Ciudad Real is a small city in Castilla La Mancha, about the fifth largest in the province. The city associates itself heavily with Cervantes and Don Quixote although I understand there is no evidence of any real connection. For tourists there’s very little to see or do but it has a big university which is what brought me here for work.
The city was once fortified by the Moors but the only significant remnants of the walls, which apparently had 130 towers, are a couple of gates at either end of the town which have been preserved as monuments. The more impressive of the two is the Puerta de Toledo which is at the northern end of Calle Toledo.
Besides this there are a couple of churches that are mildly interesting. The oldest is the Iglesia de Santiago.
The wooden ceiling of the church has a geometric star pattern, clearly showing a Moorish influence.
In the ceiling of the apse there is a fresco of eight dragon heads, although they look rather like pigs to me.
Other than this there is very little of any architectural interest, although the town hall in Plaza Major is quite unusual.
I stayed for three nights at the Hotel NH Ciudad Real at 25 Avenida Alarcos which was fine but nothing special. Some of the staff exhibit typical Castillian severity but a couple were friendly and helpful. The breakfast is a decent spread of lots of things that very few people eat, so you don’t know how long they’ve been sitting there. The Wi-Fi is good but there are no gym facilities.
However, the hotel is well located for the centre of town and also for a long walking/jogging route out to the countryside called the Via Verde de Poblachuela. To get to it simply turn left out of the hotel and keep walking straight, through the bland Parque Gasset and along the main road. At the second roundabout (just after the Arena Quixote) you’ll see the beginning of the path in front of you. (Google map here).
The Via Verde is 5km long and will take two hours to complete from the hotel door to where the path meets the railway line, and back again. It’s part of the longer Ruta Don Quijote that goes as far as Almagro, so you could walk for much further (20km?) should you want to. There are exercise stations, picnic areas and a couple of drinking fountains along the way. The sun can be quite strong out here, even in late March, so it’s advisable to put on a bit of sun cream. There’s not much to see, just open fields, although the AVE trains sweeping past are quite impressive.
Please see my next post for places to eat in Ciudad Real.