Archive for May 29th, 2018

May 29, 2018

Huete, a little corner of Castilla La Mancha

Again on my off the beaten path trips , the lone road warrior in my beloved Spain. I was recently asked if have a favorite region, well all of Spain is wonderful, or as they said in the 80’s tourist slogans; Spain is everything under the sun. However, if hard press, the lonely souls of Quijote will make me choose Castilla La Mancha.

And off we go again in this land of minds and souls going to a little town less than 2K folks ,where my family enjoyed several trips and joy, this is Huete.

Huete is in the province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha region. It is in the northwest corner of the province at  54 km from Cuenca and 120 km from Madrid. It has a train station on the line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia. However, the car is king on the A3 Madrid -Valencia corridor and up to Huete on the CM 310 road.

A bit of history I like

In the 6C there were signs of a town here on the plains of Álvar Fáñez, later it was taken to mines on chalk that still abound in the region even empty.  It was later known as Wabda forming part of the corus of Santabariyya or Shant Bariya on the plains of a castle with much of it walled. In the 9C and 10C was a very important center of the tribes of Hawwara and Madyuna under the family of Banu Di-L-Nun that later took control of the area in the taifa of Toledo (1031-1085).  It was here at Huete that  al-Qádir, the last king of Toledo left the territory after giving in to the forces of king Alfonso VI even before becoming king at Valencia.  It is the legend that under the patronage of the Saints Justa and Rufina on the encirclement of the Almohades Arabs and after failing on the last offensive there was a huge storm that filled the moats of the castle with water so avoiding a collapse and giving them time for the forces of king Alfonso VI to arrived to finally defeat them.

In 1164 took place here the Battle of Huete where the troops of the House of Castro under Fernando Rodríguez de Castro “the Castilian”, defeated the troops of the House of Lara ordered by the Count Manrique Pérez de Lara, that died in combat as well as his brothers  Álvaro and Nuño. The battle was a result of the turbulent minority age of Alfonso VIII of Castilla, winner of the battle of  Navas de Tolosa, that needed to fight amongst others his uncle king Fernando II of León, that had taken the city of Toledo in 1162.

During the period of the Trastámara (house of  Segovia and Isabel I the Catholic) in 1388, king Juan I gave Huete to dame or  Doña Constanza, oldest daughter of  Pedro I and Duchesse of Lancaster, in order to solved the dynastic problem at the moment to reach the Castilian throne.  In the Peace of Troncoso and treaty of  Bayonne it was agreed that together with Guadalajara, Olmedo ,and Medina del Campo, Huete, and all its lands and rights were given to  Doña Constanza,and that her  daughter, Catalina, was to married the infante Enrique, adopting both as Princes the heir to the throne of Castile and for the first time the title of Prince of Asturias (title to the heir to the throne of Spain even today). By the 15C Juan II gave the title of city and the Catholic kings in 1477 gave the city the title of Noble and Loyal city that has it since then. As an anecdote in the 19C king Fernando VII spent the summer for a few days here in 1816.

Things to see in Huete

Urban wall ramparts of Huete. Andalucian origins with several reforms and on the transfer to the kingdom of Castille in the 12C .Done with several different techniques and materials such as cemente, stones, and ceramics. You have the moon castle or Castillo de Luna  the fortress of  Wabda,  also of Andalucian origins done on top of a Roman that still can be seen on the walls.


Palacio Episcopal de Huete, or episcopal palace built in thrre phases, on which you see from the first one the shield of the bishop Solano end of the 18C ; second done by bishop Palafox early 19C with the central part unfinished.  In 1570 the first jesuist arrived to found the college and later the college of letters and grammar; they were sent off in 1767, and the building was inactive just with clerical function. The building goes thru many changes such as second half of the 16C you see it on the facade on the left of the main gate . In the first third of the 17C the  convent house with a patio and nice quarters were done.  The Church started building it in 1700 and you can see the nice entrance gate where the Royal arms and the inscription by king Carlos III that ordered in 1770 the transfer of the parish of San Nicolás de Medina,known then as San Nicolás el Real. The place now a parish Church the brotherhood of the Virgen de Guadalupe ordered built the Chapel in roccoco style.  In 1795,the brotherhood of Saint John the Evangelist coming from the parish of Santa María de Atienza, built the Chapel for them here. Today, the Church is manage by the brotherhoods of  San Antonio Abad, Our Lady of  Loreto, and St John the Evangelist that does a very important festival in the second weekend of May.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Atienza or Our Lady of Atienza Church. This is one of the 10 parishes that during the middle ages and even modern times had Huete and this was the oldest; probably on top of an old mosque. The style is artistic with a gothic ,a rare example in the Province of Cuenca. In 1790 , the Church falls off leaving only the absinthe that is kept as a hermitage. Iglesia de Santo Domingo or the Saint Domingo Church was built in the 14C with sisters coming from the area of Amasatrigo thanks to donations by Catalina de Lancáster, Queen of Castille and Lady of Huete.  The current Church is from 1620 .There were renovations from 1621 to 1642. One of its members was the bishop of Astorga ,don Diego de Veancos y Salcedo, buried in one of the Chapels decorated with his bishop’s arms.  The convent was clear of its duties in 1835, and sold losing even the cloister done in the last third of the 16C.


Torre del Reloj  or Clock tower; from the very early times the tower was still at its current location even if the designs were done in 1795,  after many stop for lack of funds, were finally finished in  1805 . The La puerta de Almazán gate call like this because it connects with the parish Church of  San Nicolás de Almazán, was the most important of the walled ramparts.


Convento de Jesús y María. or Jesus and Mary convent. It is built on an elevation where the hermitage of Santa Lucía,from which the Bells were used to put in the convent bell tower. Worked began in 1554 ,and finished in 1576 when Sisters of the order of San Lorenzo Justiniano coming from  Cuenca to house here.  This is one of the best examples of the Cuenca architecture of the 16C, a rectangular level around a cloister with arcs of half point on square and boxed pillars, a very innovative construction at the time.


Iglesia de San Pedro or St Peter’s Church in ruins of a Church from the 17C with a nice Chapel with gothic designs of the 16C.  Ermita de San Sebastián  or hermitage.  In this spot it was known as the quarry of Chopos , where a vegetable garden was done dating from 1689,and renovated in 1737.

Some nice museums indeed that have not seen all are:

Museo Florencio de la Fuente , in the monastery of Mercy above and very nice indeed with a collection of international contemporary arts by such as Villatoro, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Bores, Camille Corot, Pedro de Matheu, Vicet Ochoa, José Bautista etc, under donations by others such as the museum founder to the city of  Huete.

Museo de Arte Sacro or museum of sacre art; you have here an excellent collection of religious art such as the Cross of San Nicolás de Almazán, Cross of Santa María de Atienza, done in 1618 in silver, told one of the best Castilian crosses of the 17C that is shown in processions during the festival of St John the Evangelist around May 6 each year.  You will see a wonderful ivory Christ from the 17C and a collection of ornaments and dresses such as the cape of the Captives or manto de los Cautivos, knitted in the  Philippine style of the 18C for the Virgen de las Mercedes.

Museo Etnográfico , bringing the collection of tools used for the trades in the area such as a collection of tools for use in agriculture and cattle ranching. Museo de la Fragua or wrough iron museum with a collection of tools for this kind of work.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

City of Huete in Spanish with on left column info on Arte y Patrimonio ( arts and heritage) and Museos (museums).

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Huete in English: Tourism Castilla La Mancha on Huete

And again, hope you enjoy this natural trip to natural and soul searching of my beloved Spain. WE really had enjoyed this trips even my dear late wife Martine..

Remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: , ,
May 29, 2018

This is unique San Clemente, Cuenca!

When we made our runs of Castilla La Mancha in the last couple of years, after I convince my dear late wife Martine to come here. It was not easy to convince as she wanted to go elsewhere in Spain. However, my adolecent and youthful days were spent around here, and it is like a pilgrimage each time around my beloved Spain. So on a sunny day of 23C in my neck of the woods let me tell you about this town in the Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha region.

We were base in the serrania de Cuenca high on the mountains at 1400 meters, and used it as a base to go by car all over the Castilian countryside.  I have remote recolletions of been by here before, but we decided to pass by and check it out with the family. It was a memorable stop and we love it. This is San Clemente, another memorable spot of nice family souvenirs that today are stronger than ever. She would still reminded me about it ,and I am sure , it would have been easy to convince her again to vacation by these lands.

San Clemente is in the southeast part of the  province of Cuenca  historically it is known as the town of  Mancha Alta, inside the  Mancha de Montearagón area, this name came from the fact that the Castilians traveling to Valencia  (once conquered by king Jaime I of Aragon in 1238) climb up or went up towards Aragon, and therefore the high or alta on the name that was at a higher altitude.

IT is about 110 km from Cuenca, 80 km from Albacete 197 km from Madrid ,and 200 km from Valencia on the banks of the Rus river and the roadcross of the  A-43 and AP-36, and only 30 km from the A-3 that connects fast and free Madrid to Valencia. The signalisation of the roads are AP-36 ( Autopista Ocaña-La Roda: Ocaña – La Roda), A-43 (Autovía Extremadura-Comunidad Valenciana), A-3 ( Autovía del Este: Madrid – Valencia) connecting itself to the  A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. The A-31 ( Autovía de Alicante: Atalaya del Cañavate – La Roda – Albacete – Almansa – Alicante) connects also with the A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. Other roads and directions are the N-310 ( Manzanares – San Clemente – Villanueva de la Jara)  N-301 ( Ocaña – Cartagena) ; CM-3009 ( Saelices – San Clemente),  CM-3112 (San Clemente – Honrubia) ; CM-3117 ( San Clemente – Minaya). N is National and CM is communal roads.

It could be tempting by many but I would not do this trips with bus or train, not comfortable in my opinion. However, there are buses and a station in San Clemente connecting to Madrid, Albacete, Cuenca, Valencia, and severall other towns. The train station closest are in Villarrobledo at about 29 km and  Albacete at 80 km.  Albacete has AVE connection to correspond with any city in Spain using RENFE.

A bit of history I like.

Here, there was a Goda town venerating the Virgin and once the Moors invasion the Virgin was hidden in a rock inside a cave.  On this spot, later came to live a Moorish people but a pastor found the Virgin in a cave known locally as the Mora or moor at the foot of a castle. The Virgen de Rus is today the Patron Saint of  San Clemente, an a Church was built at the foot of the old Castle.  The name of the town comes from a knight that was installed here name  Clemente Pérez de Rus, the name of the castle before the founding of the town.  The conquest of Cuenca and Alarcón by king  Alfonso VIII and later defeat of the moors at Navas de Tolosa in 1212, is the cause for the annexation of San Clemente and its territory in Castile.  Depe nding of the town castle of Alarcón it passes to be part of the Marquis of Villena under the lordship of the Manuel, first and later of the Infantes of Aragon finally passing to Don Juan Pacheco, Master of the order of Santiago (St James), and first marquis of  Villena.  In 1445,  Don Juan Pacheco raised it to a City recognized by king Juan II of Aragón and Navarra ,and  Enrique IV of Castilla.  The town of San Clemente took side with queen Isabel la Católica on the fight with Juana for the right to rule in Castile and rises up against the power of the Marquis of Villena that sided with Juana. Once the war of succession over, the Catholic Kings incorporated the town into the crown and freeing it from the association of  Alarcón; receiving the visit of the Catholic Kings (Isabel and Fernando)  in 1488 as gratitude for the services rendered to them. During the follow up war of Succession was the headquarters of the Duke of Berwich showing support for king Felipe V that gave the town the title of most noble , most loyal and trusted city.

In the 19C during the War of Independance of 1808-1814 (against Napoleon’s France) it offered resistance to them as Napoleon sent a division Frére to reinforce the army of Moncey  that were operating in Valencia and Dupont that was in Andalucia. However, the Frére division could not do what it was intended due in part to the resistance of the local people of San Clemente, amongst them was the local heroe Bibiano Hellín. During the Spanish Civil War it was built here an aerodrome and was the home of the 3ª squadron of the group 12 of Russian bombers  Tupolev SB-2 (katiuska) and some Russian fighters planes such as the biplanes Polikarpov I-15.

San Clemente San Clemente

Main things to see in San Clemente, in my opinion.

At the Roman times both Republican and Imperial there was a Roman bridge to cross the Rus river with three arcs and still the best preserve of the Roman bridges in the province.

Casa Consistorial, or city hall (ayuntamiento) it is a renaissance style building on the Classic line on the corner in a rectangular form and two levels and a tower on top with the coat of arms of the Habsburgs of Austria. The facade falls into the silhouette of the Plaza Mayor that in the older days was completely encircled . The construction of the house is from the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. It was built and renovated thereafter between 1566 and 1622.

San Clemente San Clemente

Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol ,or parish Church of St James the Apostle is on the renaissance style from the 16C with elements Gothic from early in the 15C and some Baroque from the 17C.  It is a basilical Church with three nerfs and huge pillars and chapters and starets coupolas.

San Clemente

Torre Vieja,or old tower, was built in the 15C before 1445 during the reign of king Juan II .It is a tower with a square built and it is the oldest construction in San Clemente.  Currently it is the Tourist office and from 1998 the Etnographic museum of Labranza,

San Clemente

Castillo de Santiago de la Torre  or castle of James of the tower is on the west of San Clemente,on the banks of the Záncara river.  It is a medieval castle that belonged to the Order of ST James or Santiago as well as the Marquis of Villena and the Catholic Kings. However, last in 2017 was in bad shape and hopefully it will be safeguarded for future generations.

The main event here is to come during the Festival of Rus or Fiestas de Rus on the Sunday of resurrection when groups of young and young at heart come together in the main square or Plaza Mayor  below the columns of the old city hall with money in cash to begin one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Castilla-La Mancha. The auction of the walks of the Virgen de Rus. The square is full of people on foot with notary, and brotherhoods houses that within half an hour of uses and costums starts the groups putting a quantity of money on the table for all to see, each group would do the same until the last one and on the last minute push for the highest amount ;even bats have been given to the groups to reach the last table with the highest amount. The auction of the Cross follows the same ritual but with younger groups . Until the spectacle is done and all go to Mass.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this nice town of Castilla here:

tourist office of San Clemente:

city of San Clemente with things to see in Spanish:

There, a new town for you maybe… this is another of the jewels you will find in nice Castilla La Mancha, the region of Don Quixote of Cervantes Saavedra.

And remember, happy travels , good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: