Next to the palace there is a little church of the XVth century, built in gothic style. The most surprising thing about this church is a huge dissected alligator inside called "El lagarto del Viso" (Viso's lizard). There are two stories that talk about this strange guest, you can choose the story that you prefer:
1-the alligator was brought by Alvaro de Bazan from one of his exotic trips to Egypt
2-one day a big alligator appeared in the village. The major offered a reward for it. Many knights and noblemen tried to kill it using sophisticated weapons without success. At the end a poor villager asked for a big Jabugo ham and put it on the main square. When the alligator saw the big Jabugo ham rushed to eat it and in this way the villager could kill it and take the reward. As you can see Don Quijote was not the only one with too much imagination in La Mancha :-) :-) :-)
I lost my pictures also here :-(
This is one beautiful excursion to do at just half an hour by car from Valdepeñas.
This palace built for the Marqués de Santa Cruz hosts today the Spanish Army archives. Santa Cruz family rents the palace to them for one old peseta per year. But why the Army archives are here, so far from the sea?? Because of the nobleman, sailor and knight of the Orden de Santiago Alvaro de Bazan, first Marqués de Santa Cruz, "Señor" de la Villa de Valdepeñas and former owner of this palace. Very close to king Felipe II, he was one of the greatest sailors of the Spanish Army. He had an important role in Lepanto Battle and during his life never lost a battle. He died in Lisbon when he was preparing the Armada Invencible to fight against the English Army. What would have happened if he did not die before the battle?!
Alvaro de Bazan’s palace was built following the style of the Italian palaces during the Renaissance. Double galleries around a patio, Ligurian “ardesia” (he was a close friend of Andrea Doria) for the staircases, vaults decorated with gorgeous Italian Manierist paintings . . . this palace in the middle of nowhere is a wonder! And the paintings program (8000m2) is a lesson of history about the naval battles of the Spanish XVI century and a stroll along Alvaro Bazan’s biography: his relatives, trips around the world, conquests . . .
El fiero turco en Lepanto,
en la Tercera el francés,
y en todo mar el inglés,
tuvieron de verme espanto.
Rey servido y patria honrada
dirán mejor quién he sido
por la cruz de mi apellido
y con la cruz de mi espada.
Lope de Vega, 1588
Unfortunately I have lost almost all my pictures about this palace (!XX%•ZW!!). I only have few pictures of the paintings inside and some pictures taken by my friends with my little camera :-(