playa Park

Located on the other side of the university campus, a few steps from downtown, this urban water park offers many activities, attractions and water games. Swimming pools, toboggans, beach, green spaces, cafeteria…

Access: Avenida de los Descubrimientos.

Opening hours: every day from 11am to 8pm.

Rates: Monday to Friday: admission: 5 €, Saturday: 8 €, Sunday: 10 €. Bracelet all attractions: 5 €.

Alcázar de San Juan

85 km northeast of Ciudad Real.

Alcázar de San Juan, in the extreme northeastern part of the province, is typical of the Channel villages, with its imposing manor houses from the 17th to the 19th century and windmills.

Famous for its carnival declared a festival of tourist interest, the city is also home to a museum, the’ Casa del Hidalgo’, which reveals the way of life and customs of the Castilian nobles who inspired Cervantes for his character of Don Quixote.

Built around the Santa María square, the centre houses several religious buildings and monuments such as the Gran Prior Palace.

Almagro

25 km southeast of Ciudad Real.

The history of Almagro, the capital of Campo de Calatrava, an ancient military-religious order of great importance in the lower Middle Ages, is intimately linked to the history of this order and the theatre, as witnessed by the National Theatre Museum and the festival dedicated to this art organized each year by the city.

As is customary in Castile, the Plaza Mayor, with its rectangular plan and bordered by stone arcades and houses with two-storey wooden balconies, is in the centre of the city. It is in its surroundings that we discover the most important monuments: the Town Hall, Corral des Cornedias and the museum dedicated to theatre.

The Corral des Comedias (16th century), declared a national historic monument, was the place where theatrical performances were played during the Spanish Golden Age (16th-18th centuries).

Valdepeñas

60 km southeast of Ciudad Real.

“With bread and wine comes the way, friend Sancho”, said Don Quixote of the English Channel to his faithful squire. A land of vineyards on the road to Andalusia, Valdepeñas has a protected designation of origin.

According to oral tradition, at a time when Valdepeñas belonged to the Taifa of Toledo, Caliph gave permission to the inhabitants to cultivate their vines and make their wines.

Arabic scriptures and a sundial on the walls of the Assumption Church still bear witness to the Muslim occupation of this region inhabited since prehistoric times. Miradors and platforms as well as vestiges dating back to the bronze age of the Motillas culture (between the 13th and 15th centuries BC) have been discovered in the territory of the commune.

The Iberian site of Cerro de las Cabezas, a fortified oppidum inhabited between the 7th and 3rd centuries BC, is also found eight kilometres from the town. The city has three museums, one of which is obviously dedicated to wine.

Santa Cruz de Mudela

75 km southeast of Ciudad Real.

Known both for its thermal spas and cutlery factories, Santa Cruz de Mudela is also rich in important religious architectural heritage. A few kilometres from the town, the Virtrud Sanctuary, which includes a 14th century hermitage adjoining a Plaza de Toros, was classified as a Historic Site in 1981.

The hermitage is covered with a Mudéjar-style roof and houses a niche and a choir with baroque decorations. The square-shaped arenas were built in 1645 and have an upper gallery consisting of a balustrade, wooden transoms and stone columns.

Ruidera

120 km east of Ciudad Real.

Ruidera is located in one of the most important lake areas of the Iberian Peninsula.

Classified as a biosphere reserve and natural park, this 25 km-long area includes lakes, waterfalls, waterfalls, lagoons and a veritable oasis in the heart of the arid plains of La Manche.

Ruidera has a large number of hotel and leisure facilities with water sports and activities. In the vicinity of Lake Rey, you can see the remains of the former powder factory built by Juan de Villanueva at the request of Charles III. Some of Don Quixote’s adventures are in this region.

Daimiel Tablas National Park

40 km northeast of Ciudad Real.

This bird paradise is formed by the overflows of the rivers Guadiana and Cigüela at their confluence. Tablas’ are bodies of water formed by these floods that place many species of birds on migratory routes as staging grounds. In this area, made attractive by the observation of waterfowl and hiking trails that cross it, there are some human constructions, in particular windmills, some of which date back to the Middle Ages.

Cabañeros National Park

60 km northwest of Ciudad Real.

In the extreme north-western part of the province of Ciudad Real, Cabañeros Park is characterized by a landscape of pastures, “dehesas”, and sierras dominated by mountainous massifs covered with Mediterranean-type scrublands and forests.

There are about forty species of large mammals such as deer, wild boar and roe deer.

Almadén Mines

110 km west of Ciudad Real.

The Almadén mines, located in the eastern part of the province, are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Almadén and Idrija mines, which have been mined since Roman times, are among the two largest mercury deposits in the world. Restored, they have been transformed into a mining park.

Strongly marked by the exploitation of mercury, the entire city was marked by the historic centre, the arenas, the former San Rafael hospital and the former prison where the convicts who worked in the mine were housed, which was taken into account in this classification by UNESCO.

The park offers a visit to its interpretation centre, where the various mining techniques and trades are explained to the public. Also on the agenda: the galleries of an underground mine dug in the 16th and 18th centuries, the’ cercos mineros’ that surrounded and protected the mine, the mercury museum and the old mining hospital.

Visits: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 2pm and 3:30pm to 6:30pm, from 4:30pm to 7:30pm afternoons from May to September. Admission: 14 €, reduced price: 12 €.



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