Archive for April 5th, 2022

April 5, 2022

The Barefoot Carmelites of the Convent of Santa Ana of Villanueva de la Jara!

I am gladly back in my beloved Spain, everything under the Sun and my dream land of Castilla La Mancha. This time will update this older post on the off the beaten path site but deep down in the La Mancha territory. A wonderful town full of history and architecture is Villanueva de la Jara and in it ,it houses the wonderful historical Barefoot Carmelites of the Convent of Santa Ana. Let me tell you more about it.

Villanueva de la Jara, is a town in the province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It belongs to the region of La Manchuela.  The town rises between the Júcar river, natural border between the Mancha Castellana, and the Castilian borders that extend towards the Levant, and the Valdemembra river, tributary of the previous river.  Villanueva de la Jara is well connected as it passes through the town the N-320 that runs from Cuenca to Albacete and the N-310 that runs from Villanueva de la Jara to Manzanares, and is 13 km from the A-3 autovia de Madrid-Valencia. The Madrid-Cuenca-Albacete-Levante AVE train also passes through its municipal area. We arrived by the A-3 highway/motorway towards Valencia taking exit 186 to join the CUV-8307, (Cuenca province road) a few km later we took the N-310 road, which links Villanueva de la Jara with Manzanares (Ciudad Real). Another route that passes through the town is the CM-220, which runs between the cities of Cuenca and Albacete.

A bit of history I like on Villanueva de la Jara:  After the Arab rule the King of Castile, Alfonso VIII, reconquered the towns of the area. During this time, some neighbors of Alarcón traveled 4 leagues (about 19 km) towards the south founding the town, at first like a dependent village of Alarcón and governed under the jurisdiction of the lordship of Villena and the Crown of Castile. The town has the title of Villa or city due to the support given to Queen Isabel I, the Catholic during the War of Castilian Succession, in which Diego López Pacheco, Marquis of Villena and Lord of Alarcón, fought in favor of the other candidate for the throne of Castile, Juana la Beltraneja. In the Spanish Civil War was one of the bases of the leftist Republican  Army and the International Brigades. In Villanueva de la Jara were George Orwell, Willy Brandt and Josip Broz Tito among many others, within the left leaning International Brigades, the Comitern and the Lincoln Brigade. On the outskirts of the town there are bunkers of what was an airfield during wartime.

A bit on the Convent of the Carmelites: The Convent of the Carmelites was founded by Santa Teresa de Jesús in 1580. It is composed of Church,Convent and Cloister. It is an isolated building that forms a whole block and surrounded by walls. Inside, the 17C paintings of the altarpiece stand out, as well as a magnificent Mudejar-style wooden roof that covers the presbytery forming a 32-pointed star. It also highlights the tomb of Venerable Ana de San Agustín, who was in  charge  of the convent once Santa Teresa left Villanueva de la Jara. It is located at Calle Santa Ana. The convent is private as nuns still there, the church is open.


The Barefoot Carmelites of the Convent of Santa Ana of Villanueva de la Jara ,13C, founded by Santa Teresa de Jesus, it was now done for her 500 years built  a Teresian center, on the date on which the Saint arrived at the town in 1580 (21 February). The Center, which represents an interpretation of the book of the Moradas de Santa Teresa de Jesús (lodgings of Saint Teresa of Jesus), can be visited from the week following its inauguration by all those who are interested in following the traces of Teresa. Visits to say Center will be arranged through the Municipal Tourism Office of Villanueva de la Jara.


Teresa, the Carmelite Saint, wanderer, arrived a cold February 21, 1580 to institute her Rule to some pious women, and project her convent around the Hermitage of Santa Ana. Everything happened to her in La Jara. During the days that she remained in the town, until breaking an arm, next to the well, the same that today presides over the garden. After her leaving, she left her companion, today Venerable Ana de San Agustín, whose body rests at the foot of the Church, next to the Choir. And the Saint, restless and enterprising, not only left her footprints in the work of her daughters; the friars of Socorro were brought up, to raise them around the devotion of the local Patron ,a carving of the 14C brought from Rome, the Convent of Carmen, of which today the immense Church remains.  The highlight of the temple, without a doubt, is the beautiful coffered ceiling that is preserved to perfection. The Church has three beautiful altarpieces, as well as two low Choirs and one high Choir. Inside is the venerated sepulcher of Ana de San Agustín.


Saint Teresa de Jesus ,arrived accompanied by four nuns, constituted that same day what was her thirteenth Foundation in the context of the Carmel Reform. This reform, promoted by Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint John of the Cross, had as its objective the return to a theocentric life, based on the prefects of simplicity and poverty. In addition to the company of religious women, legends say that Saint Teresa brought with her two sacred images, one representing the Child Jesus and another in honor of the Virgin of the Dove. Santa Teresa, who spent a whole month in the town, left with her march the so-called Community of Barefoot Carmelites, formed then by the nine local pious and the four nuns who went with her, appointing as prioress Ana de San Agustin.

The town of Villanueva de la Jara on its history

The Castilla La Mancha region tourist office on the convent :

The Theresian footprints webpage on Saint Theresa in Villanueva de la Jara :

There you go folks ,now another off the beaten path gem of my beautiful Castilla La Mancha in my beloved Spain. This is the real Spain away from mass tourism and the real history of the kingdom of Spain, Enjoy Villanueva de la Jara and its Carmel Convent.

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

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April 5, 2022

The Parish Church San Miguel Arcángel of Uña!

Let me take you deep into my dear Spain. I have written before on the marvelous natural spots in the Serrania de Cuenca mountain range and this includes the village of Uña or nails. Let me tell you a bit more on the main monument there. Hope you enjoy it as I

Uña is in the province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha, located next to the lagoon of the same name (see post) on the right bank of the Júcar river (see post). The village is only 36 km from the capital, Cuenca. I like to tell you a bit on the Parish Church San Miguel Arcàngel. The name is Saint Michael the Archangel.


I take you and me back into memory lane to our wonderful home for several years traveling in the area. I know I sound nostalgic and I am, always looking forward to be back. The family came here together and we love it! We rented house at 1400 meters in the mountains or Serrania de Cuenca. (See posts).  However, the beautiful natural beauty that even us not trekkers feels is worth the visit. We headed back to our base up in the mountain, but having done so early we took an extra ride up the Serrania de Cuenca to as much as 1900 meters ( about 6270 feet) seeking lovely villages such as Uña.  You need to go by car up the mountain on the local road  CM-2105.

This Parish Church of San Miguel Arcángel,you will notice a carving of the saint presides over the entrance. It was built in the 13C and later restored and modified in the 16C, a time when the population acquired more importance due to the transhumance of cattle. It has a single nave and its bell tower stands out. It is a building made of masonry, which has a steeple and a wooden gabled roof. Located at Plaza de la Constitucion, 1; the main street in the village.

una-church-san migule archeangel belltower-aug16

una-church san migule archeangel-aug16

The view from the regional road CM 2105 , will show a town on a hill where its houses, of mountain tradition, seem almost hanging on it. However, if you approach the Laguna (lagoon/lake) you will see how the town descends from the Plaza de la Constitución. Through the Calle del Horno and Calle de Las Fraguas you can see the layout of other popular houses of great beauty. You will be surprised by its landscapes, its trails, its beautiful lagoon, its flora and fauna, its unique corners surrounded by Nature and the peace and tranquility that will surround you at any time of the year. For nature lovers, a must.

The Cuenca province tourist office on Uña

The Castilla La Mancha regional tourist office on Uña :

The Protected parks of the region of Castilla La Mancha on the Natural Park of the Serrania de Cuenca :

There you go folks, this is real country an area of Spain still untouched by tourism in mass, and Uña is a wonderful spot to enjoy with the family. I know it brings lots of wonderful souvenirs for ours. It is nature at its best with plenty of water!!

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

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April 5, 2022

Curiosities of Arcas del Villar !

In my road warrior ways in my dear Spain, I cross so many towns seems sometimes to forget in my vault of pictures, I have written on the church before, but need to tell you more of it, As Spain ,everything under the Sun! We have wonderful memories of my dear late wife Martine and the boys, always on the road warrior ways to find jewels in the arid lands of Don Quijote! And we arrived in the Province of Cuenca , in the autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha to the nice small town of Arcas del Villar. I like to tell you a bit more on this off the beaten path jewel, and on my black and white series, no pictures. Here we had a 4×4 car ,but with little time and rough roads decided to just go around it on the roads, however, is on the list for a return trip eventually.

Arcas del Villar is located 8 km from Cuenca by the N-420 road  ,very popular indeed ,at an altitude of 959 meters. You ,also, can reach it from Cuenca on the road N320a and then the local CM 220.

In the town including several small villages, the highest peak is the  Monte Talayuelo at 1273 meters. It has a mountain pass call Puerto La Tórdiga at 1200 meters. The town is cross by the San Martin river and has several lakes on the complex Lagunar de Arcas, this declared a Natural Reserve. If dwelling into nature, the Lagunar de Arcas or lagoons are a must.

Talayuelo is a mountain. The summit is occupied by numerous communication repeater antennas used for radio links between the city of Cuenca and the rest of Spain. The port Tordiga in the Mount Talayuelo is even more country and need specially a 4X4 vehicule. It is accessed by car on the CM 220 by a road in good condition that leaves from the slopes of the port Tórdiga, and goes between fallows until entering the zone of the lower mount and woodland before the summit of Mount Talayuelo. Also at this point we find the geodesic vertex of Talayuelo, which has a stone structure, which, if you climb it, you will enjoy even more impressive views, so they say.

The Lagunar de Arcas lagoons are distributed among the towns of Arcas del Villar, Valdetórtola and Villar de Olalla. The total of the reserve is made up of an area of ​​219 hectares and stands out for its geomorphological interest, as it is one of the few gypsum karstic systems in Europe. The protected area includes some thirty sinkholes (funnel-shaped sinkholes in the land) and uvulas (the union of two sinkholes), most of which contain water. In fact, you can count up to 20 lagoons of various sizes and depths, some up to 15 meters deep, and from 100 to 4,000 square meters of surface, and from 1.5 to 14 meters deep. The remaining sinkholes present temporary flooding.

They are nestled in a karstic landscape, formed by the erosion of gypsum, one of the few in Europe. For this reason, it is an area of ​​international scientific importance thanks to the peculiarities of the underground water circulation, its great biodiversity and the discovery of new species, as well as the uvulae and sinkholes. On the outskirts of Cuenca, on the N-420, take the road that joins the towns of Arcas del Villar and Villar de Olalla. At the height of the hamlet of Ballesteros there is a parking area. Free and open access.

The city of Arcas del Villar on its history:

The Castilla La Mancha tourist office on the Lagunar de Arcas or lagoons :

There you go folks, another dandy in lovely countryside of my beloved Spain, you need a car to see these beauties and well worth the time. Enjoy the post on the lagoons of Arcas del Villar as I.

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

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