Set amidst the hills of Castilla-La Mancha province is Ciudad Real. The city is located along the high-speed train route that connects Madrid and Seville, making it a popular alternative for a day trip from either side. During the Middle Ages, Ciudad Real was entirely protected by four kilometres of walls and hundreds of towers. Among the remaining features is the Puerta de Toledo. Beyond this, you'll find many iconic churches and incredible natural surroundings, such as Cabañeros and Las Tablas de Daimiel.
Our one-day itinerary will show you the best things to do in Ciudad Real, from attractions to restaurants and events.
Start the day at Puerta de Toledo, one of the most important landmarks in the city. This 14th-century gate is the last remaining structure from the Real Alcázar of Ciudad Real. It features six arches and two square towers on each side. Keep an eye out for the coat of arms of the Castille region featured on its walls.
Walking towards the city centre, you’ll soon reach the Iglesia de Santiago. Dating back to the 14th century, the church features a mix of Romanesque and Gothic elements. It was declared a Bien de Interés Cultural in 1982. Take some time to wander inside and admire the Gothic naves and oval arches, along with the late Mudéjar and Islamic details.
Right on the edge of the old town is the Diputación Provincial de Ciudad Real, the provincial government of Ciudad Real. It’s worth capturing the building’s facade before moving on to the next stop.
Continue towards the Iglesia de San Pedro, the oldest church in Ciudad Real. Inside is the tomb of Fernando Alonso de Coca, also known as Chantre de Coca, a confessor and chaplain to the Catholic Monarchs. While you’re here, don’t miss the star-shaped vaults and the impressive alabaster altarpiece.
What started as a Romanesque shrine soon developed into a Gothic masterpiece. Among the highlights of the cathedral is the Perdón doorway, which may have been the church entrance at the time of Alfonso X. Through the centuries, the church has suffered several interventions. Inside the sacristy, you’ll find a collection of noteworthy items, including several paintings, a pax board by Becerril and a Baroque chest of drawers.
Just next to the cathedral is the Palacio Lopez Villasenor, a museum dedicated to the work of Manuel López Villaseñor, one of the greatest Spanish painters of the 20th century. Walking through the rooms, you’ll see the evolution of his artworks through the years. The building itself is a typical Manchega house from the 15th century. It was also here that Hernán Pérez del Pulgar, a Captain General and Historian at the Service of the Catholic Kings, was born in 1451.
Gasset Park is the largest green space in Ciudad Real. Visitors can follow three different itineraries based on the park’s features. The first is called “Singular Trees”, with a length of 740m, the second is called “Monuments and Sculptures” and stretches for 1000m, and the third one, “Ornamental Fountains, is also 1000m long. Pick one or take your time and follow all three of them.
The Museum Quixote pays tribute to the infamous character created by the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. This museum uses art and multimedia to create an interactive experience of Don Quixote de la Mancha. You’ll see movies, exhibits and several paintings made by José Jiménez Miranda, one of the best 19th-century illustrators of Don Quixote. Look out for the recreated version of a 17th-century Madrid printing press. The museum also includes the Cervantes library, which features more than 3,000 volumes.
Return to the city centre and stop by Plaza Mayor, one of the liveliest squares in the city. It is a meeting point for locals and visitors and a great spot to grab a drink in the evening. Around here is the Casa del Arco, the first Consistorial House installed in the city in the 15th century. The building suffered major damages in 1755 following the tragic Lisbon Earthquake that reached Ciudad Real. Today most people head here to see the carillon watch, inaugurated in 2005 by the princes of Asturias. The three automaton figures: Don Quijote, his companion Sancho Panza and Miguel de Cervantes come out at specific times. On the opposite side of the square is the City Hall, a somewhat controversial building which combines Neo-gothic features with Nordic influences.
Ciudad Real only has a few attractions, all of which you can explore with kids. After taking in the monuments, you can wander through the city’s parks and squares. The Gasset Park is dotted with fun sculptures and fountains, while the Plaza Mayor offers plenty of cafés where you can stop for a snack. You can also spend an afternoon at the Mystery Time Escape Room. The games are ideal for children above eight years old. If you're visiting in the summer, you can head to Playa Park, a water park complete with slides and kid-friendly swimming pools.
The cuisine in Ciudad Real is centred around game dishes like rabbit, wild boar and venison. Popular recipes include rabbit stew and hartatunos (fried potatoes and peppers). Codfish is also a top ingredient featured in dishes like the atascaburras (mashed potatoes and cod). Below are some of the best restaurants in Ciudad Real:
The best time to visit Ciudad Real is between April and June or around September and October. During these months, the weather is warm enough, and there are fewer rainy days. The hottest month is usually July when temperatures can reach 34ºC. It’s also the busiest month to visit. January, on the other hand, is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 11ºC.
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