Parador de Almagro
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- Single rooms (2)
- Twin rooms (44)
- Double rooms (5)
- Room with living room (3)
- Capacity (106)
- Conference room
- Central heating
- Air conditioning
- Canal plus
- Deposit box
- Credit cards
- Currency exchange
- Swimming pool
- Disabled facilities
- Station (1km)
Parador de Almagro - 16th century convent (4*)
The Parador de Almagro offers guests the opportunity to spend the night in an enchanting former convent dating back to the 16th century and steeped in history.
This elegant and peaceful Parador is housed within the former Santa Catalina convent which was occupied by Franciscan monks from the early 17th to the 19th century. This particular Order's ethos of ‘prayer, preaching and work’ was more than a little austere. Records indicate that at midnight monks would leave their cells to begin a three-hour prayer in the church. After a short repose, bells would sound again to signal the onset of more prayer followed by mass and another prayer. At ten o’clock the monks would receive some refreshment before setting out at midday to begin a day of work as preachers in the neighbouring villages.
Today’s guests are assured of an altogether more laid-back experience and it is indeed sometimes difficult to believe that the Parador’s comfortable modern bedrooms were once monastic cells.
Among its many uses throughout history the Convent has also doubled up as a refuge for pilgrims who would pause on their travels to engage in some merriment and put on plays in an improvised theatre. The convert also served as a hospital between 1850 and 1878 before later being recovered by the Franciscan. Its current use as a Parador hotel was the result of the Franciscans decision to close the convent in 1942 due to diminishing numbers of monks.
Although in the centre of Almagro, the Parador offers serenity to its guests, the quiet of its many interior courtyards only disturbed by the sounds of fountains and the singing of birds. The hotel is also notable for its galleries and corridors, decorated with frescos, tapestries and latticework and original structures such as the Mudejar-style cloister. The style of the public rooms varies from the austerity of the Boardroom to the lavish Rococo of the Louis XV Room and the bodega-bar evoking the time of Cervantes.
The Parador also has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, allowing guests to cool off during the warmer summer months.
Almagro traces its history back to prehistoric times when local tribes engaged in and developed mining as well as basic agriculture and livestock farming. The town would then become a strategic crossroads during Roman times as the colonizers transferred troops to and from Toledo in the north. From the 13th century onwards the region witnessed continuous and fierce fighting between Christians and Moors as the area saw numerous key battles with both sides struggling for military supremacy in an area of great strategic importance. The area would also become a hotbed of clashes and confrontation between the Imperialist Throne and both the local nobility and military orders who looked to rebuff centrist tendencies.
Modern-day Almagro has several sites which highlight its historical ties with the Golden Age of Spanish theatre. A highlight of any visit for theatre enthusiasts, and arguably for anyone else, would certainly be the ‘Corral de Comedias’, a majestic open-air theatre whose galleries, stage and dressing rooms definitely merit a visit. Each year it plays host to the country’s pre-eminent International Classical Theatre festival. Almagro is also now the site of the National Theatre Museum which offers a journey through the history of Spanish theatre.
Slightly further afield, nature lovers may be interested to know that Almagro serves as an ideal base for visiting the Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park which lies 45km to the north. This is a paradise for birds and birdwatchers being strategically located on the migration routes of many species, which stop here along the way. There are three official itineraries which can be followed and visitors have the option of exploring on foot, as part of a group in off-road vehicles or even by segway.
Almagro is also well-placed for heading out into some excellent wine-making country. The town of Valdepeñas is located just 35km to the east and it boasts several renowned wineries as well as a wine museum where visitors can sample the best of the local produce.
Restaurant meal times & typical dishes
Breakfast is served from 7.30 to 11.00 and dinner from 20.30 to 23.00.
It may be possible to arrive up to 22.30 and still enjoy a meal.
The Parador de Almagro's restaurant combines tradition and quality with the aromas and flavors of an earthy cuisine. Gachas de Almorta, "Duelos y Quebrantos" (typical sweet dessert), cod prepared in the way of La Mancha and "Bizcochada de Almagro" (biscuits) "Tiznao" (cod prepared with vegetables), and "Berenjena de Almagro" (Almagro pickled eggsplant).
The Parador’s outdoor swimming pool is due to open from early-June 2016 until late-September 2016.
Please note the opening and closing dates will depend on the weather and availability of lifeguards.
How to get there
Located on the Ronda de San Francisco in the old quarter of the city, the Parador is the ideal starting point to set out on any number of routes and enjoy the urban, historic and artistic district of which it forms a part: the Plaza Mayor, the Corral de Comedias open-air theatre, the Palace of the Fúcares Family, the Municipal Theatre, and more. Following the 'Andalucia Madrid-Cadiz' highway from Manzanares, the Parador can be reached by heading towards 'Bolaños-Almagro'. Following the 'Andalucia Madrid-Cadiz' highway from Valdepeñas, head towards 'Moral de Calatrava-Almagro'. From Ciudad Real follow the N-401 national highway. Following the 'Levante' highway towards Villarrobledo, Almagro can be reached from the N-310 national highway heading towards 'Manzanares-Bolaños-Almagro'
Manzanares - 35km
Toledo - 130km
Jaen - 165km
Ubeda - 165km
Madrid Airport - 180km
Region & Cuisine
The third largest in area of Spain’s Autonomous Communities, Castilla-La Mancha is also the least densely populated region on the Iberian Peninsula with just 21 inhabitants per square kilometre. Extending from the province of Guadalajara to the north of Madrid, down through central Spain to its southern borders with Murcia and Andalusia, this is a region of dramatic landscapes and extensive plains immortalized by Miguel de Cervantes in his world-famous work Don Quijote de La Mancha.
With mountains in the north, mountains in the south, high plains in the east and two major rivers, the Guadiana and the Tajo (Tagus), traversing the region from east to west the climate of Castilla-La Mancha is diverse, to say the least. Classified as ‘Continental Mediterranean’, in general winters are cold and summers are hot, with mild temperatures prevailing in autumn and spring.
Besides Guadalajara, the four other provinces which make up this region are Toledo (the city of Toledo is the region’s capital), Albacete, Ciudad Real and Cuenca. These five cities are really the only major conurbations within this whole vast region, the rest of which encompasses hundreds of small, tranquil villages together with three of the most important nature reserves in Spain: Tablas de Daimiel and Cabañeros National Parks, and Ruidera Lagoons Nature Park. Daimiel and Ruidera are wetlands of great ecological value, rich in wildlife, in particular migratory birds. Cabañeros is representative of the authentic Mediterranean Iberian forest.
Certainly one of the region’s cities, Toledo, is an absolute must to visit. One of Spain’s great artistic treasures, Toledo towers on top of a hill protected by a bend in the Tagus river to form a natural fortress complete with moat, as it were. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Toledo’s old quarter encapsulates most of the historic sights in the city which was for many centuries the capital of Spain and known as the ‘city of three cultures’ – Christian, Islamic and Hebrew. Without a doubt the best view of Toledo is to be had from the Parador, located on a hill across the Tagus valley, preferably in early evening when the light is just magical.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the city of Cuenca, dramatically set between two steep gorges and famous for its ‘Hanging Houses’, a number of which were originally built as a palace in the 18th century but are now property of the city. Much of the area of La Mancha traversed by Don Quijote and Sancho Panza lies to the south-east of the province of Cuenca and over the border into Toledo province, and a good place to see some of the famous windmills is in the countryside near the village of Campo de Criptana.
The cuisine of the region is varied. Guadalajara provides lamb and kid, and in particular ‘morteruelo serrano’ – a delicious rich paté of blended meats. Cuenca’s dish ‘par excellence’ is its own version of morteruelo, made here with ground pork liver, game, hen, nuts and a variety of spices. Albacete is known for its gazpacho made with a crunchy flatbread, and for mountain rabbit and hare, while in Ciudad Real you will find many game dishes, several versions of ‘pisto’ (similar to ratatouille), ‘asadillo’ (roast skinned peppers and tomatoes with garlic) as well as excellent lamb stews.
Toledo was, according to Alexander Dumas, ‘the Spanish city where he had eaten the best’. The province is rich in game and the best known dishes include Toledo-style partridge, marinated boar and ‘cuchifrito’ - crunchy pieces of suckling pig – together with many kinds of sweet biscuits and cakes.
The most emblematic product from La Mancha is Manchego cheese, made in over 300 towns and villages from the milk of over half a million sheep raised on the plains. Over the last twenty years or so the quality of La Mancha wines, especially red wines, has improved dramatically and excellent wine is now produced in the region, particularly in the area of Valdepeñas.
Please be aware of the following:
- 'Special Offers' are subject to the availability of a number of rooms per night and/or a specific meal basis.
- Age restrictions apply to the 'Golden Days' Offer (for those aged 55 and over) and the 'Young Persons' Offer (for those aged between 18 and 30). All reservations made using these tariffs are checked upon your arrival at the Parador(s) booked to ensure that at least one person in a room qualifies for the restricted tariff. In the case that you do not qualify for the restricted tariff, the Parador will apply the standard rate without exception and you will be required to pay a supplement locally. However only one person (per room) needs to qualify for either of these two reductions.