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Title: Villena  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Valencian Community, Vinalopó, El Argar, Cañada, Alicante, Biar
Collection: Alt Vinalopó, Municipalities in the Province of Alicante, Populated Places in the Province of Alicante, Villena
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Aerial view of Villena
Aerial view of Villena
Flag of Villena
Coat of arms of Villena
Coat of arms
Motto: Villena ¡un tesoro!
Location of Villena in the Valencian Community
Location of Villena in the Valencian Community
Villena is located in Spain
Location of Villena in the Valencian Community
Country  Spain
Autonomous Community  Valencian Community
Province Alicante
Comarca Alto Vinalopó
Populated places
 • Mayor Francisco Javier Esquembre Menor (LVE)
 • Total 345.6 km2 (133.4 sq mi)
Elevation 505 m (1,657 ft)
Population (2009)
 • Total 35,222
 • Density 100/km2 (260/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 03400
Website Official website (Spanish)

Villena (Spanish pronunciation: ) is a city in Spain, in the Valencian Community. It is located at the northwest part of Alicante, and borders to the west with Castilla-La Mancha and Murcia, to the north with the province of Valencia and to the east and south with the province of Alicante. It is the capital of the comarca of the Alto Vinalopó. The municipality has an area of 345.6 km² and a population of 34,928 inhabitants as of INE 2008.[2]

There is evidence of settlement in the area from Middle Paleolithic.[3] However, it is on dispute if the current city dates from visigothic times or before, though certainly it existed in the 11th century, during the Muslim period.[4] After the Christian conquest,[5] it became Seigneury, Principality, Duchy and finally Marquisate,[6] until the people, encouraged by the Catholic Monarchs, revolted against the marquis. In 1525 Charles V conceded the title of City to Villena.[7] This is the most economically prosperous period, as shown by the monuments that survived to nowadays. Although a railway station was inaugurated in 1858,[8] economy kept being mainly agricultural until the rural exode that took place in the 1960s. Then, the economic model changed rapidly so that currently economy is based mainly on tertiary sector and industry, chiefly footwear, construction and furniture.[9]

The historical city and surroundings contain an important group of historical remains,[10] including two castles and several churches, hermitages, palaces and squares, as well as a number of museums, standing out the Archaeological Museum "José María Soler". Among the main cultural events are the Moors and Christians festival and the Concurso de Jóvenes Intérpretes "Ruperto Chapí" (Young Interpreters Contest).


  • Toponymy 1
  • Symbols 2
  • Physical geography 3
  • History 4
  • Main sights 5
  • Events 6
  • Economy 7
  • Sport 8
  • Famous citizens 9
  • Twin cities 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


The first known name of the area is Ad Turres, which appears in the Vascula Apollinaria and has been identified with some of the Roman villas or postae in the Via Augusta itinerary, at some point between Villena and Font de la Figuera.[11] Near the latter there is evidence of an old Tower already ruined by the 14th century.[12] As for the origin of the term Villena, there is some polemic. Menéndez Pidal proposed an evolution from a hypothetic antroponym Bellius or Vellius and the sufix -ana, as in Lucena (Lucius + -ana) or Maracena (Marcus + -ana), which would give the Roman word Belliana or Velliana.[13] However, Belliana or Bellius have not been documented in Roman times, as well as the evolution from Belliana to Villena involves several phonetic difficulties.[14] So, Domene Verdú indicates that the origin of the toponym would be the term بليانة Bilyāna, purely Arabic, meaning "the filled (by Allah)".[15] This Arabic term, documented from the 11th century on,[4] evolved in two ways. On the one hand, following the rules of Medieval Spanish, to Belliena, as is written in the Historia Roderici (around 1180). On the other hand, Belliena was replaced by the Aragonese term Billena after the Christian conquest, which was carried out mostly by Aragonese and Catalan. The current spelling was consolidated around the 15th century, since Spanish had totally lost the distinction between [b] and [v] and writing was attracted by the word villa, meaning "town".


The coat of arms of Villena has been used traditionally since at least 1477, but has never been made official.[16] The castle in the first quarter comes from the symbol of the Crown of Castile, whereas the lion in the second quarter and the winged hand in the third are legacy of don Juan Manuel, second lord of the city. The three pinetrees and the pond in the fourth quarter refer to the Lagoon of Villena or the Fuente del Chopo, formerly big wealth sources for the city; the first as a salt evaporation pond and the second as a source of fresh water. The crown is a symbol of the marquisate of Villena. As the coat of arms has never made official, there are different versions according to the City Hall's terms of office, as well as certain polemic about the position of the second and third quarter.[16][17]

Physical geography

Villena is placed northwest in the province of Alicante, in the comarca of Alto Vinalopó. It is in the middle of an important crossroad which links the Valencian Community, the Region of Murcia and Castile-La Mancha, in a natural corridor known as Villena's Corridor or Vinalopó's Corridor, since the river Vinalopó flows through the municipal term of Villena.[18] This corridor has been of capital importance since prehistoric times (this is the place where the Via Augusta led first into the Meseta Central), and, being at the middle of towns as Biar, Sax, Font de la Figuera, Yecla or Caudete made Villena an important transports junction.[19] Villena's municipality, having an area of 345,6 km2 in the second widest in the province of Alicante.[20]

Sierra de la Villa mountain; close-up the pine grove, up in the right the Salvatierra castle ruins.


Villena region was an important place during Bronze Age, with the Cabezo Redondo remains.

After the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula the city was called Medina Bilyana and was one of the seven cities mentioned in the Treaty of Tudmir. Calatrava knights reconquered the city by the king James I of Aragon. This caused some tensions between Castile and Aragon, since Villena should have been reserved to Castile under the treaties of Tudilén and Cazorla, so both crowns had to sign news treaties: The Treaty of Almizra, Torrellas and Elche.

After the Christian conquest, Villena becomes the capital of an important seigneury, later duchy, principality and marquisate, until the popular rebellion against the Marquis, instigated by the Catholic Monarchs.

Main sights


Villena is home to the most crowded festival of Moros y Cristianos in Spain.

It is also home to one of the biggest rock / heavy metal festivals in Spain, Leyendas del Rock, which takes place every August.

Aerial view of Villena.


The economy of the city is based on footwear (like in the neighbouring cities of Elda and Novelda), pottery, furnitures and wines.


Juan Carlos Ferrero, former world no. 1 tennis player has developed the JC Ferrero Equelite Tennis Academy, which has produced such players as Guillermo García-López.

Famous citizens

Twin cities

  • Escalona, Spain, since 1982,[22] on the occasion of the 700 anniversary of the birth of don Juan Manuel, who was lord of Villena, Escalona and Peñafiel.
  • Peñafiel, Spain, since 1982,[22][23] on the occasion of the 700 anniversary of the birth of don Juan Manuel, who was lord of Villena, Escalona and Peñafiel.

See also


  1. ^ "Nomenclátor. Relación de unidades poblacionales. Villena". Retrieved 21 February 2010. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ a b  
  5. ^ GARRIDO, David (2008). "Reivindicación del Medioevo villenense" [Claim of Villena's Middle Ages]. Moros y Cristianos · Villena [Moors & Christians · Villena] (in Spanish). Villena: Ayuntamiento de Villena. 
  6. ^  
  7. ^  
  8. ^ "La construcción de la red ferroviaria alicantina: Proceso de construcción" [Building of the railway network in Alicante: Building process]. 150 años del ferrocarril de Alicante [150 years of railway in Alicante] (in Spanish). Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  9. ^ Pateco. Cámaras de Comercio de la Comunidad Valenciana [Pateco. Commerce Chambers of the Valencian Community (2002). "Análisis socioeconómico" [Socio-Economic Analysis] (PDF). Plan de Acción Comercial de Villena [Commercial Action Plan for Villena] (in Spanish). 
  10. ^ Generalitat Valenciana. Conselleria de Cultura i Esport. Direcció General de Patrimoni Cultural Valencià [Valencian Government. Culture and Sport Council. General Direction of Valencian Cultural Heritage. "Casco antiguo" [Ancient City] (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  11. ^ RUBIERA, María José (1985). Villena en las calzadas romana y árabe [Villena in the Roman and Arabic roads] (in Spanish). Alicante:  
  12. ^ PIQUERAS HABA, Juan, ed. (1995). "El marc territorial i els seus origens:Els antecedents ibero-romans" [Territorial frame and its origins : Ibero-Roman antecedents]. Geografia de les comarques valencianes [Geography of the Valencian comarcas] (in Valencian-Catalan) 1. València: Foro. p. 328.  
  13. ^  
  14. ^ DOMENE VERDÚ, José Fernando (1986). "El nombre de Villena [The name of Villena]". Revista Villena (Villena: Ayuntamiento de Villena) (36). 
  15. ^ DOMENE VERDÚ, José Fernando (1983). "Influencia aragonesa en el habla de Villena [Aragonese influence on Villena's speech]". Revista Villena (Villena: Ayuntamiento de Villena) (33). 
  16. ^ a b "El auténtico escudo de la villa" [The real coat of arms of the town]. Diario La Verdad (in Spanish). January 27, 2008. Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  17. ^ "El león de la discordia" [The lion of contention]. Escaño 22: Análisis político de Villena (in Spanish). Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  18. ^ Hernández Alcaraz, Laura; Ayelo Pérez, José, eds. (2003). "Situación Geográfica" [Geographic location]. Villena ¡un tesoro! [Villena, a treasure!] (in Spanish) (3rd ed.). Villena: M.I. Ayuntamiento de Villena, en colaboración con el ITVA. 
  19. ^ "Carreteras" [Roads]. Gran Enciclopedia Temática de la Comunidad Valenciana [Great Thematic Encyclopaedia of the Valencian Community] (in Spanish). Geografía [Geography]. Editorial Prensa Valenciana. 2009. 
  20. ^ Portal Civis de la Dirección General de Administración Local. "Información Municipal - Datos de entidades locales · Villena" [Local Information - Local Entities Data · Villena] (in Spanish). Retrieved August 12, 2009. 
  21. ^ "RESOLUCIÓN de 7 de enero de 2003, de la Dirección General de Patrimonio Artístico de la Consejería de Cultura y Educación, por la que se incoa expediente de declaración de bien de interés cultural a favor de la colección arqueológica del Tesoro de Villena." [January 7, 2003, RESOLUTION of the General Direction on Artistic Heritage of the Culture and Education Council, which opens a file on the declaration as Good of Cultural Interest (BIC) the archaeologic collection known as Treasure of Villena] (pdf). [Spanish] State Official Bulletin (BOE) (in Spanish) (Madrid: Spanish Government) (49): 7798–7802. 26 February 2003. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
    Desde el punto de vista histórico, artístico y arqueológico, el Tesoro de Villena constituye un «unicum», un depósito no normalizado, por su peso y contenido (A. Perea). De hecho, se trata del segundo tesoro de vajilla áurea más importante de Europa, tras el de las Tumbas Reales de Micenas en Grecia (A. Mederos). [From a historic, artistic and archaeological point of view, the Treasure of Villena constitutes a "unicum", a non-normalised deposit, according to its weight and content (A. Perea). In fact, it is the second most important golden tableware finding in Europe, after that of the Royal Graves in Mycenae in Greece (A. Mederos)
  22. ^ a b El Periódico de Villena (August 6, 2008). "Peñafiel, ciudad hermana de Villena, participará en la XIII Feria del Campo" [Peñafiel, twin city of Villena, will take part at the 13th Countryside Fair] (in Spanish). Retrieved August 30, 2009. La Concejalía de Agricultura ha invitado a los Ayuntamientos de Escalona y Peñafiel 
  23. ^ Diario Información (September 26, 2008). "La Feria del Campo de Villena abre hoy con más de 160 expositores" [Villena's Countryside Fair open its doors today with more than 160 display stands] (in Spanish). Retrieved August 30, 2009. Por primera vez, Peñafiel, ciudad hermanada con Villena... [For the first time, Peñafiel, twin city of Villena...] 

External links

  • Ayuntamiento de Villena (Spanish)
  • Archaeological Museum "José María Soler" (Spanish)
  • "Esculptor Navarro Santafé" Museum (Spanish) (Catalan) (English) (French)
  • Moros y Cristianos Festival Central Assembly (Spanish)
  • Kakv, Cultural Center (Spanish)
  • Villena in English (English)

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