Full of History and Archaeology
Villanueva de la Fuente is located in the East end of Campo de Montiel. It is settled on a high plain, in front of the mountain chains of Villanueva, el Relumbrar y, a little farther, Alcaraz. Its average altitude is high. The village is rich in underground water resources which easily spring to the surface. For this reason there are several water springs nearby the village.
Villanueva de la Fuente has been an important setting since ancient times, as the ancient Iberian-Roman town of Mentesa Oretana settled down here, according to the archaeology research being taken since 1998. The remains of an ancient Islamic fortress have been detected on the upper part of the village. After the conquest of Meintixa by the Christians, the ancient citadel “alcazaba” was reinforced with a large wall. This urban fortress was involved in many conflicts during the Middle Ages that ended up at the war of Alcaraz, framed at the time of settling of the Reyes Católicos crown.
At this time, Mentesa backed the King’s enemies. The town was besieged by the Alcaraz troops and it was finally conquered after a trench was digged under the walls. The fortress was demolished to prevent from future revolts and the town was given a new name: Villanueva de Alcaraz. Time after, Villanueva became independent from Alcaraz and took its present name: Villanueva de la Fuente.
Villanueva de la Fuente has been an important setting since ancient times.
Casa de la Encomienda – City Archeological Museum
The ancient Casa de la Encomienda is where the City Archaeology Museums is located. It has several rooms and Chambers offering the best of the archeology and history of Villanueva de la Fuente. The Museum keeps the best objects found at the Mentesa Oretana diggings, as well as other objects of high historical value for the village.
Los Toriles – Vial Callejón del Aire. Iberian-Roman and Medieval archaeology sites and work Camps, located South of the village, upon the water springs of the river Villanueva and at the outskirts of the village, next to the old cemetery. It is a high area dominating the river Villanueva valley. Important remains of the ancient town of Oretana have been discovered through archaeology diggings in the area. The remains are such as burials, pavements, walls and cisterns cisterns can be seen in an area ready to show this magnificent heritage.
Museo ciudad de Mentesa, located in 7, del Aire alley. It offers the findings of the diggings undertaken in the ancient town of Mentesa Oretana. After the digging, the remains of the Islamic citadel “alcazaba” of the town have been found. In the camp there are information panels to explain the remains.
In 14, Mentesa street there is another open air archeological site where some structures, foundations and wall remains of Oretana town can be seen. These remains belong to a church of the 13th Century. The remains have been surrounded by gardens and enclosed with a fence, so that they can be seen from outside. This is one more of the different areas of the villages to show the ancient setting of the town of Mentesa Oretana.
Church of Nuestra Señora de la Paz
The former Parish Church was located South of the village and was demolished. The new one was built in 1940. The current Parish Church Virgen de la Paz has a nave and two aisles. The ceiling is a cross vault with dark ribs, as dark as the arches that split the space. The weight is supported by some columns with detached pillasters.
There is documentation that proves that the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Paz existed since the 13th Century. The Bishopric of Mentesa, to which the town belonged, was one of the former and most important in Hispania, since the 3th Century. One of the first written references appear in the “Descriptions of the Encomienda Heritage” in the year 1731, when there is a description of the ornaments and other objects in the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Paz: “A silver custodia, on a golden median, used to carry the Very Holy Sacrament in the Corpus Demonstrations, adorned with silver leaves…”.
River Villanueva Springs Park
In the lower part of Villanueva de la Fuente, we find a peculiar park that sorrounds the river Villanueva springs. Villanueva de la Fuente has turned this area in a nice park with water channels, drinking troughs of crystalline water, lawn, benches and a play ground and a resting area. An image of the Virgen de la Paz dominates the park. The river Villanueva has been the very centre of the village for ages, as the archeological remains from different ages discovered in its outskirts show. The springs are originated in an area of 2.500 m2 and they are the source of the river Villanueva in a natural spring of the Aquifer 24. The source is composed by three springs called Pilar Grande, Pilarete and Pilar del Huerto.
Batanes (watermills) Water Falls
This natural resource can be visited and it is located in the site called “de las Monjas”. The water of the channels is driven upslope and then falling onto old watermills, producing an artificial cascade.
Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados
It is a place for rest and leisure located in an spectacular natural environment. It counts on a residential area, gardens, bullfight ring and the church. The whole complex is located on the cornice of a tableau. The spectacular Mirador del Santuario (Hermitage Lookout) is located in the back that provides with beautiful views to the South, of the river Villanueva valley and the first foothills of Sierra Morena.
The Virgin of los Desamparados is Villanueva de la Fuente’s patron virgin. There is a pilgrimage to honour the virgin that take place on the 8th of May “Fiestas del 8 de Mayo” (the second weekend of May). The image of the Virgin is taken in procession from the church of Nuestra Señora de la Paz to the hermitage de los Desamparados. Apart from the religious celebration and demonstration (“procesión”), there is an important celebration of pagan origin in Villanueva de la Fuente. This celebration starts with a lunch and the camp setting around de hermitage. There is a bullfighting event in the afternoons
The Museum offers to the visitors a wide range of traditional tools related to the different farming trades typical in Campo de Montiel. The objects exhibited have been given by the citizens and have been restored by the City Council. It is a collection of tools and other objects which bring our memories back to not very far years.
Castillo del Cristo (Castle of the Christ)
This watchtower with triangular floor is set on a large rock that plays the role of foundation and natural moat. Beside it is documented to be an enclosure for cattle. It was a two storey tower. The way-in was a round arch doorway. The lower storey provided the access and shelter; the upper one and the flat roof were used for watching. It was a perfect visual communication point with the castles of Terrinches and Albaladejo. There is very little information on this tiny tower. It was probably built by the Order of Santiago, in the 13th Century with the purpose of a watchtower between the larger castles of the area and thus reinforcing the defensive belt around Montiel. It dominates the Annibal’s Road, that runs along the meadows at the westside of the castle.
MENCATUR, the Hunting, Tourism, Handcrafting and Typical Products Trade Fair
In a very few year scope, MENCATUR has acquired a solid position as one of the most interesting sector Fairs in Campo de Montiel. MENCATUR arises on the purpose to show the hunting potential of Campo de Montiel, for being one of the richest Districts worldwide for small wild game.
Together with the hunting business and due to the great success of the fair, other sectors have joined it since the beginning, thus the number of visitor and exhibitors grow steadily every year. It takes place in August, generally during the first fortnight.
Fiestas and traditions
Fairs and Fiestas
For centuries, these fiestas are celebrated to honour the Patron Virgin de los Desamparados. On the 1st and 2nd of September, the first day starts with the arrival of the Virgin, “la cuerda” (the rope) and the cattle trade fair with the bull festivities.
The fiesta of Corpus has been celebrated in Villanueva de la Fuente since the 15th Century. The citizens decorate the streets pavements with colourful tapestries made with dyed sawdust.
This fiesta is celebrated to honour Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados. The fiesta take place in a spectacular setting called “los Calares”, where the Hermitage of the virgin is. It is 3 kms far from the village, towards Albaladejo.
It takes place on the second weekend of May. In the surroundings of the hermitage there is an importante pilgrimage and camping site.
La Paz (the Peace)
This fiesta is celebrated to honour the Virgin de la Paz, patron of the Parish, on weekend which is closer to the 24th of January, and it is the local holyday of Villanueva de la Fuente. The previous day, called the “Visperas”, the citizens light festival lights with thyme and invite visitor to have a glass of cuerva (“sangria”) and a bread-roll that will also be shared in the Parish church next day.