Ossa de Montiel

Natural Park and Quixote’s setting

Ossa de Montiel is the only village of the Campo de Montiel district that is in the province of Albacete and in its municipal district there are nine and a half lakes out of the fifteen lakes that are included in the Natural Park of Ruidera Lakes.

Due to the great amount of water and the undulating landscape, Ossa de Montiel has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age. The Iberos, the Romans, the Visigothic and the Muslim peoples passed through this land. Mainly the Age of Bronze (1600 to 1100 BC) when the metallurgy spreads out and a certain number of previously unknown little villages, called Morras or Castellones and Motillas (little  hills or mounds) appear. It was founded by the Romans in the valley of San Pedro, and named Caput Fluminis Anae.

The Visigoths left their trace in the old hermitage of San Pedro; in its surroundings it is located the castle of Rochafrida, so often referred to in romances, and the wellknown cave of Montesinos, in which Miguel de Cervantes locates the chapter 22 to 23 of the second part of his work Don Quixote de la Mancha.

The history of Ossa de Montiel, like the rest of villages in the Campo de Montiel district, is linked to the Military Religious Order of Santiago, from the Christian Reconquest until the end of the 19th century.

The main portion of the Natural Park of Ruidera Lake is located in the Municipal district of Ossa de Montiel.

Natural Park of Lagunas de Ruidera

Without doubt, the Ruidera Lakes are the natural jewel of Campo de Montiel. The 15 lakes are distributed in Ossa de Montiel, Ruidera and Villahermosa, in between the provinces of Ciudad Real an Albacete.

Nine lakes and half are located in the municipal district of Ossa de Montiel. Their names are Concejo, Tomilla, Tinaja, San Pedro, Redondilla, Lengua, Salvadora, Santos Morcillo, Batana and half of La Colgada. They have a karstic origin and they form a chain with a drop of 120 meters between the first one to the last one. They extend along 30 kilometers.

The Ruidera lakes are extremely beautiful and are separated and connected to each other  by barriers “tobáceas” (limestone rocks originated by sediments of limestone on plants and other elements in some rivers) which form cascades or creeks that link the upstream lake to the downstream one. Thus, to be accurate, they should be called river “backwaters”.

Church of Santa Maria Magdalena

It is a small and beautiful temple of the end of the Gothic style, dated on the beginning of the 16th Century, in spite of its old appearance. It has a rectangular base, transversal diaphragm arches, a wooden roof of Mudejar tradition and a high coir at the entrance, supported by two columns. The main façade ends in the upper part with a bell-gable which opens to the doorway with a round arch.

Roll or Pillory

The real one is located in the courtyard of a private house, but there is a reproduction called the “garden of our History”.  The Pillory is a carved stone pillar of about 5 meters eight and column shape. It  stands on a cylindrical base of four steps. The Pillories represented the administrative category of a village, and they were risen only in the villages with full jurisdiction, lake Ossa de Montiel, which got the title of village on the 28th September, 1410 by the Infant don Enrique (son of the King Fernando de Aragon).

Montesinos Cave

This famous cave is a hollow space of karstic origin. It is about 80 mts deep and it was formed by the dissolution that the rain water originated in the surrounding rocks. Some remains of diverse civilizations have been found in this cave.

It is supposed to be the Spanish cave best well known worldwide not for its geological characteristics, but because it was chosen by Miguel de Cervantes to be the setting of the main charming spell of Spanish literature,  as it is narrated in chapters 22 to 23 of the second part of his masterpiece “Don Quixote of La Mancha”. In these chapters, the magician Merlin has more than five hundred people under a spell, among them there are the nobleman Montesinos, Doña Ruidera and her seven daughters and two nieces, the knight Durandarte, together with the Squire Guadiana, (…)

Hermitage of  San Pedro

It is located close to the Montesinos Cave, on the road of San Pedro, in the place called alter him. It has been a place for pilgrimage and worship for centuries. It was built on the remains of an old Visigothic hermitage. The former hermitage was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, and it was rebuilt in the fifties. Inside, the image of San Pedro de Verona, to whom the citizens of Ossa de Montiel go on pilgrimage twice a year, one on Easter Sunday. This day the saint’s image is brought to the village by the boys who have turned 18 that year. The other pilgrimage takes place on the 29th April. This day, the saint’s image is taken to the hermitage by women.

Castle of Rochafrida

The castle was built by the Muslims on the 12 century. After the Battle of Navas de Tolosa, it was conquered by the Christians. It is a military castle and had a wall. Nowadays, only the remains of the turret and a part of the wall can be seen. As well as the Montesinos Cave, its interest is based on literature, as referring to the castle we find the oldest medieval romances ever known, those of “ROSAFLORIDA Y FONTEFRIA”. Rosaflorida is the landlady of the castle and she is in love with the nobleman Montesinos. Fontefrida is the fountain at the entrance of the castle.

Los Caños (the tabs)

An old fountain in the Gardens “La Glorieta”, built in ashlars with some steps to walk down to the tabs with natural running water. This fountain is public use and some years ago, the citizens from Ossa de Montiel carried the water from the fountain for domestic usage with pottery recipients.

Ethnographic Museum in Ossa de Montiel

To visit the Ethnographic Museum in Ossa de Montiel is a must. It is located 1 kilometre and a half away on the road to Villahermosa. The museum has been set in a little house of road workers, refurnished for this purpose.

In it, we can see the different trades, functions and traditions of women and men in Ossa de Montiel. It is divided and arranged by subjects in different rooms: shepherding, hunting, stockbreeding, farming and other trades that complemented the already mentioned such as barber, shoemaker, coalmen, etc.


Entrance gate to the Ethnographic Museum of  Ossa de Montiel

The museum is full of charming corners that show utensils and tools of past times, clothes, pieces of furniture, school material and a small collection of old photographs.

Every object and utensil  has been donated by citizens from Ossa de Montiel. Without doubt, it is a good example of collaboration among citizens in Ossa de Montiel.

Fiestas and traditions

There are several fiestas at Ossa de Montiel during the year:

The Patron Fiesta to honour San Miguel Archangel, takes place on September 29th.

August Fair, from the 16th to the 21st of August.

Pilgrimage and Festival Light to honour San Pedro de Verona,  on Easter Sunday and on the 29th April. The Festival Light to honour Saint Pedro de Verona takes place from the 20th to the 28th of April.

A walk through Montiel