Ciudad Real. I. A S. province of Spain, comprising the greater part of the old province of La Mancha, and a portion of New Castile proper; area, 7,837 sq. m.; pop. in 1867, 264,908. It consists mainly of barren plains skirted N. and S. by lofty sierras, some of which are clad with forests, and enclose many deep valleys. They give rise to several rivers, most of them affluents of the Guadiana, which impart fertility to the land in their immediate vicinity. The Guadiana itself, which rises near the border of the province, traverses it from E. to W. Wheat, rye, barley, maize, oats, beans, peas, hemp, flax, aniseed, and esparto are cultivated, and horned cattle, horses, mules, asses, sheep, goats, and pigs are reared. The mountains contain iron, silver, copper, lead, antimony, cinnabar, coal, marble, granite, quartzite, jasper, etc. In the S. W. corner of the province is the famous quicksilver mine of Almaden. Hot and cold mineral springs are abundant. The manufactures include woollens, linen, cotton, silk, hardware, earthenware, saltpetre, soap, wine, oil, and brandy, and the exports consist of these articles, with many of the natural products. The imports are lace, perfumery, sugar, coffee, and rice. Manzanares, Almodovar, Calatrava, and Valdepeflas are among the more important places.
II. The capital of the province, situated in a low plain about 5 m. from the Guadiana and 100 m. S. S. W. of Madrid; pop. about 10,000. Built after the expulsion of the Moors from La Mancha to serve as a check upon the remnant of that people who still maintained themselves in the Sierra Morena, it was originally a place of strength, and yet retains a portion of its ancient defences, which, with its solid-looking houses and rich surrounding vegetation, convey on a distant view a pleasing impression. A closer inspection shows the walls to be ruinous, the town dull and half deserted. The streets, however, are wide, level, and regular; most of the houses have iron railings and balconies, and those facing the principal public square are lined with arcades. The handsomest building is the church of Santa Maria, consisting only of a Gothic nave of magnificent proportions, with a high stone tower. There are several other churches, six monasteries, three nunneries, hospitals, a secondary college, a superior school, a house of refuge for juvenile vagrants, and fine barracks. It is the seat of a bishopric. The manufactures consist chiefly of coarse strong woollens, linens, table cloths, and watches. Trade is confined principally to grain, potatoes, wine, fruits, and mules.
The railway from Madrid to Badajoz passes through it. Before the final conquest of Granada this was a frontier city and seat of the court of chancery for the south. It was the headquarters of the Hermandad, or holy brotherhood, founded in 1249, for the suppression of highway robbery. A battle was fought in the vicinity, March 27, 1809, in which Gen. Sebastiani, with 12,000 men, gained an easy victory over 19,000 Spaniards commanded by Urbino, count of Cartoajal. The Spaniards lost 1,000 killed, 3,000 prisoners, and a quantity of arms and provisions.