Uclés is a town in the province of Cuenca that has an impressive historical heritage. Linked to the Order of Santiago, this town is a great option to visit and enjoy the rich cultural heritage of Castilla-La Mancha. Are you coming to walk through it?
A little history
The first human settlements in Uclés date back to Prehistory. However, it gains importance as a result of its Muslim occupation. The battle of Uclés or of the Seven Counts took place there and shortly after, in the 12th century, it is ceded by King Alfonso VIII to the Order of Santiagoto which we owe the splendor of Uclés.
This military order had the protection of different kings, but after the seizure of the Kingdom of Granada would lose its military function and would be relegated by the religious. It is then when the town begins to reduce its strategic importance to enhance its religiosity.
Francisco de Quevedo was imprisoned in Uclés for political reasons. Later, the town became one of the main stages of the War of Independence against the Napoleonic troops. Today it is one of the most touristic towns in Cuenca and its historic quarter has been the setting for films such as Alatriste.
The heritage of Uclés
The town of Uclés is full of monuments in an environment of incredible beauty. Among them you can find a castle, remains of a wall, one of the most important monasteries in the area and countless other elements that demonstrate the importance of this town.
1. The Arab castle
It is a fortress built at the end of the 9th century by al-Fath ben Musa ben Zennun. It is an immense mass that occupies the highest promontory in the town and that was changing hands for centuries until it finally passed into the hands of the Order of Santiago.
Few remains remain from the Muslim period, but what we can find gives us an idea of the importance that this fortress had. Among them, you can see the Pontido tower, the Albarrana tower and the Palomar tower, as well as several sections of the wall.
Upon the arrival of the Order, the fortress would begin a slow process of modification that would be more profound after the Catholic Monarchs and Carlos V. Thus, in the first third of the 16th century many of its structures were destroyed to house the monastery inside.
2. The monastery of Uclés
After the campaign of the Catholic Monarchs that unified the entire Peninsula, the castle began to be remodeled to become the headquarters of the mother house of the Order of Santiago. This reform would be carried out over more than two centuries, so we can see an extraordinary mixture of architectural styles that have given it the nickname of the ‘Escorial from La Mancha’.
Its 17th century cloister stands out with its central curb and the beautiful Plateresque-style sacristy attributed to Andrés de Vandelvira. The temple is the work of Francisco de Mora and has three Herrerian-style towers, in addition to several facades, among which the main Churrigueresque-style facade stands out.
3. The Plaza Mayor and the noble houses
In the center of the population is the Plaza Mayor, the place where the life of this town of Cuenca takes place. There is the City Hall buildingbuilt in the 17th century and whose façade is developed by means of a beautiful porch and arches.
The main streets start from it, in which you can see some of the noble houses that Uclés has. The Torres family, the Pareja y Cedillo family and the Fernández y Contreras family stand out. In addition, walking through its streets you will find several of the gates of the wall that surrounded the town. The building of the old pósito of the XVI century and the source of the Five Caños.
In Uclés there are more corners that are worth knowing, because It is a place to walk calmly and enjoy culture and art and the taste of yesteryear. It is a space full of history that has one of the best tourist offers in the province of Cuenca. Are you going to miss it?