Villanueva del conde is a small village with a population of 120 in the heart of the Sierra de Francia, some 70 kilometres from Salamanca. It is also known as “the balcony of the sierra” because of its privileged position from wich the splendid panoramic views can be appreciated. Surrounded by olive trees, vineyards, and fruit orchards, with the cherry tree playing the most important rôle in the local agriculture, Villanueva is truly a magical garden in the middle of the vast open spaces of nature.
Villanueva has been classified as a historical monument in 2015, for its defensive structure, almost unique in Europe according to ethnologists at the university of Salamanca. The oldest part of the village is comprised of semi-detached houses forming central rectangular orchards and kitchen gardens only accessible from the houses. Thus, when under attack, the villagers could take refuge and resist a siege.
Within the sierra itself Villanueva enjoys a special climate. Situated below the mountain, and because of its orientation, the summer temperatures are less intense. And, given its altitude, the nights are much cooler. There are few better places to sleep soundly…
Like other villages in the sierra, Villanueva has experienced a significant depopulation, a tendency wich is gradually slowing down thanks to the development of rural turism. The harvest, the cherry picking and the pig killing are important moments in the life of the village. But these days Villanueva is at its best during weekends and over the holiday season. It is during the summer, above all from the 19th to the 22nd of august when the village fiestas are celebrated, when Villanueva recovers its former atmosphere; a village full of children running in the streets, kicking a ball around, friends chatting outside the cafes…
Services in Villanueva del Conde
In the village, you can find a little supermarket and one bar with good “tapas”
Website of Villanueva del Conde
A Typical House: Explanations
The majority of the houses in this part of the sierra are distributed in such a way that the lower part of the ground floor was designed for small oil and winepresses and it was here that the olives and other seasonal fruit were stored. The bodega, or area for making and storing wine can also be found in this part of the house. At the entrance to the dwelling were the stalls for the mules, horses and even the odd goat. The sty was home to the ever-present pigs wich provided sustenance for the family for much of the year. The large room was on the first floor surrounded by various alcobas, or box-rooms, wich served as bedrooms. The kitchen could be found on the second floor and the heat and smoke of the fireplace served to smoke and dry the cured meats stored under the roof in the attic, the airiest place in the house.The balconies around the front of the house are very characteristic of this type of dwelling. They were situated on the second floor to take full advantage of the sun for drying corncobs, figs.
The thick stone walls of the bodega served as the base for a timber framework filled with adobe. Richer families covered the façade of the house with lime. Other villages such as La Alberca used small stones instead of adobe. Whatever material that could be found locally was used.
How to get
GPS coordinates: 40.510469, -6.011831
For the majority of people the best option is to go through Salamanca. Follow the road towards Portugal until you see signs for Vecinos (C512). From Vecinos go on until Tamames, take the road to Béjar in the direction of Sequeros. Villanueva is 2 km after Sequeros.
International airports: Madrid Barajas (3,5 hours) — Valladolid (2 hours)
Angela and Fred
Nature lovers…One was born in the Sierra, the other in France