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Our Local Area (and some of our rides)


In the fabulous hill country of southern Castilla la Mancha, 59 miles from the north eastern border of Jaen territory, Andalucía, Viva Iberica’s riding centre and the Purebred Spanish Horse Stud 'Yeguada Iberica' are situated next to a protected nature reserve near the mediaeval village of Tobarra, 5 miles from the ancient market town of Hellin.


This unspoilt area has not yet been invaded by the tourist industry, although it is a secret paradise for Spanish visitors who appreciate its outstanding countryside, wildlife and cuisine.


To many, Castilla La Mancha represents the vast plains of Don Quixote country, where the famous white windmills are depicted on sun-drenched hills in numerous paintings and photographs. However, we are situated in southern Castilla La Mancha where the vast plains of central Spain change to pine wooded hills, ancient arroyos, vineyards and fertile orchards of olive, almond, apricot, peach and pear.


Riding or walking directly from our Centre to the east you will find a protected nature reserve, pine woods and hills, vineyards, olive and almond plantations, with views to the far horizon.


To the south are low mountains and the extinct volcano of Cancarix, where you could imagine you are riding in an old 'Western', or perhaps in Arizona.


Southwest are the rivers, lakes and wooded hills of Agramon, where stunning views to the far mountains alternate with shaded paths alongside the (rivers) Rio Mundo and Rio Seguro.


To the SSW is Tolmo de Minateda, one of Castilla La Mancha’s archaeological parks, occupied since prehistoric times (with prehistoric paintings in its rock shelters), plus an ancient Ibero-Roman fortified village, later a Visigoth settlement. Declared a "World Heritage" by UNESCO.


To the west you can ride or walk on ancient tracks through the fruit orchards of Polope.



We are a 50 minute scenic drive (included in Tours of the Region options) from the vast nature reserves of the Sierra del Segura and the Sierra de Alcaraz where the Rio Mundo begins its long journey to the sea. 1½ hours drive from Alicante or St Javier (Murcia) airports, also the port of Cartagena, or La Manga and its golf complex and the beach resorts of Mazaron & Santiago de la Ribera in the east.


The Riding Centre

The Centre is situated within a 110 acre working farm (vineyard, olives, almonds, alfalfa) and the Purebred Spanish Horse stud farm 'Yeguada Iberica', between Tobarra and the village of Cordovilla.



Campos de Hellin

We are situated in the heart of what is known as the Campos de Hellin, a collection of landscapes reflecting perfectly the transition from the endless Castilian plains to the eastern Mediterranean lowlands, where the traveller descends from the vineyards, olive and almond trees to the mountainous areas bathed by the rivers Mundo and Segura, in which surroundings river woods, bamboo, pine forests and fertile market gardens grow. Next to us are the Sierra de Los Donceles, rich in Mediterranean pines and wildlife, and the Volcano of Cancarix, declared a national monument.


Tobarra, our local village - 2km () miles from the Centre


A combination of medieval town, ancient winding streets and traditional and modern shopping and facilities, thriving cultural centre, concert hall, sports centre, swimming pool (July and August) situated in gardens and palm trees, covered bullring and the world’s foremost drum museum!


Tobarra is classified a National Tourist Interest and is noted for its Holy Week festivities (Wednesday to Easter Sunday) when thousands of drummers descend on the town. In recent years the Town has been granted an extra hour before changing its clocks to summer time to allow the drummers an extra hour of festivities!


History: Remains of an early village from the Iberian period have been found here. Later Tobarra became an important settlement in the Arab period, then an independent town in 1269. The Town Hall is a fine 16th century building as are some of the houses in the town, some with coats of arms and rows of ancient balconies. Fine old buildings include the 16th century church of Assumption, the Franciscan Convent, church of San Antón, the Shrine of the Cristo de la Antigua y de la Encarnación with Mudejar ceiling and Mozarabic features.

See Wikipedia entry for Tobarra (opens in new window)



Hellin (where your hotel is situated) - 8km (5 miles) from the Centre


A town combining the character of its ancient history with all the modern shopping centres and facilities of a thriving and prosperous community. Market day is Wednesday (morning).


History - An important town of the Mancha region considered to be the Ilumum of the Roman period. In the 3rd century, Roman villas were built here and mosaics from Hellin are now in the National Archaeological and Albacete Museums. Later an important Arab settlement, captured by the Christians in 1256, owned by the Catholic Monarchs in 1476 and granted the title of a town in 1898. The main town of this agricultural region it has an historic centre, of Arab origin, formed by an irregular and maze-like pattern of streets. It is surrounded by walls and has a permanent covered market, an old Moorish castle and a number of 16th century churches and towers and 18th century palaces and mansions.


There are two museums, one devoted to bullfighting (not open all year), the other to local archaeology.

See Wikipedia entry for Hellin (opens in new window)



The Wines Of Castilla La Mancha


It is not generally appreciated that the region of Castilla La Mancha produces some fine and internationally award winning wines. More than 570,000 hectares of vineyards in Castilla La Mancha provide 17.8% of Europe's entire wine production and 7.6% of wine produced worldwide.



Close by:

Near to Tobarra is the town of Elche de la Sierra in an area surrounded by mountains, rivers and lakes. This is an area where we (Richard) takes part in rounding up and herding the fighting bulls to the town corrals. We sometimes ride in this area and on the sandy shores of the Embalse de Talave



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