In the very heart of this royal burgh, perched on the hill where the centre of Vinuesa grows, an elongated enclosure exudes through and through its pinariego charm (referring to the pine tree region in Soria and Burgos). Vinuesa’s Plaza Mayor (Main Square) stretches among old stone country houses and arched doorways, flanked by the Village Hall, the Church and the Seminary. Being the epicentre of the village, some of Vinuesa’s most emblematic streets flow into it, thus becoming the centre and witness of festivals and traditions that coexist with the pulse of everyday life throughout the year.
From the south wing, a building presides over the square with its white and recent workmanship. It is the Consistory, whose double wooden eaves keep the memory of the old village hall, while its balcony watches over the memory of the Palace of the Carrillo family, at the other end of the square. Burned to ashes during the Spanish War of Independence, today only the story remains of that great house built at some point in the 18th century by a family stemming from the German nobility, then at the service of the Castilian kings in Vinuesa. After all, this royal burgh grew under the protection of monarchs and nobles who chose it as a place of recreation, passing on to it the rich heritage that gave it the nickname of Corte de los Pinares (the Court of Pine Forests). A few years ago, when not a single vestige of the beautiful Renaissance façade and the Tuscan columns was left, this brick building was invaded by the silences from the seminarians from El Burgo de Osma and other religious orders. It inherited its name from those religious retreats: the “Seminar”, which, from time to time, houses the voices and activities of the different groups that sometimes rent it.
El Escorial monastery, who began the building works, although the master stonemason died and Juan del Valle had to take over, finishing its construction a century later. That is the reason why this construction of three naves and a tower boasting three bodies does not present a uniform appearance nowadays. The façade, with Herrerian reminiscences and an ancient sundial engraved in stone, gives way to an interior of great interest, whose central nave presents two of its most remarkable works: at the chevet, a Plateresque pine altarpiece, one of the most important in the region; at its feet, the choir, with a magnificent organ dating from the 18th century.
People’s imagination is exhaustive and fruitful. That is why a legend is associated with this Virgen del Pino, title under which the church was built, and also patron saint of one of the most famous (and celebrated) festivals in the province. They say that one day, a statue of the Virgin appeared in the crown of a pine tree that had its branches in the municipality of Covaleda and its trunk in Vinuesa. The dispute ensued, and they say that, had it not been for the visontinas (the women of Vinuesa), who armed themselves with pine branches to defend it, the statue would have gone to the neighbouring town.
Another story reports the origin of La Pinochada, a tradition which supposedly responds to a fight over boundary stones, also against the people of Covaleda, and also won thanks to the intervention of visontinas. For this reason, every year on 16 August, and commemorating a legendary or real fight, the visontinas brandish their pinochos (pine branches), while saying “In a year from today…”. They are the lead characters in a festival of uncertain origin, declared of tourist interest and which could well have older, pagan roots.
From the centre of the square, a recent, non-seasonal maypole presides over the scene. From up high, this slender pine, cut and hoisted by local young men, watches over the swirl of colours in the shawls of the piñorras (the regional female attire). During the parade, the Brotherhood of the Married carries the statue of the Virgen del Pino; the Singles, in turn, carry San Roque. Later on, they will simulate a fight. The Married will win this pretend fight twice; finally, everyone will toss their hats into the air as a sign of a shared victory.
Many are the legends and stories that populate the past of this land. Memories of fertility and harvests, romances told by the light of the fire, stories of murders, the dark waters of a bottomless lagoon… The ancestral cultural heritage runs through the heart and surroundings of this ancient royal burgh right at the epicentre of the Pine Forest region. A village rocked by the waters of the reservoir and the smell of pine needles, which raises its architectural trademarks of eaves and conical chimneys over the Revinuesa valley. In the back of the church, at the end of Camarilla Street, some sort of natural viewpoint looks out over the reservoir. From there, a beautiful panoramic view spreads to the traveller’s feet: it is the promise of the magnificent natural environment that surrounds the village, a space filled with bathing spots, mycology, adventure sports, excursions and routes on foot or on a mountain bike, short and long trails … the immense environmental heritage that runs through one of the most extensive forest patches in the country, criss-crossed by possibilities and fertile greenery.