There is a legend that states that hundreds of years ago in a place called ‘El Sitio’, ‘la Virgen de los Desamparados’ constantly appeared. Every time the statue was brought back to the village, she would sooner or later return to El Sitio. However, ‘El Sitio’ also has another name, the hermitage of the Desamparados, because of the many visits of the Virgin.
An agreement was reached that has remained in place to this day because of the Virgin’s insistence on staying at the hermitage. Therefore, the Virgen spends eight months in the hermitage, between September and May, and four months in the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Every time the statue is moved, a religious procession accompanied her.
It is known that the hermitage of Los Desamparados was built between the 16th and 17th centuries on a small hermitage, in other words, a very solitary place previously inhabited by a hermit. In the past, this hermitage housed the image of the ‘Cristo del Amparo’ (Christ of the Forsaken). Later, it was extended with the intention of giving shelter to ‘la Virgen de los Desamparados’ after those mysterious apparitions.
As previously mentioned, this spot is special not only because of its leyend, but also because of its location. The hermitage of Los Desamparados is located next to the river Guadiela, a few kilometres from the village of Buendía in Cuenca. There are two options for getting there. Firstly, you can leave your car next to a terrace and you have to walk a bit more than a kilometre to get there. The second option is a hiking route of a total of 12 kilometres, which starts at the Buendía reservoir and runs through the Enmedio and Santa Cruz Mountain ranges.
Both paths end at the same point: the hermitage of Los Desamparados. It is surrounded by a welcoming wide promenade next to the river. Before entering, the visitor is welcome by a wide promenade along the river. Benches, picnic areas and even toilets are part of this leisure area.
The church, set in a ravine, has an ashlar and semicircular doorway with a barrel vault nave. On the altar is the image of the Virgin, whose previous image was burned down in 1936. Its replacement image is not of great artistic interest. On the outskirts of the hermitage, you can reach the Colmenar de Morisco viewpoint, from where you can enjoy marvellous views of the surrounding area.
The village of Buendía, halfway between Madrid, Cuenca and Guadalajara, has a wide range of activities. Firstly, you can spend the day, before or after visiting the hermitage, having a walk around the village, which is considered one of the most beautiful in Cuenca. In its urban area, the Church of ‘Nuestra Señora de la Asunción’ and the ‘Plaza Mayor’ square stand out. Moreover, you can still see some fragments of the wall that surrounded it along its streets, which was built during the 15th century. Just at the southern entry to the town, you will find the caves of Buendía. Ancient caverns-cellars that nowadays are used as a meeting place for the ‘peñas’.
Another of the main attractions is the reservoir. It was built in 1958 and is located on the course of the river Guadiela, a tributary of the Tagus. Although its main function is obviously to supply water, the reservoir is also used as a leisure space. Fishing, bathing and kayaking or paddle surfing are its main attractions for visitors.
Finally, we could not forget mentioning ‘la ruta de las Caras’ (the route of the Faces), perhaps the activity that has given the town its greatest popularity. This is a route of barely two kilometres, which is accessible to everyone, located on the outskirts of Buendía, next to the reservoir. During this walk, you can find 18 sculptures and bas-reliefs carved in 1992 by the artists Jorge Maldadonado and Eulogio Reguillo.
The hermitage of Los Desamparados is one of those places free of mass tourism that is a perfect destination to spend the day. Its location and its famous route are a plan yet to be discovered by many. Furthermore, it is close to several large population cities and there are many activities in the surrounding area. For all these reasons, we believe that this hermitage and its surroundings can be the ideal place to enjoy a good weekend.
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