Between the Laguna Blanca and the Santuario de la Virgen de la Carrasca
Villahermosa was founded in the Middle Ages. It was created as the property of Don Enrique, Infante de Aragon, Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, who renamed it from “Pozuelo” to Villahermosa, according to a letter dated on the 22nd September, 1444, when it became detached from Montiel. At that time, the works of the tower of the parish church were ending. Its history is marked by its situation in the basin of routes from Cuenca to Granada and from Valencia to Calatrava. It was, therefore, an important crossroads in the Middle Ages.
The Infant Don Enrique de Aragon, once the Reconquest was consolidated, granted privileges and franchises to their inhabitants, as well as the coat of arms. Its independence as a village belonging to the Municipality of Montiel was definite thanks to Philip II, who in 1575 detached it from Montiel. The letter of privilege that Philip II gave to the village is still preserved in the Town Hall. The mentioned letter was confirmed at the General Chapter (meeting) of the Order, held at the convent of Ucles and subsequently in the villa of Ocaña on 4 May 1480.
Villahermosa accounts with two annexed small villages: Santa Maria and Cañamares, the latter was declared to be of the Order in 1243 by judgment of the Holy King Fernando. Although it is one of the most ancient villas in Campo de Montiel, its population was poor and little at all times, counting in 1468 with fifteen neighbours (in 1575 the neighboring villages declared to have twenty). Cañamares belonged during the Modern Age to Montiel, along with Torres and Santa Cruz of the Cáñamos, later on it fell under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Villahermosa.
We know about Santa Maria that it belonged to the Order of Santiago in the Middle Ages. It had a church, from which the Archbishop of Toledo gained the right to full professor. The Church was ruined and rebuilt at the expense of the Order of Santiago.
Its monumental church, the Organ, the lagoon, its seven shrines… Villahermosa has a great potential for tourism
Church of Ntra. Señora de la Asunción
Regarding the architecture, it is one of the most interesting churches in Campo de Montiel. Built in the sixteenth century, with its late Gothic style with some renaissance elements and consolidations of later styles. The nave has two bodies, the first of them is with a square floor and the second is octagonal.
It impresses with its majestic plan with a single nave of forty-nine meters in length by almost twelve meters wide and more than nineteen of height. The choir, situated at the rear part of the temple, has a flat vault supported by four low arches.
Until recently, on the occasion of Holy Week and in the interior of the Church, it was exhibited the so-called “Monument”, which was a set of paintings that were assembled in the morning of Holy Wednesday for the day and the night of Holy Thursday.
Regarding the architecture, the magnificent doorway stands out: Puerta del Perdon (the Forgiveness Door). It is flared with numerous archivolts of pointed arches crowned by a flamboyant arch The facade is topped by a kind of little balcony, whose balustrade is formed by small columns.
There are two more entry doorways to the building, one of them is flanked by columns 0f classical type, and the other is situated at the foot, with plateresque decoration.
The Organ of Villahermosa
In the interior of the magnificent church of Villahermosa, we found an musical organ recently recovered and restored. It has an impressive large size, as it has some fifteen meters high by twelve wide. It could have been made in the 16th Century. Its author is unknown.
The Baroque Organ of Villahermosa, together with the one in Terrinches and the Historical Organ of Torre de Juan Abad, offer concerts throughout the year, having become in very little time in an important musical event at the national level.
Villahermosa is the village in Campo de Montiel that accounts with the highest number of hermitages, up to seven in the township, plus the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Carrasca that is several kilometres far from the village.
HERMITAGE OF SAINT ISIDRO. It was built in stone with a rectangular floor porch with a bell and a coat of arms with three shells. It was built to honor Saint Isidro. A few meters away there is a resting area of the Route of Don Quixote.
HERMITAGE OF VIRGEN DE LOS DOLORES. It has a squared plan with hipped roof and all is whitewashed. It has windows and doors flanked with strips of brick. It has windows and doors flanked with strips of brick. Its windows are constituted by stained glass windows. Has a portico from the ground up forming a small bell tower built with bricks.
HERMITAGE OF THE HOLY CHRIST. A small hermitage with squared plan and hipped roof built in masonry.
HERMITAGE OF SAINT ANA. It is a small hermitage of square plant with hipped roof and whitewashed. It has doors and windows flanked with strips of brick. It has stained glass Windows and a porch supported by wooden columns with gable roof.
HERMITAGE OF SAINT SEBASTIAN. It is located in Castilla la Mancha avenue with hipped roof, a porch supported by natural wooden columns and white washed.
HERMITAGE OF SAINT ANTON. It is a small Hermitage built in masonry and with a two storey roof.
HERMITAGE OF SAINT AGUSTIN. To highlight its Gateway in carved stone, designing columns and ornaments. The doorway has a round arch.
Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Carrasca
It is a large and broad building situated in a beautiful natural environment.
It was built in the 16th Century although it was refurbished in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Inside, the magnificent altarpiece and a wrought iron grill from the 18th Century. Currently, it has an attached bullfighting ring and a large plot around which is used by the pilgrims in the celebration dates. It counts on a residential area and several gardens.
Two pilgrimages are held here, every year. The first one takes place on the last weekend of April. It is known as “La traida” (carrying), because the image of the Virgin is carried from her shrine to the parish church of Villahermosa in pilgrimage carried by the “quintos” (nineteen year old boys) of the village. The second pilgrimage takes place on the second weekend in September; it is known as the “Fiesta de la Virgen”. The celebration starts with the pilgrimage from the Parish church to the Sanctuary on Saturday morning. During the three following days several events get mixed such as Festejos Populares “rejoneo” ( to fight the bull on horseback with the lance), bullfighting, musical performances, folk dances, etc.) with the religious rituals in honour of the Virgin Mary. These days the environs of the sanctuary is full of typical “huts”, where the neighbours of Villahermosa and the many emigrants who have returned to attend the Fiesta live during this time. This event gathers more than ten thousand people every year.
Casas Solariegas (ancestral homes)
The civil architecture has left us several buildings in Villahermosa. Old stately homes of large dimensions, with two bodies on a basement that was usually used to install the winery. The accounted on a large number of rooms for the owners on the main floor and for the servants, in the surrounding area.
CASA DEL MARQUESADO DE VILLAHERMOSA (home of the Marquisate of Villahermosa): ancestral home from the 17th century belonging to the Marquisate of Villahermosa. Its portico is outstanding, with stone jambs and coat of arms on the door and the window that can hardly be seen due to have been whitewashed together with the façade. Also to highlight the beautiful coffered paneling ceiling.
CASA DEL ARCO (house of the arch): from the 16th Century. To highlight its doorway, with a round arch on stone ashlars. On its lintel there is a shield with the Cross of Caravaca, not very common in Campo de Montiel.
CASA DEL COMENDADOR (house of the Knight Commander): To highlight above all stone portico with a coat of arms above it and the wooden continuous balcony above the gateway.
La Laguna Blanca (The White Lagoon)
In the municipality of Villahermosa there is Laguna Blanca, the first of the string that make up the Natural Park of Las Lagunas de Ruidera. The rainy years it becomes a luxury for the lovers of natural baths, because its gentle slope, low depth and peaceful surroundings that make it an exceptional “natural pool“.
In its surroundings we can watch a large variety of birds, such as the “azulon”, the marsh harrier or the royal heron, that roam among the rushes and reeds. The creek of La Nava supplies water to the lagoon in its southeast end. It is a natural resort worthwhile visiting.
Laguna Blanca is under the protection of the Natural Environment Department, as well as the whole Natural Park of Lagunas de Ruidera. Laguna Blanca is 16 kilometers far from Villahermosa, on the road to Ossa de Montiel.
Permanent Showroom and sale of Handicraft
Run by the Association of Craftsmen of Villahermosa, a group of people who has pooled their skills to the public in an open center, where you can purchase craft pieces with decorative or functional purposes. It is located in Maestro Musica street (close to the petrol station, Villahermosa).
Many different objects typical of the popular handicrafts of Campo de Montiel are exhibited: objects and tools made of esparto, straw. cord, embroidery, etc. It is very likely to meet any of these craftsmen, making some of these objects by hand, as it was made years ago.
Fiestas and traditions
Pilgrimage of Virgen de la Carrasca
It is the most important fiesta in Villahermosa and it takes place in the Sanctuary of the Virgin, on the second weekend of September. This pilgrimage of three days offer different events in which the whole population take part: enrolment and raffle of the “chozos” (camping tents where the pilgrims stay during the pilgrimage), handing out of the programme brochure during the Fair, the traditional auctioning of rooms and bar stalls at the Sanctuary, etc…
The pilgrimage to the Sanctuary (about 14 kms. ), is one of the most exciting moments for the “calduchos” (inhabitants of Villahermosa) and their “Morenilla” (the Virgin). Afterwards, there are some religious and civil events “rejoneo” ( to fight the bull on horseback with the lance), bullfighting without choppers, musical performances, attractions…)
Fair of Saint Agustín. This is one of the most relevant fiestas in Villahermosa. It is to honour the patron saint of the village, Saint Agustín and it takes place from the 27th to the 3oth of August. Religious parade, bonfire, opening address, fireworks, contests, etc…
San Antonio Abad. Patron saint of the animals and pets, this is one of the most beloved Saints in Villahermosa. Its fraternity is one of the oldest in the village. Its celebration is on the 17th of January and if this date is in a working day, it is shifted to the next weekend. Candies for children carrying animals, music performed by the Municipal Band and the traditional bonfire of Saint Anton, at which the neighbours cook “gachas” (porridge), and roast meat, etc.
Saint Sebastian. This saint has an hermitage in Villahermosa too and the neighbours are in charge of supplying cuerva (sangria), “puñao” (a handful of nuts) and organizing a bonfire to honour the Saint.
Saint Jose Artesano. It is the patron saint of the church and the carpenters. Its fraternity and a local carpenter are in charge of organizing a subject bonfire “falla”, on the 19th of March, together with some fireworks.
Saint Marcos. It is celebrated with a picnic and eating the typical “hornazo” (a bun stuffed with red sausage and a boiled egg).
Traída de la Virgen (the carrying of the Virgin). It takes place on the last weekend of April or at the beginning of May (depending on the year) and consists on carrying the Virgin from the Sanctuary to the Parish Church in Villahermosa. To highlight the arrival of the Virgin in Plaza de España, where it is praised by the population with songs and a special “Salve” sung in Latin.
Mayos and flowers to the Virgin. The day before to the “Traida”, sombre special lyrics “Mayos” are sung at the Sanctuary to honour the Virgin and in the Parish church to honour Jesus. The month ends with the religious parade of the Virgin, accompanied by the children who have taken their First Holy Communion that year.
Saint Isidro. Pilgrimage to honour the farmer patron saint. Country mass, contests for children and adults, etc.
Corpus Christi. All the fraternities of the village take part in this religious parade. Part of the population dedicate long time to decorate the streets with colourful sawdust tapestries and beautiful altars, surrounded by plants and rosemary branches.
Saint Antonio. It is celebrated on the 13th of June. It is a tradition to pray to this saint to find a partner. In Villahermosa it is celebrated with a mass and a religious parade. Afterwards blessed bread some snacks are given to the attendants.
Day of the Emigrant. Coinciding with the day of the Virgin Mary on August 15, homage is paid to the emigrants who left the village for any circumstance. The celebration includes popular food and musical performance at the night