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Brihuega, an underground adventure

Brihuega, an underground adventure

January 2020 · 5 min read · Castile-La Mancha

Camilo José Cela affirmed, in one of his first works (1), something like that everyone talks about the Alcarria, but nobody visits the Alcarria, reaffirming itself in the great adventure, which in the background assumes knowing this very special area of Guadalajara

In fact, it could be said that back in the thirties, the Alcarria aroused more interest among the great American business patriarchs, than for some Spaniards, whose vision of the world was barely reduced to the living space in which they lived.

Good proof of this, we have it in the tycoon Randolph Hearst - whose life the great Orson Welles interpreted, in a film that became immortal, 'Citizen Kane'- who neither short nor lazy bought and moved stone to stone to the United States, a monumental Cistercian monastery, which was precisely in this area: the monastery of Ovila.

It is also true that an important part of the historical, artistic and cultural heritage has been lost, by the curious government custom, possibly inheritance of an eminently feudal attitude, that Culture, after all, can be a bread too dangerous for a town too tired of being a team of plow and cannon fodder to say it, so that for years, there were more investments in sponsoring soccer Sundays and the wobble of flamenco, which interest in fostering people a pride for a monumental heritage, which in fact was the inheritance of their ancestors.

There may be some who consider many of the villages that make up the Alcarria, as sad villages, plunged its inhabitants into some terroirs that barely provide sustenance and that provided that time, changing now more than ever, allows it.

But to discover Alcarria, is to discover part of a History, whose mysteries are lost in the deep darkness of some times, some of whose facts are still preserved in that magnificent Pandora box, which is popular memory.

One of the most interesting places, whose popular memory makes us go back, at least, to the time of the Visigoths and all the puzzles associated with their debacle, is the beautiful town of Brihuega.

A thriving community in the Middle Ages, as evidenced by its Muslim citadel and the three magnificent Romanesque-Gothic churches that rose after its conquest, Brihuega is a city, located in the heart of the Alcarria, which holds many surprises.

One of the most fascinating, we find it in that complex underground world that is located in the heart of its popular Plaza del Coso and that responds to the name - I don't know how wrong - of Arab Caves.

In fact, it seems that they already existed before the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, in 709 after Christ, when the armies of Muza and Tariq defeated the Visigothic troops of King Rodrigo in the famous battle of the Guadalete River, Well, this is indicated by part of the Visigoth arches that still exist in some of its countless galleries.

It is very possible, in addition, that as a result of the predictable stay of the Visigoths in this place, Brihuega, as Toledo and as that city of Solomon, which is the Medinaceli soriana, has seen an increased part of its alternative history, with the fabulous legends concerning a formidable treasure, which like the famous Ark of the Covenant, has not yet been located: the Table or Table of Solomon.

That would also mean a small base - of wobbly foundations, due to lack of documentation proving it - of the presence and interest of the Knights of the Order of the Temple for the place and the creation of a beautiful sanctuary, that of Peña , in honor of a Black Virgin, whose legend says, to add even more mystery to the subject, which was found precisely in a cave.

To enter, then, in these so-called -and I reaffirm myself in my assessment of erroneously- Arab Caves, is to enter a small labyrinth or labyrinth, where the Minotaur can be to end up completely disoriented, if we do not follow the previously established itinerary, by Much hobby that we have to imitate the adventures of that magnificent and marginal archaeologist of Steven Spielberg called Indiana Jones.

But if you see the video that accompanies this post, look at the curious shape of the galleries, that of a perfect stone matrix or, if you prefer a more artistic and veiled description, a perfect Pisces Vesica or mandorla or pantocrator, where medieval artists represented the resurrected figure of Christ in Maiestas or in Majesty.

It is also worthwhile to look at the magnificent Visigoth arches, which apparently in a three-dimensional way, reconnect us with the magic of numbers and the importance that a particular number had, not only for Christianity, but also for the vast majority of Religious cultures of remote antiquity: the Three.

Anyway, if this does not convince you that a visit to some places in the Alcarria, such as Brihuega, can be of fascinating interest, I will try to seduce you later, showing you some other wonders of this formidable region of Guadalajara.

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Notes, References and Bibliography:

(1) Camilo José Cela: ‘Journey to the Alcarria’.

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