Entering Almagro, history peels off the pages of the tourist magazine and parades in glorious technicolour before your eyes. However, this is only one of the historical jewels that lie on the plains of the Province of Cuidad Real and that provides latter day time-travellers with a startlingly clear glimpse of the past. The narrow streets of its historical centre are lined with beautifully restored 16th century palaces and the ornate facades of a plethora of religious institutions that accompanied the temporal passage of money and power. Here is a vivid insight into the social structure of a Spain of antiquity tastefully packaged for latter day living.

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Almagro is located deep in the heart of the province of Cuidad Real, 22 km from the provincial capital and 200 kilometres from Madrid. It was first officially recognised as an economic hub in the 13th century when it became a religious centre, its importance deriving from the German bankers, who bankrolled a hugely indebted Carlos I in the 16th century. Almagro, at the time, was an important area for the mining of silver.

Today, Almagro quietly bubbles with historical pressure beneath an unforgiving Castillian summer sun. Streets boil during the day but, late in the evening, transform into a fashion show as the inhabitants stroll leisurely around checking for changes in their comfortable surroundings. A cool beer in the shade of a bar in the main square of Almagro could perhaps be classified as one of the superlative pleasures of life.

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