Campo de Criptana in Castilla–La Mancha

Monday, 28 February 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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© Lourdes Cardenal/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Lourdes Cardenal/cc-by-sa-3.0

Campo de Criptana is a municipality and town in the province of Ciudad Real in the autonomous community of Castilla–La Mancha (Spain). It is found in the region known as La Mancha. Until 1999 the municipal area also included Arenales de San Gregorio, which was situated 13 kilometers southeast of the main core, and had 700 inhabitants. After that date San Gregorio constituted an independent municipality. The area surrounding Campo de Criptana has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Prehistoric implements of hunting, gathering, and agriculture have been found in various locations, as have ceramics, particularly from the Bronze Age. From historic times, the most plentiful remnants have been IberoRoman.

The 13th century beginnings of the urban center were situated around a fortified position in the Cerro de La Paz, which served as a defensive outpost of the Castillo de Criptana. The topographical features of the area determined the formation of the city and its subsequent expansion into the plain to the south. In the 16th century the city experienced a period of prosperity that manifested itself in numerous construction projects, both civil (the Granary, Casa de la Tercia) and religious (Hermitages of the Virgen de la Paz, Veracruz, Santa Ana, and Nuestra Señora de la Concepción; Convento de las Carmelitas). However, the national crisis of the 17th century affected the city, which, once having reached the plain, halted its expansion. In the initial third of the 19th century, having recovered from the effects of the Peninsular War (also known as the War of Spanish Independence), the municipality became an important agricultural center with a gradually rising population. This gave rise to a local bourgeoisie, which, benefitting from the confiscation of church property, strengthened its economic power in the second half of the 19th century and made possible the emergence of a historic, regionalist, and modern architecture which characterizes this period of city-building. These well-off families built their residences in the center of the city, leading to an urban renewal that manifested itself in particular in the change from the agrarian pattern in which large open fields predominated, to one in which the dominant areas were those that accommodated residential uses and the land was related to residential activity rather than agriculture. The arrival of the railway in the second half of the 19th century led to the placement of the new industrial facilities in the southeast part of the core, near the train station. During the first third of the 20th century the growth of the city continued inhabitation of the flatter areas and movement toward the south. The municipal population reached its high point in the middle of the 20th century (15,659 inhabitants in 1950), with economic growth then coming to a halt as a consequence of emigration to the large cities (the municipality lost 2,369 inhabitants between 1950 and 1980). Expansion of the city ended; growth was limited to small developments along the southern border. The last quarter of the 20th century saw a renewed, major expansion of the city, which in just over 20 years almost doubled the area that was occupied in the 1970s. The resulting growth of residences (almost all single-family homes), industrial installations (in the extreme southeast area and in isolated pockets), and office buildings produced a mostly unplanned urban area with overall deficiencies in infrastructure. Since the approval of the first municipal planning regulations in 1981 (which involved the formal adoption of the decision to manage the city’s development at the municipal level) the situation has been gradually improved.

© flickr.com - M.Peinado/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - M.Peinado/cc-by-2.0 © flickr.com - M.Peinado/cc-by-2.0 © Zarateman © Zarateman © Zarateman © Lourdes Cardenal/cc-by-sa-3.0
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© flickr.com - M.Peinado/cc-by-2.0
“At this point they caught sight of thirty or forty windmills which were standing on the plain…” Thus begins chapter VIII of Don Quixote. In Cervantes‘s time windmills were quite common. This view is undoubtedly the characteristic landscape of Campo de Criptana, presenting its silhouette from the Sierra de los Molinos and the Cerro de la Paz. A 19th century land registry drawn up at the behest of the Marqués de la Ensenada shows 34 windmills in existence at that time, each clearly marked with the name of the mill and that of its owner. Through archaeological remnants, we know that they had once been far more numerous. Today, ten windmills can be seen from afar, with their original structure and machinery preserved. Visitors can tour the inside of the mills and listen to a presentation about their function. Other mills have been converted into museums: the Inca Garcilaso is a museum celebrating the working of the land, the Pilón is a museum of wine, the Quimera is dedicated to Vicente Huidobro, the Culebro to the actress Sara Montiel, and the Lagarto to poetry. The Poyatos windmill houses the Office of Tourism. Every Saturday one of the restored mills is put into operation. In 1978, the entire group of windmills was declared a Monument of Historical-Artistic Interest, which today is referred to as a Cultural Heritage Site.

A pósito is a building for storing grain (especially wheat), that is, a granary. The granary as an institution is quite old, and was run by the local government. Its purpose was to provide grain to farm workers in difficult times, on terms favourable to the recipients, and furthermore to regulate the market for wheat whenever its price (and therefore that of bread) was increasing at an alarming rate. The granary of Campo de Criptana is from the 16th century, and was renovated and enlarged by Charles III. The access door is on the main facade, which looks out over the plaza that carries the name of the building, Plaza del Pósito. At the midpoint it has an arch, decorated with a three-sided frame known as an alfiz, and above that three coats of arms, two of them of the Order of Santiago. The granary was in use up to the Peninsular War (1808–1814), at which point it began to fall into disuse. The granary was auctioned off in 1914 and passed into private hands. In 1991 the local government re-acquired it and had it restored for use as a town museum, where expositions and cultural activities could take place. The restoration was carried out by a teaching workshop, which for its fine work received a diploma awarded by Europa Nostra in 1997.

All of the streets that encircle Cerro de la Paz follow the shape of the old town and are on a hillside, which makes Criptana different from other towns of La Mancha, all of which are on the plain. At the end of the 16th century many Moorish families from Granada took refuge in the eastern part of the town and from that time the new neighbourhood has been known as the Albaicín, referring to the ancient neighbourhood of the same name in Granada. The houses still have their Arabic tiles, painted in white and indigo, and wrought iron grilles in the windows.

Read more on Campo de Criptana, spain.info – Campo de Criptana and Wikipedia Campo de Criptana (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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