Albacete Tourist Attractions
Cathedral of San Juan de AlbaceteAlbacete (from Arabic Al-Basita, the Plain), chief town of its province and the see of a bishop, lies in a fertile area in La Mancha. Now largely a modern town, it has an old- established reputation as a center of cutlery manufacture, and the knives (navajas) and daggers (puñales) made here are popular souvenirs.
Cathedral of San Juan
The most important building in the old upper town (el Alto de la Villa) is the cathedral of San Juan Bautista (16th century), a Gothic church originally designed by Diego de Siloé and continued in Renaissance style. It has a fine Churrigueresque high altar (1726). In the sacristy are five grisaille wall paintings of Biblical scenes (1550).
Features of interest in the lower town are Museo Arqueológico, La Sartén (the Pan), an 18th century banqueting hall, and the turn- of-the century shops in the glass- roofed Pasaje de Lodares.
In the newer lower part of the town, housed in the modern provincial government offices (Diputación Provincial) in the Parque de Abelardo Sánchez, is the Archeological Museum, which has been declared a national monument in virtue of the importance of its collections. It has two sections, a department of archeology and a department of modern art. Among the treasures of the department of archeology are objects from archeological sites in the province, including Iberian sculpture from Cerro de los Santos (75km/47mi southeast), Roman articulated dolls of ivory and amber from Ontur (80km/50mi southeast), Roman mosaics from Balazote and Gothic religious objects. The department of modern art has pictures by Benjamín Palencia and other local artists.
Address: Parque Abelardo Sánchez, Calle Arcángel San Gabriel, Spain
Alcala de Jucar
Chinchilla de Monte Aragon, Spain
13km/8mi southeast of Albacete, on a steep-sided crag, is the old Moorish stronghold of Chinchilla de Monte Aragón (alt. 896m/2940ft), which was chief town of the province until 1833. Over the town looms the Castillo, built by Don Juan de Villena in the 15th century, which was for a time the residence of Cesare Borgia. The narrow lanes running up from the Plaza Mayor towards the castle are lined by Gothic houses and palaces in Mudéjar style.
Santa María del Salvador
In the Plaza Mayor in Chinchilla de Monte Aragón is the important Gothic church of Santa María del Salvador (15th-16th century), which is notable particularly for its richly decorated Plateresque apse. The Capilla Mayor has a superb retablo. The Museo Parroquial displays a variety of sacred objects.
Opposite the apse of Santa Maria in Chinchilla de Monte Aragón is the Baroque Town Hall, which has a Renaissance facade with a bust of Charles II.
On the castle hill (200m/650ft) in Chinchilla de Monte Aragón is the 14th century monastery of Santo Domingo, with a beautiful cloister.
The castle hill is riddled with old cave dwellings, some of them now occupied by potters' workshops. The National Museum of Ceramics displays a wide range of Spanish ceramic products.
Cuevas de la Vieja
64km/40mi from Chinchilla on the road to Almansa (N 430) a side road goes off to Alpera, a few kilometers from which are the Cuevas de la Vieja, with Stone Age rock paintings of hunting and fighting scenes. To see them, apply to the mayor's office in Alpera.
Alcala de Jucar
Charmingly situated on a rocky hillside above the Río Jucar, to the north of Alpera, is the village of Alcalá de Jucar, dominated by its tower.
Prominently situated on a limestone crag above the town of Almansa (alt. 712m/2,336ft), 74km/46mi from Albacete, is a massive Moorish castle. In the level country round the castle was fought the last battle in the War of the Spanish Succession (April 25, 1707), between Philip V's troops under the command of the Duke of Berwick and the army of Archduke Charles of Austria.
The 15th century church of the Asunción below the castle has a fine doorway and contains pictures by the Colombian painter Carlos Sosa and chapels with stellar vaulting.
The palace of the Conde de Cirat in Almansa, known as the Casa Grande, dates from the 15th century. Notable features are the Baroque doorway and the patio, with a double gallery.
The Convento de las Agustinas (1564) in Almansa has a Baroque/Renaissance facade.
The little town of Hellín (alt. 566m/1,857ft), 61km/38mi from Albacete on N 301, has many typical old houses with Baroque façades. The magnificent camarín in the church of the Conventos Franciscanos also dates from the Baroque period.
In the surrounding area are sulfur mines which were already being worked in Roman times.
Cuevas de Minateda
8km/5mi east of Hellín are the Cuevas de Minateda, with Stone Age representations of men and animals.
An annual drum festival is held in Hellín.
The N 322 runs from Balazote through lonely country to Alcaraz (alt. 798m/2,618ft), 79km/49mi from Albacete. Over this picturesque little medieval town, on a nearby hill, stands a Moorish castle. Alcaraz was the birthplace in 1509 of the 16th century architect Andrés de Vandelvira.
The beautiful Plaza Mayor, surrounded by arcades, has been declared a national monument. Around it are the principal buildings of the town. The square is entered from the Calle Mayor through the Puerta de la Aduana.
The town's finest church is La Trinidad (1486), with a fine tower, a beautiful doorway and wood statues by Salzillo and Roque López. It contains a museum of sacred art.
Lonja del Corregidor
Adjoining La Trinidad is the Lonja del Corregidor, the old market hall and commercial exchange. Built in 1518 and renovated in 1718, it has a large tower, the Torre de Tardón (1568).
The Neo-Classical façade of the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), opposite La Trinidad, dates from 1588.
Source of the Río Mundo
From Alcaraz a road runs south by way of Fábricas de Riopar to Siles in the Sierra de Alcaraz, near which is the Cueva de Chorro. An impressive sight here is the source of the Río Mundo emerging from a cave.
From Albacete N 322 runs southwest to Balazote, where the Iberian sculpture known as the Bicha de Balazote (Hind of Balazote), dating from the fifth century B.C., was found in 1898.
La Roda, Spain
From Albacete N 301 runs northwest, crosses the Canal de María Cristina and continues via La Gineta to La Roda (alt. 716m/2,349ft), 36km/22mi from Albacete, a little market town in a fertile agricultural area.
The church of El Salvador (16th C.), with a dome of dark-blue azulejos, has a fine Churrigueresque retablo of 1721.
Museo de Antonio Martínez
The Museo de Antonio Martínez has a collection of material on the history of the town.
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