Museo Gregorio Prieto
I was taken to this museum to see a typical house from La Mancha during the XVI and XVII centuries, with its central patio, wooden structure, etc (picture 2) but the work of this painter is as interesting as the architecture. It’s a pity that we did not have a lot of time to visit it well because it was too late.
Gregorio Prieto was a Spanish painter born in Valdepeñas who belonged to the “Generación del 27”. His contacts with the European avant-gardes and the friendship with the writers of the Generación del 27 will mark his artistic career. He studied in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and Rome and did several cultural trips in Italy, Egypt and Greece.
This museum show us his work. He did lots of portraits of known people and friends. He was Garcia Lorca’s lover so you will see lots of portraits of him (picture 3). He was also very interested in the windmills and draw lots of designs about them: the manchego windmills but also the windmills that found during his trips.
I don’t know why but he developed a special interest for Saint Michael and during his life he collected lots of sculptures about him, sculptures that nowadays we can see gathered together in the freakiest room of the museum (pictures 4-5). I would not like to be shut up in this room with all these statues at night!!
Entrance is free
Museo del Vino de Valdepeñas
You can find this interesting museum in the former winery of Leocadio Morales. It was one of those wineries that lived the Valdepeñas Wine’s peak at the beginning of the last century. This museum shows all the history, tradition and marketing (picture 3) of the DO Valdepeñas through information panels, designs or pictures. It is very well done and the “container” itself (the winery) is very beautiful. We can see the patio with the typical “manchego well” made from an only stone, the original press, the wine cellar with the nostalgic "tinajas" (picture 1), some machines and the cave where you still can see the “tinajilla del bodeguero” (wine producer). He could do with it whatever he wanted (some experiments, invite his friends . . .) without asking the owner’s permission (picture 2). At the end of the tour there is a nice exhibition with some pictures taken by Harry Gordon during the wine harvest in 1959. Well done!
The entrance costs 3,5 euros (2009); explanations are only in Spanish.
Winter from 10,00 to 14,00 and 17,00 to 19,00
Summer from 10,30 to 14,00 and 18,00 to 20,30
The church built by the Orden de Calatrava has an only nave. Inside was started in Gothic style (XIIIth century) and finished in Renaissance style. Inside the proportions are strange because this structure was at the beginning a kind of fortress. Vaults are simple but beautiful (picture 2). In one of the chapels, built during the Baroque period, the writer Francisco de Quevedo was buried.
About this church there is a legend and a story to tell:
*Legend says that Isabel la Católica during one of her trips gave birth to a child in Valdepeñas that was born dead. He was buried in this church and nowadays we still can see a small tomb on the main façade but no bones were found there.
**The other story talks about the Virgin (picture 3). The church had the statue of the Virgin of Consolación on the main altar. During the Civil War citizens decided to hide it to protect it from an eventual expolio. But sometimes when we hide a thing so well, so well later we can’t find it . . . and that’s what happened with this statue at the end of the War :-) So what to do? After searching here and there they decided to steal their neighbours’ (Moral de Calatrava) Virgin which was also a nice statue. Years later the original Virgin of Valdepeñas appeared and instead of replacing it and give back the stolen Virgin they decided to keep the current one and sell the original Virgin to an antique dealer in Seville :-)))
Plaza de España
This smiling square is the center of life in Valdepeñas. Here you can find the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (XIII century), the town hall etc. It has a nice architecture with its typical white and blue houses with arcades (pitures 2-3). In the past this square was also used as “separation line” (the line corresponds to the current Virgen Street) between two military orders: Orden de Calatrava and Orden de Santiago which, by the way, were not good friends. An anecdote to tell here talks about the construction of the church on Calatrava’s lands. Legend says that this Order asked to Santiago Order for some money to build the church. Of course once finished it would be Calatrava’s church but Santiago Order could use it too. Santiago Order did not want to pay and Calatrava Order had to construct the church without their help. And they took revenge on them! There is a little angel sculpted on the side façade: with his pants down he faces his bottom mockingly to Santiago’s side and laughs!! (picture 4)
Plaza de España is also the best place to taste wine and eat tapas in good company :-)
It’s impossible to talk about Valdepeñas without talking about its wine!
We already find vestiges of the grapevine in this region in the Iberian city of Cerro de las Cabezas, inhabited between the 7th and 2nd centuries BC.
During Middle Ages the area was part of the Moorish Kingdom of Toledo and according to tradition the Caliphate gave permission to the inhabitants to cultivate vineyards and make wine which is prohibited by The Koran.
During XVI Valdepeñas Wine was the most appreciated wine in the Spanish Court of the Austrian in Madrid. In 1861 the recently inaugurated train brought daily more than 20 wagons to Madrid loaded with wine.
The best period for Valdepeñas Wine was by the end of XIXth century when Phylloxera appeared in France. They could take the French market too and enlarge the production. From this period we can find in the city lots of rich houses and small palaces built by the wine-producer bourgeoisie. Nobody thought that Phylloxera could cross the border but it attacked Valdepeñas vineyards only few years later, in 1911. Problem was solved with the introduction of the resistant American vineyard (only for “the feet”, the grape varieties were always the same).
Nowadays Valdepeñas Wine has its own Denominación de Origen (DO) and produces more than 50 millions of liters of wine per year, exporting the 20% of the production especially to Germany, the Western countries, USA and Russia (rising for Russians the wine graduation). The grape varieties allowed for this DO are Cencibel, Garnacha and Cavernet Sauvignon for tintos (red wines) and Airén, Macabeo, Chardonnay and Verdejo for blancos (white wines).
Wines can be “Gran Reserva” that means 24 months in the barrel and 36 months in the bottle; “Reserva” 12 months in the barrel and 24 months in the bottle; “Crianza” 24 months in the wine cellar from which 6 months minimum in the barrel. These are minimum times, it happened to me to find (and drink, eheh) a bottle of wine that had at least 50 years!!! The best harvest for Valdepeñas Wines are 1989, 1993 (the best), 1995 and 1998 even if I am still searching for more 50 years old bottles of wine . . . hip!
Avenida de las Tinajas
If Egypt has Sphinx Avenues, Valdepeñas has the Tinajas (earthenware jars) Avenue! This avenue is one of the entrances/exits to the city and is full of jars. The "tinajas" were the recipients used to ware and transport the wine. In fact nowadays the tinajas are like a romantic metaphor of wine and you will find them everywhere in Valdepeñas, especially at the entrance of the bodegas (wineries), restaurants, love clubs or some traditional shops.
Tip 0: Coat of Arms
Not the nicest picture but I think that it is the best one to start. On the Valdepeñas coat of arms you can see different things:
*A wine barrel as Valdepeñas is especially known for its wine production. We already find vestiges of the grapevine in this region in the Iberian city of *Cerro de las Cabezas (8km from the current city), a great oppidum (or fortified city) inhabited between the 7th and 2nd centuries BC. If you take a look at the remains maybe you can see that it has the shape of a bottle of wine?! (picture 2) :-)))))
**The Calatrava Cross (picture 3) because the city belonged to the Military Order of Calatrava from the XIIIth century until 1575 when king Felipe II, who needed money, sold it to Don Alvaro de Bazan, first Marqués de Santa Cruz. He became Lord of Valdepeñas and Valdepeñas became a Señorío independent of the Military Order.
***The sentence “Muy Heroica Ciudad Valdepeñas”. This title (Very Heroic) was given by king Fernando VII because Valdepeñas’ role during the Independence War (1808) against Napoleonic troops was very important. The entire population took up arms to prevent the passage of Napoleon's reinforcement troops through the villa. This constraint made easier the victory in the Bailen Battle.
Villanueva de los Infantes
Villanueva de los Infantes is a municipality not far from Valdepeñas, in the region called Campo de Montiel. As it is not in the list VT places, I have to write a tip instead a page.
It has been signed by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid as "El Lugar de La Mancha" (The Place in La Mancha) called at start of Don Quijote (Miguel de Cervantes).
Villanueva de los Infantes is the place where the poet Francisco de Quevedo died. His rest were found in 2007 in San Andrés Apóstol church.
UNESCO gave to this city the title of Historic-Artistic Ensemble because of its beautiful old places. Tourism is one of pillars of this economy, being the others the vineyard and the olive.
Museo del Vino
An old cave houses this museum. The cave was built in 1901 and it worked for over 70 years. The different parts of the cave can be visited and there are exhibitions of tillage tools and machinery for viticulture.
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