Albaladejo comes from “albala”, which means “road”, since an important Roman road went over here and was used until the middle age.
The Albaladejo town stands at the slopes of a small hill, under which runs the brook of the Cañada. Its urban layout proves an important medieval heritage. At the top of the town is the Church and there is also an old Fort. The hamlet is simple, with one- and two-storey buildings irregularly distributed. Open spaces as the Constitution Square, are intersected with the irregular and deep streets.
Until 1243 it was village of Villanueva de la Fuente, but a resolution of Fernando III the Saint will put an end to disputes between Alcaraz and the order of Santiago and the village became independent with the name of “Albaladejo de los Freiles” in honor of the Santiago knights who had retaken it.
The Child racing, the Dance of Souls, the Auditorium next to the Castle, the Bay window… Albaladejo has managed to recover and promote their traditions and heritage.
The Albaladejo Castle
The only example we have in Albaladejo of military architecture is its castle. It stands in the highest part of the town. It only retains from its original structure, part of the walls and two damaged towers that closed it on both sides. The plant is small and rectangular.
This castle, work of the Knights of Santiago, consisted of a great nave, basement, main floor and defensive terrace. Two also rectangular towers were attached to it. One of them had inside a room at the height of the main floor. Next to this tower was the entrance to the area.
It was built in masonry with reinforcements of stone blocks at the corners. Only part of the East and West sides and the adjoining towers remain now, having lost almost completely the southern wall and the North façade where the entrance was.
This small castle, recently restored, exercised a wide visual domain to the South and East, which proves the strategic importance of the enclave in the middle ages, before the final pacification of the territory.
Now it is used as an open auditory for public events. It consists of three zones: stage, square and bay window, with a gardened space very pleasant to enjoy.
The Church of Santiago Apostle
It stands next to the Castle and fits perfectly with the environment adding beauty.
The plant is of Latin cross with small bodies attached to the cruise. At the feet it is the square and solid tower. Its walls are of ordinary masonry with blocks in the corners and buttresses. It has two entrance doors, the principal one in round-arched and nerves in the archivolt, and the second in curve-arched and a coat of arms in the key-stone. Inside, through a spiral staircase attached to the tower, it is accessed the choir, the vaults and the Bell Tower.
During the second half of the 13th century, the Knights of the order of Santiago built a small chapel next to the castle. On the original chapel it was erected a church of greater size in late 15th century and early 16th, as a result of the economic activation and the increase of population.
In 1575 part of its work should be building still, since in the topographic Records of the Towns of Spain ordered by Felipe II it is said that part of money from the incomes of the municipal pasturelands “… in accordance with the license and royal provision of his Majesty is spent in the work of the Church and other exploitations.” Other units conforming to its current state will be added later.
Historical town centre
It consists of narrow and irregular streets with a clear medieval layout adapted to the rugged terrain of the hill where the village is located. On its streets we can see remaining evidences of ancestral houses of the 16th to the 18th centuries. Note the Casa Grande (great house), old Convent of the Knights of the Santiago Order, in Arch Street.
Roman Village “Bridge of Olmilla”
It is the first systematic excavation carried out to date in the province of Ciudad Real (1972). It is located next to the Hannibal Path. It’s the type of residential and agricultural village, entirely decorated with large pavements of polychromatic mosaics of which, five have been discovered so far, some of them can be seen in the house of culture. Also it has been able to identify the place where were sited the thermal facilities and possibly the necropolis.
The Albaladejo Lookout point
Next to the castle, in the highest part of the village, to the Southeast, we shall find a beautiful lookout point of the Campo de Montiel, from which there are spectacular views over all Campo de Montiel.
The San Isidro hermitage
About a kilometer from the town centre, we find the San Isidro place. A short stroll down the road leads to the chapel. It is a natural and suitable area for the enjoyment of residents of Albaladejo, with benches, gardens, etc…
Festivities and traditions
The Child Racing
It is one of the most peculiar traditions of Albaladejo and all over the region. On Resurrection Sunday, the Albaladejo residents celebrate the Christ Resurrection running through the streets of the village with the image of the Risen Christ on their shoulders. The ‘racing’ ends with an emotional encounter between the Christ and the Virgin of the Rosary.
Dance of Souls
This peculiar and beautiful dance is held during the three days of Carnival. It comes from La Mancha folklore and is composed of eight dancers, seven more the player or captain dressed in typical clothing.
Fiesta of Santiago Apostle
On July 25, it is celebrated the patron of the town with a procession in the morning. On 24 July, the roped cow and the closure by the field and on July 23, the release of heifers through the streets of Albaladejo.
Pilgrimage of San Marcos, on April 25th. Pilgrimage 0f San Isidro, on May 15th. Pilgrimage of San Cristobel, on July 10th. Festivities in Honor to the Virgin of Rosary, on October 8th.