Impressive Fortified Tower and beautiful hermitage
As we get closer to La Puebla, as it is known in the surroundings, we see that i son topo f a hill and its streets show an irregular layout with quite a few slopes; short and narrow streets that become shorter and narrower as we get close to the parish Church and the Medieval Tower, which are the main tourist attractions in the village core.
Walking along the streets of Puebla del Principe is a humble exercise that will allow us to enjoy the silence and the pleasant taste of village that the villages in Campo de Montiel steel keep; villages that are almost always unaware of rush and disturbing noises.
Formerly, it was named Puebla de Montiel. It had belonged to Montiel since 1243 Its greatest splendour was in the second half of the 16th century. It was in May of 1553, when the village awarded the title as independent village thanks to Prince Philip II. Then it shifted its name from “Puebla de Montiel” to “Puebla del Principe” in honor of the Prince from Austria that gave it the independence.
During much of its history, Puebla del Príncipe has been visited by many travellers, as it was a crossroads for its diverse inhabitants and a passing through place for the invaders who wanted to go through the Iberian Peninsula.
There are many remains of ancient civilizations that have passed by Puebla del Prince, but with the Romanization is when you it starts having a known origin. When ploughing and digging, remains of buildings, columns, graves, etc have been found in this village.
Archaeological findings show evidence of a glorious past. The strongest influence was thanks to the Order of Santiago, which contributed to the conquest and repopulation of the district, promoting the development of towns and villages, and building roads, etc. In 1243 the Order of Santiago owns the whole Campo de Montiel. Since then, Puebla del Prince grew up under the shelter of the Castle, which was part of one of the 32 fortresses that the Order of Santiago hat in the 3th century.
In La Puebla we will enjoy the silence and the pleasant taste of village that the villages in Campo de Montiel still keep.
The fortified Tower of Puebla del Principe
Solid and unaware of time, emerging from the urban outline and very well preserved, the fortified Tower of Puebla del Principe attracts our eyes. It is located in the eastern part of the village core and served as a defensive tower in the Middle Ages. Its plant is almost square, with rounded angles and its base occupies a surface area of 100 square meters approximately.
Its masonry walls are two meters thick. The way in to the ground floor is at the nothern side (although it is not the original door). From here, going up a stone staircase built in the wall, we reach the second floor which has plenty of light due to the openings in three of its walls. A second segment of the staircase leads us to the defensive flat roof, which keeps a parapet with no battlement and the remains of a rain water channel system that carried the water to the cistern located under the Tower.
Inside, the vaults of the ceilings and the arches of the windows are made of brick. The great height of the ceilings of the two chambers are signs that these were divided into two plants using wooden floors, thus increasing the space and useful capacity.
It is in good conditions as it keeps the structure of main square plant, and the interior, although very transformed, it has been restored and conditioned for public use. Currently it hosts the Public Library.
Iglesia de Ntra. Sra. de la Asunción
The Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, is located in the centre of the village and very close to the Tower. The style of its initial construction was Mudejar. Later on, around 1526, it was refurbished, in a late Gothic style, specially the presbytery. In 1553, the old Chapel de la Asunción was founded. In the mid 17th Century it was refurbished again, focused on the gateway, the tower, the tribune, the chapels and the sacristy. In the 20th Century, the old wooden ceiling was replaced by a barrel vault. The building is built with ashlars and back filling. It has a rectangular plant and a nave with barrel vault. On the south there is the main gateway, which consists on a round arch, with roof lights resting on rectangular plinths. The bell tower, built with masonry and with reinforcements in the ashlars corners, is mainly a modern construction. At the foot there is the choir, sustained on two Doric columns, with their sides adorned with diamonds in bas-relief.
The oldest element well preserved is the covering of the apse, ribbed vaulting. To the right of the apse it is the attached chapel of the Virgin of Mairena, nowadays of the Blessed Sacrament, with a very interesting Renaissance arch which is a round arch between fluted columns with Corinthian capitals.
To the left there is a small and restored classical chapel, that hosts the grave of the Knight Commander Gonzalo de la Tobilla, 1540. In its outside, you will see a solid construction of ashlars masonry and buttressing and a tower attached to the feet. Stylistically it could be dated in the 15th or early 16th Century. Its tower has the peculiarity of having battlements.
Hermitage of the Virgen de Mairena
Two kilometers away from Puebla del Principe it is the Hermitage of the Virgen de Mairena, located in a beautiful wood, a place of praise and leisure for the “poblatos” (people from Puebla del Principe). At its foot there is a source of clear water that springs and irrigate the surrounding fields.
This chapel had been ignored in the mid of last century, until 1971 when its reconstruction began. Most of the last century until in 1971 it started its reconstruction. the Hermitage was rebuilt thanks to the contribution of the neighbors and parishioners, who collaborated through raffles, lottery sales donations, provision of different materials, bullfighting festivals (including the construction of the bullfighting ring). With their effort the chapel was refurbished and also the road to the hermitage.
The Hermitage is a rectangular plant, with 30 x 9 meters and its orientation is West-East. It was built with irregular masonry. Large blocks of sandstone reinforce the corners and the jambs of the arches of the access doors. The ceiling is flat, with gable roof. The interior has a single nave with roof of wooden beams and corbels. Several windows light the inside.
On the outside and from the main entrance, even if the chapel is closed, the visitor can press a button next to the door that lights the window-altarpiece where the Virgin is to stare at her.
Nearby the Hermitage, some neighbors have built country houses and rich orchards to enjoy nice moments of leisure close to their Patron Saint.
Drinking troughs and Lookout sites
Very close to the Tower and attached to some orchards, we find a washing place that has been restored recently. In former times, it was used as a fountain, as well as a cistern to water the orchards and as a washing basin to do the laundry. At the beginning of the way that takes us to the hermitage, we see two drinking troughs for the cattle, displayed next to each other. A simple fountain keeps the water constantly clear for the cattle in both drinking troughs.
Next to the Church and to the Tower, we can see a large park and a viewpoint from which we can enjoy the serene amplitude of Campo de Montiel. In the upper part of the village, next to the pool and the plaza de toros (bullfighting ring) there is another small park from where we can enjoy the beauty of Campo de Montiel, again.
The Virgin shared, a nice story
The Virgin de Mairena, patron virgin of the “poblatos”, is shared with their neighbours the “villorreños” (people from Villamanrique). The reason is because a shepherd from Villamanrique ran across the honoured Virgin in the municipality of Puebla del Príncipe. Thus, there was a confusion on the property of the image. The final solution was to share it, and therefore both villages share and enjoy this beautiful image.
For this reason, the Virgin stays throughout the year in Puebla del Principe until the first Sunday of May, in which the poblatos lend the image to their neighbors from Villamanrique for a month, until the first Sunday of June. Either to take the image to the Hermitage, or to carry it back to the Church, both groups of neighbours meet in a place called “Las Quebrás”, in the limit of both municipalities. It is curious to see the meeting of the two groups, twinned by the Virgen de Mairena.
In the place where the image was found, a beautiful Hermitage was built to honour the Virgin. Currently this is the place for leisure and pray for the inhabitants of la Puebla.
Fiestas and traditions
Pilgrimage to Nuestra Señora de Mairena
It is held on the first Sunday of June. The image of Our Lady of Mairena is carried on floats by the devotees of Puebla del Principe from the Church until the limit of both villages, where, in a place called “Las Quebradas”, the “villorreños” take the image and move singing and carrying it to Villamanrique
Pilgrimage celebrated on the 15th of May.
Patron Saint Fiestas
On the 8th of September. They are celebrated to honour the Virgen de Mairena, during the first fortnight of September. During the days of the fiesta, the City Council arranges a lot of activities for the visitor.