If there is a place to stop before heading off to discover Vinuesa, that is Plaza Plazuela. Not only because, in the urban anatomy of the village, this square acts as a knot where the streets leading to the Plaza Mayor and the centre converge, but also because its ensemble is a magnificent representative of a royal burgh from the 18th and 19th centuries. This includes a rollo, some sort of “justice pillar”, which is a Bien de Interés Cultural (a “Cultural Interest Asset”) telling us about its past and its reasons to become a royal burgh.
Its perimeter is outlined with both regular and large country houses, which are an example of the local architecture: houses of two storeys and wide eaves, sometimes with double rows and painted roof tiles, on balconies and semi-circular arch doors with large voussoirs.
Particularly noteworthy is the old Palace of the Hedilla or Casa Muriel, a two-story building in ashlar stone, which, like the rest, exudes to its doorstep memories of the cart era. On its second floor, the balcony preserves an inscription where you can read: “AVE MARIA PURISSIMA YEAR OF 1760”. And on top of it, the wide wooden cornice with brackets reinforces the pinariego (from this pine forest region) workmanship. Although its façade is currently covered with stone, from a typological point of view, it still remains one of the most interesting urban ensembles preserved. The house, one of the first to have a pinariego fireplace and kitchen, consists of three bodies articulated around a courtyard with Ionic columns, which opens to another patio where carts and horse carriages would go into.
On its upper floor, under the cantilevered wooden cornice with brackets, we can see three balconies and the coat of arms of the Vinuesa family, divided into a star, a vase, a castle and a fleur-de-lis. The ensemble is completed by a beautiful terraced garden with a crenelated stone wall, crowned with the coat of arms of the Vinuesa family.
But the main element of this square of repeated sounds and diminutive name is, without a doubt, the pillar erected at its epicentre. This rollo de justicia (“pillar of justice”) is made of stone on circular stands, has a polygonal ashlar stone plan, and is finished in a pinnacle adorned with circular patterns. It dates from 1776, when King Carlos III granted the royal burgh of Vinuesa a jurisdictional role. Contrary to what is traditionally believed, no one is known to have been executed on it, since this was a rollo and not a pillory (although it is sometimes called that); that is to say, a symbol of administrative category and status of villa (royal burgh), and not of punishment. For more details on this matter, the executions were held at Calle del Pósito and in the Fuente Salada fountain, where the Gallows and Knife were installed in 1775 as symbols of the jurisdiction in criminal matters.
We said at the beginning that this was a good starting point to get to know the burgh. Now, with a little more of its history behind our footsteps, we can walk through its present and its past. In the village, there are some houses and documents with a coat of arms. Traces of legends and history are drawn in it, because, after all, the past of villages and men is woven with a mixture of both.
Legend of the coat of arms of Vinuesa
Legend has it that, one day in the 15th century, Juan I of Castile was hunting with his son in the visontino mountains, with such bad luck that he fell off his horse and was attacked by a wolf. It is said that, had it not been for the swift action of some local hunters, Juan II would have died. In gratitude, the monarch granted the village its coat of arms in the year 1416 and gave them the Vallilengua pine forest, until then a royal forest. An episode that is remembered and honored in the coat of arms of the town where we can see the presence of the pine forests of the area giving shelter to the wolf of the legend. A shield flanked at the top with the royal crown in allusion to the Castilian monarch.