A nostalgic look back on Alarcon!

Yes indeed, this was family trips on a time we were together and my dear late wife Martine was with us. To be honest, I have heard of this town in the history of Spain I follow since birth.. however, never was on it. We were looking forward to visit Valencia when as a child I had an aunt living just south in El Saler. I decided to take the family and on the way there I saw Alarcon and decided on the way back to stop by. This we did later on as well; nice memories of Alarcon. I like to give you an introduction to the town and major spots and see my other posts for details. This one will be on my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy it as we did!

A nostalgic look back on Alarcon, indeed.  On one of our summer runs to Spain, decided to see smaller towns of my beloved Spain, so the turn came for Alarcon. It was memorable indeed, and we should be back.

Alarcon is in the province of Cuenca in the Castilla La Mancha autonomous community about 87 km from Cuenca, the capital of the province.  Alarcon sits on a rocky hill almost completely encircled by a loop of the Jùcar river. In the 8C an Arab fortress was built on the promontory above the river, a useful defensive position. Stone walls and 5 turrets surround the castle of Alarcon. (see post) One of these turrets sits right on the river and enabled the inhabitants to draw fresh water even during a siege. After a long occupation by the Moors the castle was taken by the Castilians during the Reconquest in 1184 following a nine-month siege. As well as the castle admire the main square with its old town hall and the 16C San Juan Bautista Church and stroll through the medieval streets. The church houses some excellent murals by Jesus Mateo. The Santa Maria Church is a lovely Renaissance church. (see posts)

The history of Alarcón is governed by its role as a stronghold; however, the castle is not the town’s only precious heritage: it also claims a rich architectural variety, both religious (the Churches of Santo Domingo de Silos, San Juan Bautista, the Santa Trinidad, and Santa María del Campo, as well as the Hermitage of Santa María de la Orden), and civil (the town hall, the House of Villena, and the Castañeda Palace).

Castle of Alarcon, is of Muslim origin, this medieval fortress was constructed in the 8C and conquered by King Alfonso VIII in 1184. The castle sits atop a promontory inside a bend of the Júcar River, creating a formidable stronghold whose battlements provide an impressive view to the border with Valencia. The keep, built around 1460 by Castilian nobleman Juan Pacheco, serves as the fortress’s trademark feature. The historical figure Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena, who wrote the Tales of Count Lucanor, once lived within the castle walls. It opened its doors as a parador hotel in 1966.

Church of Santo Domingo de Silos, This is a 13C church built in the late Romanesque style. Of the original structure, both the semicircular apse in the nave and the southern portal have been preserved. The portal’s splayed arch consists of three colonnettes per door jamb, capped by pointed proto-Gothic archivolts. In the 16C, the square tower and the walls of the nave were built following Renaissance designs, while the Baroque period saw the modification of the ceiling with a ribbed barrel vault. Today the church has been adapted for use as an exhibition hall and auditorium.

Art Center – The Murals of Alarcón; Old Church of San Juan Bautista. The current structure dates from the 16C as a replacement of the previous Romanesque building. It has a single nave covered with a barrel vault, a portal in the Herrerian style, and a tower that remains from the original church. Buttresses stabilize the lateral walls; however, contrary to custom, they are located in the interior and thus divide the space into smaller areas that serve as tiny chapels. In 1994, the young Spanish painter Jesús Mateo began the project of covering the totality of the old structure in a set of mural paintings. it is considered one of the greatest examples of contemporary art worldwide.

Church of the Santa Trinidad . This Church comprises two naves, dating from the 13C and 16C respectively, although the vault in the older nave was built in the 15C. Of note are its pointed ribbed side arches, its chancel arch, and its Renaissance altar. The original Romanesque apse, circular in form, has been replaced by the current rectangular one. The portal is typically Plateresque; it bears the coats of arms of the Marquis of Villena, and of his contemporary, Bishop. The Church tower stands on a portal known as the arco de la villa (town gate).

Church of Santa María del Campo .This Church presently serves as a parish Church. Erected at the beginning of the 16C, it was constructed in the Plateresque style and features Gothic tracery in the vault. The portal dates from the middle of the same century and was built by Esteban Jamete (born Etienne Jamet) of Orléans, who is also supposed to have made the altarpiece with scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, as well as the sacristy. I put up the picture here because not elsewhere ok.

The only drawback we had is as we were pressed for time, the wait at the restaurant was too long and the reception not to Spanish standards of welcoming. So bad we forgot the resto name lol! The rest was wonderful, history, architecture, old , just what I like. Indeed, we were on the run and expecting perhaps quicker service but of course, this is Spain ::)

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

A wordpress site been use as City Hall on tourist info by a local(see right hand column iglesias and palaces) in Spanish: http://aytoalarcon.es/

The Castilla La Mancha tourist office on Alarcon in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/alarcon-44031/descripcion/

Hope it helps to bring you out to the deep Spain, the soul of the Spanish people , travel to know and you will know why more travel is needed. Alarcon is nice indeed and memories forever!

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

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