- Mar 8, 2018
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La Alcarria (Spain), the region of honey, has an important monumental, natural and historical heritage that should be explored in a quiet way. And the heart of this Alcarria is Brihuega (Guadalajara - Spain), also known as 'Jardín de la Alcarria', a historic and monumental town situated on a high plateau overlooking the beautiful landscapes of the Tajuña valley. Brihuega is one of those non-tourist places in Castilla La Mancha, which do not usually appear in conventional guides, but which lovers of the past and history should mark in red in their travel diary.
Its origins date back to the Celtiberian period, as shown by the remains found in the fertile plain of Tajuña. Later, Brihuega passed into the hands of the Romans (2nd century BC) and was given the name Castrum Brioga. In the Middle Ages it was known as Brioga. Conquered from the Arabs by Alfonso VI, it received its privileges at the beginning of the 13th century. Most of its main monuments date from that century. In the sixteenth century came into power of the crown after belonging to the archbishops of Toledo.
It has been the scene of different war events of significant importance. In 1455, it suffered a siege during the nine days preceding the festivity of Pentecost, when John II reigned in Castile and in Navarre, also known as John II, who sought to usurp the Castilian throne. But the assault did not take place.
At the end of 1710 it was assaulted by the troops of Bourbon Felipe V in one of the most important episodes of the War of Succession. The British troops of General James Stanhope were forced to capitulate. The British, who supported the house of the Austrias, were attacked and defeated by the Franco-Spanish army under the command of Luis José de Borbón, Duke of Vendôme.
The next day the battle of Villaviciosa took place. The head of the Austrian troops, Guido von Starhemberg, who had received too late news of the danger in which the British group found itself, immediately retreated and confronted the Franco-Spanish army in a bloody battle around the neighbouring town of Villaviciosa de Tajuña. Both sides considered it a victory and lost some 3,000 troops on the battlefield.
It was not the only battle in which the locality of Alcarreña was the protagonist. In 1937, a large part of the Battle of Guadalajara, which belonged to the Spanish Civil War, took place along its streets, in which the Republican side won against the rebellious troops, most of them made up of troops of Italian origin. It was the first victory of the army that represented the legitimate government. Today, a tree in the leafy garden that surrounded the palace of Ibarra (in ruins), remembers that in this place there was a conflict that was decisive.
His impotence was such that the writer Ernst Hemingway, then a war correspondent in Spain, wrote: "This correspondent who has been studying the battle for four days, reviewing the positions on the ground, with the commanders who led it and the officers who fought in it, and following in the footsteps of the tanks, declares emphatically that Brihuega will have a place in military history along with other decisive battles in the world.
At the entrance to the old town, declared a Historic-Artistic Site, the traveller finds the scroll or pillory, the jurisdictional symbol and place of executions, and the canvases of the wall between the Chain Gate and the Arch of the Heart. A stroll through streets that alternate popular architecture with noble mansions of more shaft leads us to the porticoed square of the Coso, where the prison of times of Carlos III is conserved. Above, the castle of Peña Bermeja, with its spacious parade ground and its Gothic-Mudejar chapel (13th century).
The traveller continues through the Gothic church of Santa María de la Peña (13th century), whose façade is Romanesque. The church of San Miguel, from the 13th century and with notable Baroque reforms, has a Cistercian-style Romanesque façade with archivolts. Meanwhile, the church of San Felipe, which is one of the best in the town, has a portal with pointed arches, capitals, rose window and eaves supported by zoomorphic corbels. It remains to be seen the Real Fábrica de Paños (18th century), circular, baroque façade, which conserves some romantic gardens.