Artistic and Literary Legacy
There is a historical route to Almedina and its seven caves, where you can visit the historical sites of the village. This route starts at the Church of Santa Maria, located in the highest part of town, it was rebuilt in 1940 and seated on an old Arab mosque. It has a nave and two aisles separated by columns rising to the paneled ceiling that characterizes this church.
Due to the effects of the Lisbon earthquake in 1820, the two columns at the altar show a slight inclination. Also in the same earthquake an altarpiece by Fernando Yañez was completely destroyed. Its octagonal tower is another of the essential features of this church.
Afterwards, we would visit the hermitage of los Remedios, the only one that is preserved out of the eight hermitages that surrounded the village of Almedina. It is Roman-style and Mudejar, its interior engulfs the visitor due to the simplicity of its construction. At the same time, this little gem transfers calmness and invites us to meditation. Inside there is a tinny dome with some good popular decorative paintings dating back to 1725.
Once the visit to the religious monuments is finished, we would walk through the uneven and narrow streets of this village, and would pass by the house where it is suppossed that Fernando Yañez de la Almedina was born. Next, we would enjoy the views of the diverse landscapes surrounding Almedina.
Another noticeable building is the Town Hall, from the 17th Century. From its former construction, the main gateway is well preserved as well as the outline of the outside façade. When recently rebuilt, they were taken into account the parameters of the ancestral home it was, allocating the rooms in two- storey
Next to the Town Hall, we find a beautiful stone doorway, belonging to the house were Fray Juan Muñoz de la Cueva, Professor and Bishop (1660-1728) was born and lived.
The seven caves that are in Almedina are also worth visiting as each one has its own story and peculiarity. Although they are broken down into shelters and caves, the later would be of high interest for the visitors due to their wide range of geological features.
Almedina is the home village of the painter Yañez de la Almedina and of the humanist Bartolome Jimenez Paton.
Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina Open-air Museum
When we arrive at Almedina, the first thing that draws our attention are the large pictures displayed throughout the village. Works which belong to its native son, Fernando Yañez de la Almedina who was main disciple of Leonardo da Vinci.
Among the works, the four that are exhibited at the Prado Museum stand out: Santa Catalina de Alejandría (his masterpiece), San Damián, Santa Ana with the Virgin and the Child and a picture acquired around 1992, Cristo Resucitado and the Saints appearing to the Virgin, which must belong to his stage in Cuenca.
In the open-air Museum of the village we can watch a total of 26 copies of the most representative work of Yanez, touring for the best Spanish renaissance. Walking through the streets of Almedina and discovering the works of the painter, is one more tourist asset that Campo de Montiel offers to us.
Public Fountain of Almedina
It is located on the West hillside of Almedina and it was restored in 2002. This beautiful and quiet fountain is completely surrounded by means of a rectangular enclosure, from which, the main wall is well preserved. From this wall three spouts of cast iron pour water generously to the stone pillars, formerly used as drinking troughs for the animals and as laundry rooms for clothing.
The water comes from an underground spring that is linked to another drinking trough located on the opposite side of the hill.
On the Roman façade we can see an imperial coat of arms, as a tribute to Carlos V, which attests to the relevance of this villa in the 16th and 17th centuries, through an inscription that says: “Encomienda Mayor de Castilla” (High Commander of Castilla).
Under the Fountain, going on the slope, there are some orchards built with the system of terraces or stops, which allowed the farming of vegetables and cereals. These orchards were watered by means of a pool called “Alberca del Tinte” that recollected the excess of water from the Fountain. These orchards are peculiar for their construction and because Almedina is one of the few villages that keep them.
300 meters from the Arab Orchards, we find a magnificent Roman bridge. It has a single round arch and upon it the Roman legions passed by. This fact is certified by a flagstone that currently is in the Museo Provincial, with some inscriptions in Roman types, paying homage to the legions and the centurions that passed by this bridge. There are still some remains of the Roman road and its paving stones. The degree of conservation of the bridge is excellent as it has been guarded for centuries by bushes and trees.
Who was Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina?
He was Leonardo Da Vinci’s main disciple. He was born in Almedina in the last quarter of the 15th Century. Still young, he might have departed to Italy, as his undoubted Italianism style shows, which denotes a marked influence of Leonardo da Vinci’s sfumato, his master.
He also has other florentine influences, as well as the venetian circles of Giorgione. The relationship between Yanez and Leonardo was reflected in two documents inf 1505 on the painting of the battle of Anghiari Leonardo and his disciples in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Fiestas and traditions
El Baile de las Ánimas, (the Spirits dance)
28 of December
A tradition in Almedina that comes from the 14th century. The 10 brothers who make up the Fraternity, went down to the ways and tracks of the village and offered wine to the farmhands; in return these farmhands gave them alms.
They also go house by house knocking at the doors, and playing a chime and shouting “Animas!”. The neighbours go out from their houses and give money away, candy or any other thing that can be sold later on, at the Dancing. The elder brother or “High Animero”, manages or leads the rest of the fraternity and he has the authority to fine to someone, by simply saying “Yo te denuncio” (I denounce you). The person that has been fined will have to pay the fine to continue his way (from 5 to 100 euros).
And at night it takes place the “Baile de las Animas”, in an indoors place. Men pay a symbolic entrance, and women have free entrance.
The High Brother opens up the dancing with a “jota manchega” (typical dance from la Mancha), so that all the attendants can dance too. The High Brother has the authority to interrupt the dancing, by shouting “Animas” and to fine any one for any offence.
San Anton, 17 January; San Blas, 2-3 February; San Marcos, 25th April; Las Cruces, 3th May; San Isidro, 15th May. San Cristóbal, 1oth July. Patron Saint Fiestas: to honour the virgin del Rosario, 7th of october.