The village of Hita is at the foot of a cone-shaped mountain. And it’s precisely that mound the reason why a town was settled here many centuries ago because of such a perfect natural watchtower is not something you find every day.
So the place was a great guard post in Roman times, but in the Middle Ages the importance was even greater; enough to be cited in the Poem of El Cid or in the Legend of the Seven Infants of Lara.
In the eleventh century, Alfonso VI arrived to reconquer the village, and this followed a long coexistence between Christians, Muslims and Jews. It would be the latter ones who would end up controlling the wine business, and most of the underground caves turned into cellars. No less than a hundred of them still remain under Hita’s soil today.
But maybe the name of Hita reminds you more of an archpriest. Particularly of Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, a medieval character who wrote the Book of Good Love almost seven hundred years ago. In school, we were taught that this was one of the masterpieces of Spanish literature, but what it is not so well known is that its real title is unknown. However, this does not stop it from being the centre of the Medieval Festival of Hita which is held annually, on the first Saturday of July to recreate those times and even celebrates a knights’ tournament at the foot of the medieval wall.
Because, indeed, there was a beautiful wall here. Iñigo López de Mendoza, Marquis of Santillana, ordered its construction in the fifteenth century. He was as good with arms as he was with literature, and when the village came under his rule, he decided to fortify it and rebuild the Castle of Hita, which was an Arab fortress still standing.
The Marquis’ era was, apparently, the last period of splendour of the place. Some sections remain of those walls and the imposing Puerta de Santa María. You just have to go through the latter to find yourself in the Plaza del Arcipreste, which hosted a medieval market and a large number of Jewish merchant’s homes.
The Church of San Pedro was once the most important one of the village, and the one that sheltered the crypts of the noblemen of Hita. But the Civil War destroyed the temple, as well as a good part of the town, and the tombstones of the nobles were moved to the Church of San Juan Bautista. This one is of Gothic-Mudejar style, with a later tower of Herrerian style. A strange mixture? Probably, but you must see it. It is really beautiful. In fact … The whole village is beautiful.