The capital city of the Ciudad Real Province in the region of Castilla-La Mancha, Ciudad Real has a population of around 75,000 inhabitants. The region is perhaps best known for the work of fiction by Cervantes, who depicted the travails of Don Quixote de la Mancha. A Don Quixote Museum is located in the historic city centre. Just an hour away from Madrid and its Barajas Airport by high-speed AVE train, the city has begun to develop as a long-distance suburb of the Spanish capital, as well as offering its own range of cultural attractions.
Ciudad Real is an urban centre focused on business development, tourism and services, construction, industry and agriculture. Wines from La Mancha and Valdepeñas are produced for both domestic and export markets, while the region also has two national parks: Cabañeros and Las Tablas de Daimiel.
The city benefits from a dynamic young population, and its location at the crossroads of the railway network—notably the Madrid-Seville AVE link—and the road links to Andalusia makes it an important railway hub. Its proximity to Madrid attracts cultural and also culinary tourism—Ciudad Real has a reputation for gastronomy based on local game, cheeses and dishes made from the local variety of aubergines. The rail link has also made it popular as a conference and convention centre, with the Quixote Ciudad Real Convention Bureau being the latest addition. Its old town area features many squares and noteworthy churches, some dating back to the 13th century.