Candeleda, the most cherished village in Sierra de Gredos

La Vera de Ávila

The lands of Candeleda are an extension of the Extremadura Vera and confluence of Avila, Toledo and Caceres, a common point of three provinces and three autonomous communities of Spain.

What you have to see in Candeleda is its town centre, which is one of the most beautiful and visited in Spain. Not being a monumental place, the main visit is the La Vera Paprika Visitors’ Centre (a product that almost everyone takes home).

History of Candeleda

The first settlements date back to 3000 B.C. as witnessed by the cave paintings of Peña Escrita. Other remains indicate a continuous settlement in the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.

The Veton castro of El Raso was located in this area. The name comes from the Latin word rasus. It means “plains or clearings of forest” because it was devoid of trees and sheltered only by the Pico Almanzor. It is the place known today as “Freíllo”.

The Romans forced the Vetons to descend from the heights and settle in the lands of the plain between 119 and 47 B.C. That is why they abandoned the “Tesorillo de El Raso” (silver jewellery, torques, bracelets, fibulas and denari) in their hasty departure. They maintained their cult of the Vælico god in Postoloboso. Thus, they left samples of their work with the stone in the form of boars.

Rome built a roadway that crossed the present Candeleda from east to west. They incorporated knowledge of irrigated agriculture and construction. At that time the town depended on Merida.

The Visigoths occupied this territory around the year 476. The cattle activity did not suffer any variation, being introduced the cultivation of spinach and artichokes. Visigothic remains have been found in the Sanctuary of San Bernardo.

At the end of the 12th century the Christians conquered it, depending on the city of Ávila. In 1193, after Alfonso VIII segregated the civil and ecclesiastical boundaries between Avila and Palencia, the repopulation of Candeleda began.

King Alfonso X the Wise transmitted the “carriles de Candeleda” (the rights of way through the Port of Candeleda used by the Mesta) to the knight Velasco Gómez de Ávila. Deforestation and land clearing increased the population from the middle of the 13th century.

Qué ver en Candeleda
Capea in Plaza de Candeleda

The 15th century Jewish aljama occupied the space of the current Plaza del Herrenal in Candeleda. Some episodes of the War of Independence and the Carlist Wars affected the town.

The paprika brought a lot of wealth from the 17th century to the middle of the 20th century. From the cattle activity, mainly goats, there are still sheepfolds, huts and cheese factories, now used by the rural tourism.

The village was sacked by the Napoleonic troops during the War of Independence. Also in 1836, when a group of Carlists executed several people in the village.

In 1904 the Town Hall gave the Dehesa Mayor to King Alfonso XIII to develop it as a Hispanic goat farm. The following year, the first montería (hunt) was carried out in that place. This attracted the interest of the people because of the coverage given by the newspapers. This activity meant the beginning of Candeleda as a tourist destination.

What to see in Candeleda

It is of archaeological interest for its Castro del Raso where the remains of a fortified settlement of the Vetons have been excavated, a necropolis with numerous cinerary urns and trousseaus from the Iron Age.

The town centre that we can see in Candeleda has a well cared for physiognomy, with a farmhouse provided with good examples of popular architecture. Once we have been served at the Visitors’ Reception Centre and Paprika Interpretation Room – located in what used to be a pepper dryer – we will go to the Plaza del Castillo.

To do so, we must pass in front of the sculpture of the Hispanic goat, to begin the tour on Camilo José Cela Street. Here you will find the library in what used to be a slaughterhouse.

You can reach the Plaza de las Burgas or Plazuela del Moral, a place for summer concerts. Here you can still see a manor house and the stream, a channel that was used for irrigation and sewage disposal. Interesting places to see in Candeleda.

The Calle del Moral, where many half-timbered houses are located, comes from here. These are buildings from the Tiétar Valley from the 16th and 17th centuries, which are protected by the Spanish heritage. From there to the Calle de la Corredera, a commercial centre since the 18th century. That is why the popular saying “Calle de la Corredera, how many walks you owe me, how cold I will have spent close to your walls”.

In the Calle del Pozo, besides noble houses and balconies, samples of the products of the garden cultivated by its inhabitants are exhibited for sale.

In Candeleda you can see the narrow streets around the Town Hall. In addition, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción from the XV century, declared a Cultural Interest Property. This is a Gothic building decorated with a Renaissance altarpiece and with ceramics from Talavera de la Reina made in 1540 by Juan Fernández (tile maker from El Escorial). The Chapel of the Baptistery is built in stone from Berroco. The wrought iron grille of the Chapel of San Antonio is also noteworthy.

Casa de las Flores

The Jewish presence in the area, around the Plaza del Herreñal, is recalled through the Casa de la Judería. It had direct access to the aljama. Later it would be the home of the “relative” (official) of the Inquisition resident in the town. The name of the street Amargura refers to the expulsion of the latter and the fear inspired by those who lived there.

This building that you can see in Candeleda belongs to the traditional architecture of the Tiétar Valley and the Vera region. On the façade the recessed solarium used as a drying place for figs, chestnuts and other local fruits. It is currently used as a museum, a venue for temporary art exhibitions and a showcase for the local cuisine.

In the Plaza Mayor, in addition to the Town Hall, is the Casa de las Flores. It houses a museum dedicated to the tin toy, a collection deposited by Luis Figuerola- Ferretti.

What you can see in Candeleda to the north, about 7 km away, in a place of centenary trees, is the Sanctuary of La Virgen de La Chilla. The patron saint of the town makes it a destination for summer pilgrimages. It was erected in a place where Veton sanctuaries had already existed.

According to a legend, the shepherd Finardo, from the town of Calera, cried the death of a goat when the Virgin appeared to him. She promised him to resurrect it if he managed to get the neighbours of Candeleda to build him a sanctuary in that enclave.

Its natural wealth derives from its condition of transition enclave between the Gredos massif and the extensive pastures that, together with the naturalist centre called El Vado de los Fresnos, surround the Rosarito reservoir.

Poyales del Hoyo can be reached by the AV 924 road. At present, it concentrates many craft workshops where wood, leather, vegetable fibres and textiles are worked.

At the entrance of the town, in Coladillo Street, is the Abejas del Valle Museum Hall. It is an eco-museum with honeycombs suspended from the ceiling with which the visitor can learn about the life of the beehives. Thus, it allows the visitor to observe the bees in their natural environment. You will discover the functions of bees, how to collect pollen and beekeeping techniques for extracting honey.

Roman Bridge

Must see

Qué ver en Candeleda
Church of Nuestra Señora de La Asunción
Dónde dormir en Candeleda
Sierra de Gredos

Useful information

Coordinates

40º 9’ 9.1’’ N, 5º 14’ 21.8’’ W

Distances

Ávila 107, Madrid 162 km

Elevation

428 m

Inhabitants

5177 (2013)

To everything you see in Candeleda you have to add its festivities. First, the Festivals of the Virgen de la Chilla (second and third Sunday in September). Second, Holy Week. The Corpus Christi (small altars in the street decorated with flowers and candeledana knitting).

Summer concerts by the Candeleda Polyphonic Choir. Ronda de boda (jotas and rondeñas on Moral street and others). “Villa de Candeleda” Tapas Contest (June).

Wood, leather, vegetable fiber and textile crafts in Poyales del Hoyo.


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