|History of Villena|
The found oldest vestiges in the municipal term of Villena have been going back Half to the Paleolithic one, for approximately 50,000 years. Since then, as much the Prehistory as History extensively is represented in each of their moments.
The Prehistory is noticeable, on the one hand, by the continuity of the settlement stated from the Paleolithic one Half; on the other, by the originality of deposits as the House of Lara, representative of the Neolithic one in plain and, finally, by the definitive irruption of urbanism in one of the main cities of the Western Mediterranean: Cabezo Redondo, pertaining at the age of the Bronze. The development reached in this stage allows that Villena appears with capital letter in History, since is this culture belongs the magnificent well-known golden set as “Treasure of Villena”.
The continuity of the human process is stated by the presence of Iberian deposits and Roman towns distributed by all the term.
The origin of the city
History has seen pass iberos, Romans, visigodos and Muslims, but to dive in the origins of the city is more problematic. The first news that is had of Villena is the one of the treaty of the Muslims with Teodomiro in year 713. In him the city of BLNTIA names (BILYANA as of century XI), that with the own flight of vowels of the Islamic writing, it has been identified by some investigators as Villena.
According to the sources written that have been conserved, the general aspect of the city before Christian Conquista had to be magnificent: gardens in which the water of the old Lagoon and numerous springs would play a predominant role. In the urban area the travellers would see their more excellent constructions, as the castles of Atalaya and Salvatierra and, probably, the mosque located in the Church of Santa Maria.
Pacts and influences
The geographic-historical situation of Villena has been always the one of border zone. Borders and limits have deeply marked the received cultural influences, therefore the Muslim Kingdom of Murcia had to that city of gardens as it limits north, giving him also the Christians this condition.
The Christian conquest of Villena took place in 1240, was realised by the commander of Alcañiz in the name of Jaime I and Corona de Aragón, having failed to fulfill this way previous pacts that left to the Castilian orbit this place. The Treaty of Almizra in 1243 gave back it to Castile, being created then the Manorialism of Villena.
Later, in 1261, Catalan and Aragonese Castile again needed the help choking to the revolt morisca.
This noticeable character of absorption of diverse influences, Castilian and Aragonese, was not settled with the creation of the Manorialism of Villena - whose first Mr. el Infante Don Manuel was brother minor of Alfonso X “the Wise person” and son-in-law of Jaime I, but D later. Juan Manuel, second Sir and first Duke of Villena, married with Doña Constanza, daughter of Aragonese king Jaime II.
The Manorialism, Principality, Duchy and later Marquesado de Villena extended on the part of the present provinces of Almeria, Murcia, Albacete, Alicante, Valencia and River basin, and understood twenty-three localities.
The titles and the wars
As of century XIV a long period in which is opened Villena will be under Castilian jurisdiction until century XIX, and will begin to promote in the scale of granted titles to its gentlemen and citizens.
If first it obtained the one of “Villa” of hand of the Manueles, in 1488 happened to depend directly on realengo and to enjoy different privileges when supporting against the insurrectionist Marquess Don Diego López Pacheco, to Reyes Católicos. The grandson of these, Carlos I, granted the title to him of “City” in 1525. A period of certain tranquillity, only broken is opened by the eternal territorial conflict of the Alhorines, between Caudete and Villena to the edge of century XVI. During the War of Succession between Austrias and Borbones, Villena supported to these last ones in the figure of Felipe V, being the Castillo of the Watchtower an excellent place of arms to end the charters of the Kingdom of Valencia in the famous battle of Almansa in 1707. This made him gain the title of: “Very noble, very loyal and fidelisima”, that today figure in its shield.
The new city
The urban image of Villena at the end of century XVIII is the one of an open city that no longer had walls, inserts in the way of the development with the step, in the middle of century XIX, of the railroad that united Alicante and Madrid, or with the drawn up one that connected it with Alcoy, growing with the sign of the times. And it is here when the city will definitively return its eyes to history when getting up itself to the province of Alicante in 1836.
The present development of the city has caused that Villena is a dynamic city equipped with own a cultural infrastructure and services of a modern city; they serve as example the superb Covered Sport Pavilion, the Industrial estate, the House of the Culture, the Chapí Theater, its museums and other many manifestations of all nature that are come off the reading of the following pages.
Source: M.I. City council of Villena - Council of Tourism