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Ciudad Real - IntroductionYou only have to see the first windmill and the first sign saying “There is cheese here” to know that you are in La Mancha. It is because these lands are unmistakable; exactly as Cervantes painted them in Don Quijote, they are the same now as they were then.
This is a province famous for its wine (Valdepeñas) and cheese, for its windmills and castles, volcanos and prehistoric caves and also its nature, being the only Spanish province with two NATIONAL Parks.
From the provincial capital, Ciudad Real, there are a multitude of possibilities to get to know this province, immortalised in the work of Cervantes , “Don Quijote.” In the region of Campo de Calatrava is Almagro, well known for its open air comedy amphitheatre (National Monument) and its International Festival of Classical Theatre.
Campo de Calatrava also has volcanos, castles, palaces and places of great historic-artistic importance such as El Viso del Marqués, Almuradiel or Calzada de Calatrava. Alternatively, in the region of Campo de Montiel, you can discover the mediaeval remains of Montiel, the Parque Natural de las Lagunas de Ruidera, and places such as Villanueva de los Infantes and Villamanrique.
The natural and scenic richness of this province is patently seen in two important natural parks,the Cabañeros and the Tablas de Daimiel. Meditarranean forests accompanied by pastures and wetlands right in the steppes of La Mancha make up most of this protected space.
PatrimonioThis is a province rich in historical legacy. From the Neolithic period the schematic paintings of Fuencaliente (the prehistoric cave of Peña Escrita) in a shelter of the Sierra Morena, are striking; from the Bronze Age the motilla of Azuer in Daimiel and its associated culture are striking, the village of Bienvenida in Valle de Alcudia or the hill of Cerro de las Cabezas in Valdepeñas.
There are also the constant Oretan and Carpetan villages – with centres in Oreto (Granátula de Calatrava) and Toletum (Toledo) respectively-, both agricultural , farming and warrior villages, judging by the utensils which they left and which are now displayed in the Provincial Museum in Ciudad Real.
With the arrival of the Romans a long process of conquest begun and later a cultural legacy was left where such interesting remains as those of Sisapo -in La Bienvenida, a village of Almodóvar del Campo-, Alces or the current palace Alcázar de San Juan, Almadén, Carcuvium or Cararcuel and Laminium were left behind.
The Visigoths arrived at the turn of the 5th century BC and in the century which followed they established their base in Toledo, although there is scant proof for their presence south of the Tajo. One of those few examples is the establishment of an ecclesiastical diocese in Oreto. Afterwards, the Muslims arrived in the 8th century, predominantly the Berbers, whose traces remain mostly in forts around the main raods for communication, of which the best example is Calatrava la Vieja, in Carrión de Calatrava.
Located 8 kilometres from the provincial capital on the road to Piedrabuena is the Archaeological Park and the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Alarcos.
CastlesThe majority of the castles and forts in the province of Ciudad Real, as in so many other places in Spain, have thier origins in the Reconquest. If the area between the Duero and the Tajo was the friction zone in the 10th century, and that between the Tajo and the Guadiana that of the 11th, throughout the 12th century the battles, raids and tensions were especially seen in the Guadiana area. This caused curious situations to arise, such as the fact that, for a while, the castle in Calatrava was defended by the Christian monks of Calatrava, while the neighbouring castle of Salvatierra, a few hundred metres away, was in the hands of the Almohades.
During these battles two military orders took on special importance, those being that of Calatrava and that of San Juan who received large extensions of their territories from the monarchs as thanks for their services in this phase of the Reconquest. Because of this, in the Field of Calatrava and San Juan there are numerous castles of both factions. Amongst them, the most striking are the Calatrava la Nueva (Aldea del Rey), Calatrava la Vieja (Carrión de Calatrava), Salvatierra, Bolaños de Calatrava and Alcázar de San Juan.
Don QuijoteOne of the most characteristic itineraries of La Mancha is the Don Quijote Trail, which goes through the places and villages which best define La Mancha architecture.
The immortal Cervantine Trail meets in La Mancha a mirror of inland Spain, the ideal scenario for the exploits of this universal knight, who never loses heart as his ideals, time after time, crash into the miserable reality of a mediocre world.
Many of Cervantes characters were natives of these places, and they play a part in many of the adventures that follow the ungainly Quijote.
There is Puerto Lápice, where the sale which Cervantes immortalized in his work can be foound, called precisely the “ Venta de Don Quijote ” could very well be the armory of the Caballero Hidalgo manchego .); Campo de Criptana: A picturesque village in which the famous windmills confused with giants by Quijote are housed. Of the 34 recorded by the Marques de la Ensenada in 1752, less than a dozen still stand, in varying states of conservation. However, the ascent to Cerro de la Paz, where many stand with pride, is a must visit for every traveller, and then there is ARGAMASILLA DE ALBA, It is a typical La Mancha village, closely realted to the world of Cervantes, but there are also two buildingswhich commemorate parts of Quijote – The Cave of Medrano , a rustic cave identified according to tra dition as the prison where Miguel de Cervantes thought of and began to elaborate on his immortal Don Quijote de la Mancha;
Villanueva de los Infantes, This is the place in La Mancha where it is supposed that Don Quijote lived four centuries ago – but which Cervantes did not want to reveal. It has been declared a historical landmark for being an important enclave of the Renaissance and the Baroque. Dotted with churches, monasteries and ancestral homes, such as the home of D. Diego de Miranda, who, according to tradition, was the famous Knight of the Green Coat (Caballero del Verde Gabán), whose deeds Cervantes sometimes ascribed to Don Quijote.
Accomodation in the Province of Ciudad Real
- Hotels in the Province of Ciudad Real
- Rural Houses in Ciudad Real
NatureThe most striking aspect is the accumulation of protected areas, being the only Province in Spain with two national parks -Cabañeros y Las Tablas de Daimiel-, . .....And if you like sport and adventure a must visit is "El Chorro", a waterfall of more than 15 metres in the municipal district of Los Navalucillos (inside the enlarged National Park of Cabañeros).
NO less important are the Nature Park of the Lagunas de Ruidera, the Nature Reserve of the lagoon complex of Alcázar de San Juan, and diverse Natural Monuments which protect volcanic geoforms. The volcanic examples are between one and eight million years old and have very interesting formations, as much for the quantity of examples as for their typological variety.
The rural part of Ciudad Real offers the visitor, in additon to tranquility, amazing scenes for all those interested in sporting or active tourism, such as hiking, cycling, equestrian trails, canoeing, rock climbing, bungee jumping, paragliding… not forgetting hunting and fishing; alternating these activities with ecotourism and cultural tourism which allows the visitor to get to know, preserve and respect nature in addition to contemplating the large quantity of artistic, archaeological, historical, ethnographic and folkloric resources of the different regions of the Autonomous Community.
CIUDAD REALLocated in the Field of Calatrava, a place dominated by numerous hills, is Ciudad Real which offers a modern design which has managed to retain all of its La Mancha flavour. It has good communications, thanks to the high speed AVE train between Madrid and Seville, and also offers exceptional gastronomy centred on hunting, cheese and wine. In addition the National Parks of Cabañeros and Tablas de Daimiel tell of the richness of their ecosystems.
Four kilometres of walls and one hundred and thirty watchtowers protected Ciudad Real and its integrated population of Christians, Jews and Muslims during the Middle Ages. After the unification of the peninsular Kingdoms under the Catholic Monarchs, Ciudad Real was transformed into the capital of La Mancha Province in the 17th century. This fact favoured economic development, which is captured in important constructions.
Amongst its most significant monuments the following stand out - the Gate of Toledo, the Cathedral of Santa María del Prado, the Church of Santiago, and that of San Pedro. The surroundings of Plaza Mayor are a good place to taste the wines with Guarantee of Origin of La Mancha and of Valdepeñas, accompanied well with some portions of cheese from the region.
GASTRONOMYRatatouille, asadillo, crumbs, porridge, galianos (a type of La Manch gazpacho soup) and lamb stew complete the range of gastronomy. Tiznao (a dish of flaked cod, dry roasted peppers, garlic, onions, oil and water) is an ancestral recipe, very interesting, amazing for its great flavour. Manchego cheese is a marvel which completeses any meal and gives with its flavour an excellent banquet.
The traditional Ciudad Real desserts should not be forgotten, topped by bizcocha cake, French toast, La Mancha cream and honey cakes, Valdepeñas cones, grape jam, Ciudad Real doughnuts, and friars ears cakes from Campo de Criptana. The tradition remains of accompanying one of these sweets with a small cup of mistella, a sweet strong wine from the region itself.
In Ciudad Real, which is the Spanish province with most hectares of vineyards and the largest range of grape growing in the entire world, there are two Guarantee of Origin products, these being La Mancha and Valdepeñas. Red and light white wines are produced and consumed young, at one or at most two years, although the latest trends appear to show a future more and more of slightly older wines. The restaurant of Mesón el Corregidor, in Almagro, which has one sun in the CAMPSA restaurant guide, is a fitting place for every person who wishes to taste La Mancha cuisine, adapted to modern tastes. Miami Park, recommended by the CAMPSA guide, in Ciudad Real city, is a good reference point for those who like creativity, whereas the Venta La Alquería, in Valdepeñas, also recommended by the CAMPSA guidetambién recomendado por la guía CAMPSA, offers great culinary quality.
CIUDAD REAL PROVINCE, Spain. Travel guide and travel information for the province of CIUDAD REAL, Spain. SOL Spain On Line.
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