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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