VILLANUEVA DEL DUQUE
by Saskia Mier
Villanueva del Duque celebrates a series of unique festivals in the Ermita de la Virgen de Guía in honour of the Virgin. The town has about 1,500 inhabitants.
Villanueva del Duque was founded in the late Middle Ages, although the territory had significant importance during the Arab period, with the Berber clan of Kazna settling here, according to evidence of remains found in Castillo de la Morra. The town was created from an exodus of residents of the old town of El Allozo, feeling from the plague to the settlement that was then known as Retamal, during the last third of the thirteenth century.
Towards the beginning of the sixteenth century, the town took on the name of Villanueva del Marqués, maintaining it until the end of 1680, when it continued as "del Duque" in gratitude to the Duke of Béjar. In 1631, Felipe IV granted the town the title of Villa, and four thousand ducats were paid by the Count of Belalcázar and Duke of Béjar to become independent from the neighbouring Hinojosa.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de San Mateo
The Church, dedicted to the apostle San Mateo, was built at the end of the sixteenth century. Inside, there is an impressive altarpiece and baptismal font. Located in Plaza de la Iglesia.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Ermita de la Virgen de Guía
Construction details about the chapel are relatively unknown; however, it is believed to date to the twelfth and thirteenth century. Its style coul be framed in a period of transition from Romanesque to Gothic. The baroque paintings stand out, considered to be one of the most important pictorial collections in the area. They are presided over by a scene of the Virgin surrounded by Saints and in the vault representations of the four evangelists, all framed by geometric and floral motifs. Located north of the town, off Camino de la Fuente de la Estrella.
Ermita de San Gregorio
Again, construction details about the chapel are unknown but it is thought to be around the fifteenth century and dedicated to San Gregorio, a saint who demonstrated great devotion throughout the Valley de los Pedroches. He founded a Brotherhood in Villanueva de Córdoba with his name and supported the construction of the hermitage. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, the Brotherhood, already small in member numbers, disappeared. Authorities ordered the closure of the chapel, causing large protests among the town residents, who had already cleaned the building, used during the Civil War as a warehouse by the Republican Army. Located south of the town, on Carretera de Villanueva al Soldado.
Castillo del Cuzna
The Castle, also known as Morras del Cuzna, was built in the eighth century by the Berber clan Kazan or Kazna. One of its owners was Mondir Ibn Said al-Baullití, anImam of the Medina Azahara mosque during the reign of Alhakén II. The fort was conquered in 1237 by Fernando III El Santo, and donated, along with other Córdoba fortresses, to the Order of Calatrava, who maintained it until in 1245. It is currently a ruin. Located about seven kilometres south of the town.
Minas de El Soldado
At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Villanueva del Duque became one of the richest and most prosperous mining towns in Andalucía and Spain. The El Soldado lead mines ran continuously from 1906 to 1932, belonging to the Compagnie Française des Mines and Usines d'Escombreras Bleyberg. In 1912 they decided, in a desperate move after the bankruptcy of the Roux Bank, which had given it financial support, to merge with the successful Peñarroya Metallurgical Mining Society. Located three kilometres from Villanueva del Duque.
A must for hikers is the Ruta de las Viejas Minas, which takes you to the mining settlements of the past.
Villanueva del Duque provides multiple and varied options for nature lovers. Its extensive terrain gives rise to a great diversity of landscapes, flora and fauna.
To the north, there are large areas of trees and distant horizons, with a predominance of cereal crops; you will find birds such as the bustard and eaglet. Further south, the landscape is characterised by large extensions of holm oak, while areas such as Cerro Sordo, Sierra del Viñón, Cuartanero, Cerro del Gavilán, Romera, Manchego and Caleras stand out for their scenic beauty. It is possible to find Bonelli's eagles and griffon vultures that usually perch on rocky ledges.
Try some of the typical dishes from the town, such as, morcilla (black pudding), chorizo de patata (potato chorizo), cachorreñas (cod and pepper), sobrehúsa de bacalao (broad bean stew with cod), sopa de ajo (garlic and bread soup), lechón frito (fried pork) and relleno(eggs with jamón, saffron and offal). Sweet treats include hojuelas, perrunas (pastries) and borrachuelos (liqueur sponges).
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Celebrated on 2 February.
Celebrated on 3 February.
Celebrated in February.
Fiesta de las Mozas
Celebrated on Easter Monday.
Celebrated on 9 May.
Romería de San Isidro
Celebrated on 15 May.
Feria de Turismo Rural
Rural tourism fair celebrated the last few days of May.
Celebrated on 10 July.
Feria y Fiestas en honor a la Virgen de Guía y San Jacinto
Celebrated on14-18 August.
Día de la Cruz
Celebrated on 14 September.
Celebrated on 13 December.
Candelorio de los Quintos
Celebrated on 24 December.