Royal location and fascinating place
The origins of Ruidera can be traced back to Prehistoric times thanks to it being a perfectly inhabitable environment. The first settlers go back to the Lower Paleolithic era and there are traces of other settlements during the rest of Prehistory in the area of Ruidera, although it was from the Bronze Age that archeological remains were discovered.
A large number of sites, hamlets, and isolated houses from Roman times exist. Of particular interest is a Roman road that runs alongside the lakes.
Between the years 1213 and 1217 Ruidera passed into Christian hands. The Military Orders of San Juan and Santiago administered the lake territories.
It was in the XVII century during the reign of Charles III that the area underwent significant growth. Even today some buildings remain standing such as the gunpowder factory administrator’s house and the canal of the Grand Prior to name but a few.
On 13th July, 1979, the lakes of Ruidera were declared a Natural Park. Without a doubt they are Campo Montiel’s most treasured natural resource and one of Spain’s most beautiful natural settings.
Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park is considered to be one of the most interesting and beautiful natural wetland areas on the mainland, it is characterized by cascades that connect one lake to the next.
Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park
Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park comprises 15 lakes: Laguna Blanca, Conceja, Tomilla, Tinaja, San Pedro, Redondilla, Laguna Lengua, Salvadora, Santo Morcillo, Batana, Laguna Colgada, Laguna del Rey, Cueva Morenilla, Coladilla y Cenagosa, that cover an area of over 30 kilometres. Over this stretch some of the lakes are interconnected by way of a complex fluvial network consisting of a multitude of streams and cascades creating a beautiful unique landscape
Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park is located in Campo de Montiel, between the provinces of Cuidad Real (Ruidera, Alhambra, Argamasilla de Alba and Villahermosa) and Albacete (Ossa de Montiel). When compared with other mainland landscapes, the Ruidera lakes have distinguishing geographical characteristics, apart from the natural beauty of the surroundings.
It consists of quite shallow lakes, most of them between 10 and 20 metros. The average surface area is small with most of them being less than 500 metres. Some of the lakes, such as Lake Lengua or Tinaja are edged by steep borders with numerous overhangs. Others are more pleasant in appearance covered with reedbeds and bullrushes.
The lakes are formed from water that comes from natural springs emanating from the surrounding hillsides, receiving surface water via the Alto Guadiana and also subterranean filtration.
The nature reserve, known as Hundimiento, can be found on the way out of Ruidera, some 500 metres in the direction of the local cemetery, accessible via a pathway that runs alongside it.
It is a dam in which can be seen structures made up of mosses on petrified beds. Arranged in ondulating fashion, they adapt to the tiny cracks caused by the outcrop of the bedrock on the old riverbed of the Guadiana River. A little further up tophaceous barriers on verticalised beds can be seen that form beautiful cascades and waterfalls. Opposite the waterfalls there is a small wooden viewpoint from which we can observe this natural spectacle. The time of year and the amount of rainfall determines how spectacular it is but it is always of great interest to nature lovers.
La Casa del Rey
Upon the arrival of the Bourbons (Charles III), Ruidera became known as a ‘Royal location’ triggering a significant rise in population. Hydraulic-based industries started up to power the windmills and the renowned gunpowder factories.
The King’s House dates back to the XVIII century and is also known as the Grand House. Built by the architect Juan de Villanueva it was assigned as residence for Carlos III’s son Prince Gabriel. A two-storey space plus vault built on a square plan. It is located on a hill close to the flour mills that were later transformed to gunpowder mills.
In 1800 an explosion at the gunpowder mills resulted in the King’s House sustaining some damage, consequently repairs were started. Where the old King’s House stood a great building was constructed, it was carried out around 1850, at that time Prince Don Sebastian was Prior of the Order of Saint John.
Santa Maria de la Blanca Church
It is a recently built church (1958) and can be found on Ruidera’s through road that leads to Ossa de Montiel. There was a hermitage dating even further back in time located in the present day Cervantes square.
Puente de la Esclusa
This magnificent bridge can be found a little further down from the lake called La Cenagosa, from Ruidera it is in the direction of the Embalse de Peñaroya. Starting point of the canal of the Grand Prior. It was built in the XVIII century by Juan de Villanueva. Although it is not one of the most visited places, the bridge and surrounding area are uniquely beautiful. With abundant vegetation and extensive reedbeds it provides perfect shelter for the area’s rich variety of wildlife.
The Gunpowder Factory
The remains of the old Gunpowder Factory can be found next to Laguna del Rey, quite close to Ruidera. It was relocated from Alameda de Cervera, in Alcázar de San Juan. Designed by the architect Juan de Villanueva between 1770 and 1780; the flow of water made it the ideal spot. Rebuilt in 1842, there are very few remains of this factory. The bridge with arches on the road from Ruidera to La Solana has been preserved.
This ensemble has great interest because of the buildings constructed by Charles III for the gunpowder, some of which still remain standing such as farm houses in the village.
El Mirador del Rey
The modest Mirador del Rey is located in the upper part of Ruidera, it boasts spectacular views of the lakes close to the village. A magnificent place accessible on foot by means of an asphalted and well-lit pathway.
Fiestas and traditions
In 1990 Ruidera declared its indepence from Argamasilla de Alba. To commemorate the event there is a local holiday celebration on September 21st. A day full of activities and entertainment, traditional food, sporting events, games and an open-air dance.
Fair and celebrations
Held on August 15th. A mass and a procession in honour of the Virgin of the Blanca, patron saint of Ruidera, officially start these celebrations. A wide-range of cultural and sport events are carried out over the four days of festivities.
This festivity takes place on 17th January, eve of San Anton and also February 2nd Candelaria day. There are bonfires all over the village where people gather around to celebrate.
Transhumance (Los Vacos)
“La Cañada Real de los Serranos” (Seasonal migration of livestock) takes place through the centre of Ruidera. In the months of June and November a number of cattle breeders of bull-fighting bulls go through Ruidera’s main street with their herds, a remarkable festive occasion.
April 25th sees another local celebration. This is a day on which the inhabitants of Ruidera share a day out in the countryside, an opportunity to enjoy the exceptional surroundings.