Valdepeñas Spain Church of Assumption
|Autonomous community||Castile-La Mancha|
|• Mayor||Jesús Martín Rodríguez (2007) (PSOE)|
|• Total||487.65 km2 (188.28 sq mi)|
|Elevation||705 m (2,313 ft)|
|• Density||64/km2 (170/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Valdepeñas is a municipality in the province of Ciudad Real, in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, Spain. It is also the seat of the judicial district that covers the localities of Moral de Calatrava, Santa Cruz de Mudela, Viso del Marqués, Torrenueva, Castellar de Santiago and Almuradiel.
Its name means "Valley of Rocks", because it is located in a wide area meander of hill the Jabalón River surrounded, just bordering on the plain south of La Mancha and the subsoil is rich in limestone rock.
The hamlet (pedanía) of Consolación depends from Valdepeñas and is located at the intersection between Autovía A-4 (Autovia del Sur) and road CR-5214. It was built by the Instituto Nacional de Colonización in 1949.
The municipal area houses numerous prehistoric remains, platforms and watchtowers located in the hills, compatible with settlers of the Bronze age called Culture of the Motillas, dated between the 10th and 13th centuries BC. Vasco Merlo in their History of Valdepeñas  described these structures erroneously as Celtiberian settlements, despite them being much older than that and possibly belonging to the Culture of Argar.
Eight kilometres to the south of the city, we find The Iberian city of “Cerro de las Cabezas” (Hill of the Heads), a great oppidum or town fortified with a true castle in the summit of the hill that it occupies, inhabited between the 7th and 2nd centuries BC. It is an important archaeological deposit of the Oretana Culture and shows signs of the first vestige of the grapevine in this region.
In the 16th century and later artefacts such as graves, coins and other ancient Roman items, from a Roman villa of the 1st century BC, that still existed in the Visigothic period.
During this period the area was part of the Moorish taifa of Toledo. The Arab inscriptions and a sun dial on the walls of the Church of the Assumption date from this period. According to oral tradition, the Caliphate gave permission to the inhabitants to cultivate vineyards and make wine. This is prohibited by the Quran. The Moors were expelled from Valdepenas at the end of the 15th century.
By order of Queen Berenguela of Castile and after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, settlers of several villages (Aberturas, Corral Rubio de Jabalón, Santa María de las Flores and Castilnuevo) moved to the area around the present Church of the Assumption, which had been an old castle.
From that moment Valdepeñas belonged to the military Order of Calatrava and the first text it is mentioned in is the record of The Order of Calatrava in 1243. The new settlers coming from the Kingdoms of Castile, León (Galicia mainly) and Aragón. The Order demanded conditions of establishment and right of citizenship, the continued care of the grapevine.
In medieval times the Jewish community became important and this is reflected in the existence at least two synagogues, one of which was eventually converted into the hermitage of Veracruz and the old building where the Parish of The Christ was located, behind its present location.
Early Modern History
The Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella of Castille, lodged in Valdepeñas on 18 February 1488 at the mother of Alfonso de Merlo's house, and left to the care of the widow the infants during part of the conquest of Granada. The same Alfonso de Merlo was named Captain and went with more than two hundred men to the Conquest of Granada, funding the campaign with their own money. The Catholic Monarchs recognized and granted him the title of Knight. Some of their descendants moved to the New World, took important positions in Peru and Chile.
Currently diverse religious and civil buildings from the 16th century such as the Trinitarians Covent can be found in the town.
King Ferdinand the Catholic wanted to control the power of Military Orders and Pope Adrian VI granted orders to the Kingdom of Castile, passing to Royal Jurisdiction an important patrimony: two cities, two hundred villas (Valdepeñas among them) and a hundred of villages, distributed in an ample territory.
Señorío of Valdepeñas
King Philip II sold the villa on 22 April 1575 to D. Alvaro de Bazán first Marquess of Santa Cruz, who became Lord of Valdepeñas. Valdepeñas would happen to be a “Señorío”, secreting itself of the Order of Calatrava.
The successive marquesses promoted the wines of Valdepeñas in the Spanish Court of the Austrian and its fame consequently extended all over the country. Valdepeñas' “clarete” became known as “aloque” at this time.
Nothing remarkable happened until 6 June 1808, when Napoleon's occupation of Spain became an issue after the events of 2 May in Madrid of that year.
Napoleon's troops went to Andalusia as reinforcements and attempted to cross the villa; the entire population (men, women and also some of the neighbouring villas) took up arms to prevent the passage of the troops. The result was a high number of lives lost and a major fire. Highlighted in the fight was a woman, Juana Galán "La Galana". The outcome was that the troops had to retreat from the province of La Mancha, a delay which led, at least in part, to the Spanish victory at the Battle of Bailen. King Fernando VII would give the villa the Title of "Very Heroic". After these events some inhabitants from Valdepeñas took part of the guerrilla fighting against the Napoleonic troops in the “Guerra de la Independencia”, Francisco Abad, “Chaleco”, became a famous guerrillero.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the appearance of Phylloxera led to the introduction of the resistant American vine but did not change the economy much. The Spanish Civil War broke this development, and the city's population decreased. From the 1940s to the 1970s the only economical activities were agriculture and the traditional family industry of wine, a common phenomenon of central Spain in these times. In the 1980s, Valdepeñas saw a modernization of the wine sector, including new kinds of grapes, and the introduction of techniques in wine production.
Valdepeñas has several museums of history, art and wine. There are two Fairs, in August "the summer fair" at the first week and in September known as "Fiesta de la Vendimia" (Grape Harvest Fair).
- Bernardo de Balbuena, appointed Bishop of Puerto Rico in 1620, who wrote Baroque poetry extolling the beauties of Mexico.
- Luis Merlo de la Fuente Ruiz de Beteta, colonial official who briefly served as the Royal Governor of Chile, in 1610-11.
- Gregorio Prieto, painter, poet and illustrator well know for his portraits, kitch collages and also rural landscapes of England, Greece and La Mancha. Worked for BCC in London while in exhile after the war of Spain. A foundation named after him exhibits most of his work in Valdepeñas.
The town is home contains large distilleries, tanneries, flour mills, cooperages, and other factories, but its chief trade is in red wines. The city is famous for its wines and is the centre of a grape-growing district. Valdepeñas wines are among the most popular in Spain and recently in EU countries. There are hot mineral springs near the city. Recently, in addition to the food and wine industry, there’re setting up small and medium industries located in several industrial parks.
- Plant of production and investigation of Systems in High Electronic Technology.
- The logistic center of Heavy Transport, for heavy trucks
- D. Quixote Route and the through train of wine with point of departure from Madrid.
- Cognac, France
- Fernando Vasco Merlo, Historia de Valdepeñas.
- Fernando Vasco Merlo, Historia de Valdepeñas, and also in "El Memorial de Don Alonso Merlo de la Fuente" (Noviembre, 1650). Work of Arturo Giráldez (print in “e Humanista Volume 07, 2006”). University of the Pacific. About manuscript held in the British Library.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Valdepeñas.|
- Ayuntamiento de Valdepeñas Website of Municipal government (Spanish), (English) and (French) in virtual guided tour.
- Dovaldepenas.es (Spanish)
- "Valdepeñas". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.