LAS TRES VILLAS
by Saskia Mier
Villas Las Tres is the name of the present day municipality that unites three small villages; Doña María, Ocaña and Escúllar. It is an ideal destination for lovers of rural Andalucia and nature, and visitors should look out for the distinct stone houses with slate roofs. It has about 560 inhabitants.
When the Council of Ministers in Madrid approved the merging of the towns in 1976, as requested by Escúllar and Doña María-Ocaña, it ended the century and a half-long separation of the three towns caused by the War of Independence
Doña María and Ocaña are located in the valley on the banks of the Nacimiento River, whilst Escúllar is located to the north. Access is via the AL-5405 past Abla, between Sierra de Baza and Sierra de los Filabres. The economic boom in the years after the War of Independence encouraged these three towns, that until 1740 had belonged to Abla, to remain independent. In 1920, Doña María and Ocaña merged to take advantage of their proximity. Escúllar was joined to them five decades later,
These three towns, which share a railway station, have very different origins. Doña María dates back to Roman times, although in the eighteenth century, it was nothing more than a single farmhouse. Ocaña was home to Don Gonzalo Chacón, Senior Accountant of Castile and one of the closest relations of Constable Don Alvaro de Luna, servant of the Constable whom the Catholic Monarchs empowered to train a Mayorazgo that reunited its manors. Escúllar, on the hillside to the north, had previously been a municipal district of Abla,
THINGS TO SEE IN DOÑA MARIA
Iglesia Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de la Anunciación
Construction of the church began at the end of the eighteenth century, according to the plan drawn up by the architect Santiago Ferro, although only the main chapel and the transept were built from it, as the nave was never built. The façade culminates with a cornice, on which rises a pediment with a roughly triangular shape, having a hollow vain lintel, and which is capped by an iron cross. The Patroness is Santa Teresa. Located on Calle Iglesia.
THINGS TO SEE IN OCAÑA
Iglesia de la Virgin de la Salud
In the centre of the village is the parish church. It was built in the eighteenth century, in the Neoclassical style, and features a barrel vault and high bell tower. Located on Calle Porche in Plaza de la Juventud.
Ermita de Las Animas
Ermita de Las Animas is a tiny chapel located on the Calle Alta to the west of Ocaña.
THINGS TO SEE IN ESCÜLLAR
Iglesia de la Inmaculada
Eighteenth-century parish church in the Neoclassical style. It is unusual in that the roof is covered with thin slate rather than terracotta roof tiles. Its interior is very sober and the arches that support the vault stand out.
Fuente de Zamora
The spring is located outside the village in an area known as Piedras Blancas, in the same location that a Paleolithic horse engraving was discovered.
Poquito a poco.
Tapas Bar, worth a visit.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGES
Grabados Rupestres de Piedras Blancas
Rock engraving on the southern slope of the Sierra de los Filabres, at an altitude of 1,400m. It is the representation of a complete figure of a horse, in absolute profile and with a slightly ascending position, from back to front. Its conventions place us in the middle of the Upper Paleolithic era, corresponding to the Solutrean stage. It is one of the few manifestations of Paleolithic rock art in the open air in the south of the peninsula. Declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 1985. Located in Escúllar.
Sierra Nevada National Park
The Sierra Nevada National Park is a dramatic, rugged and extensive mountain range, the highest in Europe after the Alps and the most significant section of the Cordillera Penibética. The protected central area of National Park encompasses 85,883 hectares of snowy summits, torrential rivers, sheer-sided gorges, stony scree slopes and glacial lakes. Popular activities in the park include skiing, hiking, mountain biking and summer camps.
Cerro Negro is one of the highest peaks in the municipality of Las Tres Villas. Located in the Sierra Nevada Natural Park.
Peñón de la Encantá
The Peñón de la Encantá is located in the Sierra Nevada National Park within the Santillana Area and is a natural monument. Its privileged situation makes it possible to contemplate incredible views of the Santillana ravine. Its broken morphology allows visitors to enter its interior through one of its cracks. This rock is legendary to locals; it is said that it was inhabited by an enchanted woman with long golden hair and white skin who, on nights with a clear moon, would go out to meet walkers or shepherds, singing beautiful songs.
When visiting Las Tres Villas, try their local dishes such as ajo colorao (soup made with potato and red pepper), olla de trigo (wheat stew), migas (fried breadcrumbs served with pork), gurullos con conejo (pasta with rabbit), torticas de avio (open pie filled with vegetables and fresh anchovy), fritada de emperador (swordfish), tortas de panizo (dumplings) and pavo relleno (stuffed turkey). Sweet treats include roscos de sartén (doughnuts), leche frita (fried custard), bizcocho de dátiles (date cake), roscos de vino (aniseed biscuits) and deditos de Jesús (Jesus fingers of almond pastry).
Popular festivals in Las Tres Villas are Fiestas de San Bernardo, Fiestas de la Virgen de la Salud, Fiesta de Santa Teresa and Fiesta de la Virgen de la Cabeza. More>
The tourist office of Las Tres Villas is located in the town hall. More>