Monumental and noble village
Villanueva de los Infantes is the village with most turist attraction in the Campo de Montiel, its visit is a must for it is one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. It is fond of owning one of the most important historical landmarks from the baroque and renaissance periods in la Mancha. The urban plan is symmetric and it offers a lot of interesting architectonical places, such as the impressive Plaza Mayor (Main Square). Among them, a lot of civil and religious buildings, palaces and popular houses of singular beauty are to be highlighted.
The Plaza Mayor (main square) and the church of San Andrés
The Plaza Mayor is neoclassical style and constitutes a key element in the urban design where most of the religious and political institutions settled. It is dated on the early years of the 17th century. Its plan is trapezoidal. At the north end, the church of San Andrés and the Chancellor’s House, that joins the religious presence within the civil scope. Its gateway dated in 1612 is the last of the existing three in the parish group elements. At the south there are some large wooden balustrades supported by footings. The architecture of this front is defined by two elements of enhanced horizontality, split by Cervantes street. There are three stone storeys, the two upper ones have wooden continuous balconies, rectangular openings, and the superior storey has a gallery covered by eaves on a wooden base.
On the West and East sides, there is a string of round arches. One of them is the City Hall and the Court of Justice. There are three storeys, the lower one with round arches, the following one has balconies with triangular gables, which in the City Hall transform into a round loggia supported by Ionic half columns. The balcony was used for the authorities to watch the celebrations in the square. On its façade it stands out the coat of arms given to the village by the Maestre (Head) of the Order of Santiago, Don Enrique de Aragón. In the quarters that the Cross of Santiago forms, it can be seen the arms of Castile, those of Leon and the bars of the kingdom of Aragón, in which Don Enrique was infant.
Of special interest is the house at the beginning of the current Ramón Herrera street that interrupts the main balcony of the square. Its façade from the 17th century has three storeys, the lower one is trabeated with pillars and broken gable. The second one is trabeated with pillars and triangular gable, as well as the third one that ends up with a cornice on corbels. This façade is related to the beginnings of the Plaza Mayor and shows the evolution of its architecture until today.
The church of San Andrés appears on to the Plaza Mayor with its impressive façade of Classicist style, with a deep round arch supported by Ionic pillars and a heraldry of the Order of Santiago on the shaft. This Herrerian gateway is due to Francisco Cano. The other two façades, the north façade and the south façade are Plateresque.
Inside there is a synthesis of artistic styles. It is a gothic project. Its central aisle is divided in three segments covered with groined vaulting. In this magnificent monument, in a chapel covered by a gothic stared vaulting, where Don Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas is buried.
El bello conjunto Histórico-Artístico de los siglos XVI y XVII de Villanueva de los Infantes, sorprende por su armoniosa personalidad arquitectónica
The Hospital of Santiago and the church of del Remedio
The building is from the 17th century and has got a simple façace with the village coat of arms. Its origin is from the Middle Ages, as it is already mentioned in the Relaciones Topográficas de Felipe II (topographical report and map) for being a place donated by Pérez Canuto “where poor people stay, sick people recover and pilgrims shelter”. It was rebuilt by the Order of Santiago in 1631-1636, as the inscriptions on the façade show.
The gate to the Santiago Hospital is constituted by a large round arch, with pad ashlars. On top, over a cornice, there is a pad grilled trabeated opening. At both sides, we can find the village heraldry. In the way in, there is a cobbled hallway that gives way to a central courtyard. Nowadays it is a Social Centre.
Next, the church of del Remedio, that already existed in 1500. It was built by the Shepherds Brotherhood. In the 17th century (1639) it was embedded into the hospital of the Military Order of Santiago for pilgrims and sick people. Inside there is an altarpiece with two grooved columns with Corinthian capitals and inscriptions referred to the Order of Santiago, which reminds us of the strong relation of this land to such Military Order.
Alhóndiga (corn-wheat exchange)
The outside is defined by two trabeated gateways with Doric pillars of pad ashlars. On the lintel we find the heraldry coat of arms of the village and on the upper part, we see some grilled openings with jambs and pad ashlars and a large shield related to the Order of Santiago.
It was formerly built as a wheat storehouse and Exchange, to manage the busy commercial activity since the middle of 16th Century, until 1719, when it became the council prison, being Felipe V the king. It is curious the large amount of engravings made by the prisoners on the stone walls and columns. Its rectangular courtyard has two to three round arch openings supported by wide cylindrical columns with Tuscan capitals. Currently it hosts the Culture Centre and the Municipal Library.
Los Fonte’s Palace
Its façade is defined by masonry ashlars mixed with brick walls. The openings are regularly spread out and the central gate shows cushioned ashlars and profiled plaques. The inside is distributed around a square courtyard, on eight columns with footings.
Casa del Arco (the House of the Arch)
La Casa del Arco was originally built in the middle of the 17th century, although it preserves its classicism. Its Neoclassical façade reminds us of the Parish Church. The gate has two sections. The lower section trabeated between double half Doric columns. The upper one trabeated between Tuscan pillars. It ends up in a semicircular broken pediment. The door is full of shells in bronze as well as the ironworks and metal flaps.
Inside, the typical house design is repeated: paving hallway and noble courtyard with Ionic columns. On the well parapet it can be read the date of January 27th, 1846, and on the opposite side, March 9th, 1802. Formerly, it was the Cañuto family’s house. In front of it, once there was a “corral de comedias” (popular Golden Age outdoor theatre set up in a patio).
Casa de Los Estudios (the House of Studies)
It is also called Minor School. Formerly teaching was undertaken at the Convent School of San Francisco, which does not exist anymore. Since the 16th century, some minor schools were established to meet the cultural and training needs of the village.
At this Minor School teached Bartolomé Jiménez Patón, notable linguist, Master on Humanities and Rhetoric who strongly influenced on the philosophers and the writers of the moment. He was a friend of Don Francisco de Quevedo.
Casa Palacio del Marqués de Entrambasaguas (Palace House of Marquis de Entrambasaguas)
Its façade shows an appropriate Doric order. Trabeated entrance gate, framed by Doric columns that support an entablement with frieze of metopes. Over the cornice, a broken rolled pediment contains the upper opening. On the corner, the family coat of arms.
Casa de Sto. Tomás de Villanueva y Oratorio de Santo Tomasillo (Santo Tomás de Villanueva’s house and the Chapel of Santo Tomasillo)
The house has a solid structure of ashlars with a plain continuous balcony and an archiepiscopal heraldry of the Saint, on the corner that define the front façade. The coat of arms is divided in four quarters: in the first quarter there is a heart cross-cut by an arrow; in the second quarter there is a star; in the third quarter, a castle on some rocks and three crossbows “ballestas” (as Santo Tomás was related to the Ballesteros family), and in the fourth quarter, a lion. Currently, there is a commemorative plaque of the fourth centenary of his death.
In front of the house we find the Chapel of Santo Tomasillo. It is one of the few remaining buildings in full Baroque style. It is a small building with ashlars in the lower storey and masonry and brick work in the upper one, with a bell-gable on top. On the upper decoration there is an inscription with the statement: “Chapel hermitage at Aguados family’s house. Year 1713”.
Tribunal de la Inquisición (Tribunal of the Inquisition)
The only element that is well preserved is the front gateway with trabeated ashlars and on top, the Holy Office (Inquisition) shield easily identified by the cross, the crossed tibias and the skull. Formerly it was the prison of the Inquisition and in previous times it depended from the Tribunal of Jaen and later on, form the Tribunal of Murcia. It shows the splendour of Villanueva de los Infantes during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Convento de Santo Domingo
Founded in 1526, under the sponsorship of Juan López Gari-Fernández. In 1844, after the Mendizabal Confiscation Process (sale of Church properties), it was sold to the State who used it as a public school until 1979.
In the inner part, to highlight the cloister in red Mudejar brick with round arches on Tuscan pilasters that support the entablement that gives way to the upper storey, with trabeated openings.
Don Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas died in a cell of this convent, on Sept 8th, 1645. In April he had left the village he was lord of (la Torre de Juan Abad) and had come to Villanueva de los Infantes looking for medical care. This cell is well preserved and can be visited nowadays. Currently it is a hotel.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
The church was built in the 17th Century, following the Counter-Reformation rules. It has a Latin-cross plan, and just a nave with short arms and lateral chapels at both sides. High altar and in front, at the foot, the choir that is based on a groined vaulting. At the high altar it can be seen a magnificent Boroque altarpiece with salomonic columns, and the images of Nuetro Padre Jesús Nazareno, the Virgen de la Soledad and San Juan Apóstol. Over the altarpiece, there are some interesting murals referring to Santo Domingo.
Casa Solar Familia García del Busto (Noble House of García del Busto’s family)
It formerly belonged to the Busto’s family, one of the most ancient lineages who owned the chapel of the first and last burial of Don Francisco de Quevedo at the church of San Andrés. Its arms are in the coat of arms on the front façade, as well as on the corners of the courtyard. Since the 19th century, it belongs to the Rebuelta’s family.
Casa del Duque de San Fernando (House of the Duke of San Fernando)
Its location, on the corner of Fuente street, allows the setting of an angle heraldry over a splendid balcony, on top of which there are wooden eaves.
Iglesia del Convento de la Encarnación (Church of the Encarnación Convent)
It was founded by the Dominique Religious Order in 1598. It is a Baroque building. The gateway at Monjas and Honda street stands out. It is also interesting the façade at Cervantes street, with a high relief representing the Annunciation.
Palacio del Marqués de Melgarejo (Palace of the Marquis of Melgarejo)
It has a superb classicist façade dated on the first half of the 17th Century. On top of the neoclassical gateway the family coat of arms can be seen. The large horizontal façade has two elements with rectangular openings and balconies. It has a large two storey Neoclassicist gateway. The lower one is trabeated. The upper one is centred by a balcony between half double Ionic columns on plinths. It supports an entablement and has heraldry ornaments at both sides. The shield on the left belongs to the Baillo’s and the one to the right belongs to the Melgarejo’s. Its main courtyard stands out, in which the porticos are supported by Ionic columns and mannerist footings. There is an impressive stairway Imperial style from the 19th century, made of marvel, that splits into two stairways at the upper part. On the front there is a Modernist stained glass window with Neorenaissance decoration
Sede de la Vicaria de la Orden de Santiago en el Campo de Montiel (Head office of the Military Order of Santiago in Campo de Montiel)
This magnificent building has a trabeated seated gateway. On the upper part we find the heraldry of the Order and some inscriptions at both sides. As it states on the façade inscription “House of the Noble and Royal Convent of Uclés, head of the Order of Santiago…”. This was the head office of the Order of Santiago, as it shows the coat of arms on top of the gateway.
Casa del Caballero del Verde Gabán (House of the Knight of the Green Overcoat)
According to the tradition, it belonged to Don Diego de Miranda, Caballero del Verde Gabán and it is described by Cervantes in chapter 18 of the second parte of Don Quixote.
The Gateway shows a trabeated structure. It formerly hosted the Compañía de Jesus (a religious order), as the cross over the gate shows. The beautiful courtyard Castilian style, with porticoes supported by Tuscan columns with footings. The upper galleries keep the wooden structure. Note the typical well and the scuttle to the cellar.
Palacio del Marques de Camacho (Palace of the Marquis of Camacho)
The façade turns on a corner; the building has two storeys and a small tower supported by Tuscan stone pilasters. The angle is decorated with a beautiful heraldic coat of arms,
The gateway has two sections. The lower one is trabeated between Tuscan columns, and has a coat of arms of the Bustos on the over door frieze. The upper one is trabeated between Doric ribbed columns. The inside is structured around a square courtyard with twelve Doric columns. Nowadays, this building is a bank office.
Casa de la Pirra (House of the Pirra)
It is located in 42, Don Tomás el Médico street. Its gateway is trabeated with moldings in the lower part, whereas on the upper part it stands out a continuous balcony-pulpit, bending on a corner, with eaves similar to the balconies once used to proclaim the heroic deeds at the Crusades.
In the inside, there is a beautiful square courtyard with porticoes supported by eight Doric columns and broken profile footings.
Casa de los Portillo (House of the Portillo’s family)
It is located in 19, Don Tomás el Médico street. Its horizontal solid façade has rectangular openings of diverse size and alternate balconies. All of them have iron grilles. The gateway is trabeated with Doric pillars on ribbed pad background. It ends up with a broken little front and a cross of Calatrava (Military Order). The coat of arms at each side of the balcony correspond to the Maldonado family (the one to the left) and to de la Barreda family (the one to the right), which demonstrates a recent refurbishing of the building, as the de la Barrera family are the current owners.
Casa Solar de los Bustos. Don Jeromito (Noble house of the Bustos’ family. Don Jeromito)
Located in 44, Don Tomás el Médico street. Althouth it is known as House of Don Jeromito, it probably was the noble house of the Bustos’ family. The façade has a lower opening trabeated with mouldings and central heraldry. On the upper storey there is a balcony ending up with a broken gable that embodies the heraldry. Inside, there is an interesting rectangular courtyard with two galleries supported by Ionic columns and inverted footings.
Palacio de los Ballesteros (Palace of the Ballesteros’ family)
It is dated on the second third of the 16th century. It belonged to the Ballesteros family as it shows the heraldry on the façade. The wide gateway preserves the iron knocking flaps that are very high for the knights to use them from the horses.
On the rest of the façade it stands out the third storey that is an open gallery with arches between Tuscan brick pilasters, with influence of Vandelvira, and the corner coat of arms.
Palacio de Don Manolito
It is called after one of its recent owners. It formerly belonged to Don Fernando de Ballesteros Saavedra, Governor of Campo de Montiel and Mayor of this village. It was the main house of the Ballesteros family in the 16th century. Its façade has clear classical reminiscences. At both sides of the gateway and supported by two ancient heros (probably Theseo and Hercules) there are the coat of arms of the Ballesteros’ family and the one of the Muñoz’ family (his wife’s second name). Inside, the large courtyard with Ionic columns and inverted footings stands out. The galleries are covered by wood beams and masonry little vaulting. On the upper gallery there is the tiny chapel, covered by a polychrome vaulting. Nowadays it is a Social Centre for the Elderly and it also hosts a permanent Exhibition of local painters.
Palacio de la Familia Buenache (Palace of Buenache family)
It was built in the first half of 18th century, following the classicist aesthetic. This family was the sponsor of the church of the Encarnación. The gateway is trabeated and framed by Doric columns. The upper storey has a large balcony whose opening is framed by Doric pilasters.
Iglesia del Corpus Christi Convento de las Franciscanas (Church of the Corpus Christy, Convent of the Franciscanas (religious order)
It is the oldest in town. A solemn garden enclosed by a grille fence gives way to the church, giving to the environment a convent atmosphere. Its altarpieces stand out.
Casa del Inquisidor (House of the Inquisitor)
Located in 47, Don Tomás el Médico street. The coat of arms of the Inquisition. It shows a green cross on black background, an olive tree branch and the sword of justice over a burning bush. It belonged to the inquisitor Bartolomé Lucas Patón.
The inside is structured around a quadrangular courtyard with porticoes on Tuscan columns and footings. On the stairway there is a shield that shows the Inquisition symbols on the upper part and the cross of Calatrava on the lower part.
Iglesia de los Trinitarios (religious order)
It is located at the Plaza de la Trinidad, and formerly it was part of the old convent of the trinitarios, that was founded by the devout man Juan Bautista de la Concepción in 1603. Its style is upon the Baroque classicist typology of the convent churches, developed by the Court in the transition to the 17th century. It has a beautiful altarpiece that hosts a high quality Baroque woodwork of Nuestro Padre Jesús Rescatado.
Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Antigua (Shrine of the virgin Nuestra Señora de la Antigua)
It is located 5 kms far from Villanueva de los Infantes, on the right bank of the river Jabalón. The outside façade is made on masonry, it has a trabeated gateway with an iron grilled balcony and a coat of arms of the Order of Santiago. The inside courtyard is quadrangular and cloistered. The church gateway is Baroque. Inside, the nave covered with barrel vault decorated with groins, arches on Tuscan pilasters and a continuous frieze. The Baroque altarpiece with Salomonic columns, in the centre the niche of the virgin de la Antigua, a woodwork from the 13th century. In the surroundings we can see and enjoy one of the resting sites of Don Quixote’s Route.
Yacimiento arqueológico Jamila (Archeologic site of Jamila)
Building of 50×40 meters with 14 large columns dated on the 13th and 14th centuries. Some Iberian and Roman remains have been found, too. In the medieval period it was used with religious purposes and ended up burnt out.
Puente de la Virgen de la Antigua (Bridge of the Virgin de la Antigua)
It has three arches over the Jabalón river, on the Royal Road to Andalusia. It is dated between the 16th and 17th centuries. It shows an inscription and a coat of arms of a sponsor, on the side facing downstream.
Puente romano de Triviño (Roman bridge of Triviño)
It is a viaduct of more than 100 meters length and 6 arches over the Jabalón river, on the way that linked the High Andalusia region and the Plateau. It is the result of consecutive enlargements of a Roman bridge, such as the one accomplished by Carlos III, in 1786.
“In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind…”
A team of scientists from the University Complutense, formed by ten experts in Geography, History, Philology, Sociology, Mathematics and Information Sciences, leaded by Francisco Parra Luna, Sociology professor; Santiago Petschen, International Relations and Manuel Fernández Nieto, Literature, were trying during years to find out the answer to the question set out by one of the major literature masterpieces ever written: Don Quixote of La Mancha.
By means of diverse methodologies, especially the speed developed by an ass at normal rate, the mythical dwelling of Don Quixote was set in Villanueva de los Infantes. Upon this study, Cervantes could have located his legendary hero at this village perhaps “because it is the geographical, administrative and cultural centre of the Campo de Montiel”. The authors of this study presented the possible methodology used at a congress in Lisbon.
The last rymes by Francisco de Quevedo
A group of researchers from the Legal Medicine School of the University Complutense of Madrid have been able to demonstrate the authenticity of the remains of Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas, found buried in the crypt of Santo Tomás, located in the church of Villanueva de los Infantes, where the writer stayed the last days of his life. After his last exile in León, in 1639, the author of El Buscón retires to his “Señorío” (Lordship) of Torre de Juan Abad. When he felt deadly ill, he moves to the Convent of the Dominicos, in Villanueva de los Infantes, where he died on the 8th September, 1645.
It is said that his grave was sacked after some days by a knight who wanted the gold spurs that the corpse was wearing. This knight would die as a fair punishment for such a misdeed. In Villanueva de los Infantes, visitors can visit the cell in which Quevedo died and the chapel where his remains rest.
La Fiesta del Pimiento, el Mercadillo Cervantino y las Muestras Nacionales del Folclore (the Pepper Fiesta, the Cervantine open market and the National Folk Festival)
Every year, on the last days of August and the first ones of September, Villanueva de los Infantes celebrates one of the most popular fiestas in Campo de Montiel: the Pepper Fiesta, the Cervantine Open Market and the National Folk Festival.
Villanueva de los Infantes shows the quality and promotes one of the most typical dishes of the Campo de Montiel cuisine: the delicious “pisto manchego” (deep of fried tomato and peppers), made with the best peppers of this land.
This huge “pisto manchego” is cooked and provided to more than 8.000 people, among local citizens and visitors, who increase the number of participants every year. The size of the “pisto” is so gigantic that the pan used to cook it has to be moved by a crane.
Associations, City Councils and volunteers collaborate in the arrangement of the “pisto”, specially to cut such an amount of peppers.
Groups of friends camp around the “pisto” site on those days, giving an unique festive atmosphere that every year counts on more participants.
The main streets of Villanueva de los Infantes host rows of stalls with a medieval character, making up a nice Cervantine Open Market. Visitors can enjoy the charanga bands, Don Quixote’s performances and other festive and cultural events that take place along the market.
To complete these Fiestas and for those who are fond of the folk music, the National Folk Festival of Villanueva de los Infantes takes place at Plaza Mayor, in which groups and associations of dancers and chorus from all over Spain are invited.
Fiestas and traditions
Los Mayos a las Damas y a las Cruces (typical rymes to the ladies and to the Holy Crosses) They take place on the eves of 30 April and 2 May.
Encuentros Cervantinos y Quevedianos (Conferences on Cervantes and Quevedo). In July and Sept.
Certamen Internacional de Poesía de la Orden Literaria Francisco de Quevedo (Poetry International contest) On 28 August.
Festival Internacional de Música Clásica (International Cassical Music Festival). July-August.
Jornadas Cervantinas, Día del Pimiento y Muestras Nacionales de Folclore (Pepper Fiesta, Cervantine market and Folk Festival). The first weekend in September.
Fair and fiestas. From 26 to 30 August.
Fiestas to the Patron Saint. 8 and 18 September.