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Country House Los Laureles.
C/ de la Horcajada, 20
C.P. 05500 Piedrahita - Avila
Tlf: +34 653094024 | +34 920362892
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Palace of the Dukes of Alba
After the acquisition of the Corneja Valley in 1366 by the Alvarez de Toledo family, they quickly built an importan house in the town, at that time the main one of the manor. In fact, it is known that in 1370 King Henry II had already given permission to the lords to carry out the building of their castle in Piedrahita. This fortress was located in the south part of the town, particularly in the area nowadays occupies the front yard of the Palace of the Dukes of Alba, as it was demonstrated excavations at the beginning of this century.
Apparently, the Medieval Castle was demolished and the debris were used as filler in the foundation during the building works of the current palace. Although the remains found in the excavations have been scarce, it has been determined that the castle would have a square plant with round towers at the corners, similar to the neighboring Castle of Barco de Ávila, and would be of similar dimensions taking into account the surrounding pit. Specifically, the remains found would correspond to a defensive barbican that would protect that area of the castle and not walls properly. Among the remains found highlight two towers that are surrounded by the wall of the barbican which also presents three defensive windows.
The current palace, today the public school of the town, was built by Don Fernando de Silva Álvarez de Toledo, XII Duke of Alba and XI Earl of Piedrahita, and its works were made between 1755 and 1766, settling on the foundations of Medieval Castle of Navancuerda, also owned by the mentioned dukes.
The Palace consists of two lateral pavilions and developed a central body that unites them. Ahead of its main facade stands the courtyard while on the opposite we can find the gardens that form the current park.
The construction of the palace is complemented by other buildings such as the Tower of the Clock, the kitchens, the stables or the arms front yard where were two houses intended to serfdom.
The Palace was mainly used as a summer residence, season in which the Dukes were accompanied by important characters of the time, among which it is worth mention the painter Francisco de Goya, who would paint in this town his famous work called La Vendimia.
In the early nineteenth century, during the War of Independence, the Palace was destroyed by the local people accusing the Dukes of Alba of French tendencies. In August 1931, the City Council of Piedrahita bought the heirs of the House of Alba the Palace and the gardens for a price of 60,000 pesetas paid in cash.
Subsequently, the Palace was enabled by the Ministry of Education as a school and the gardens became the city park although it is known that since 1939, after the Civil War, it was divided and parceled among the ex-combatants who used it as orchards although years after they were abandoned and used as a park.
MARTIN RODRIGO, Ramon "Piedrahita: Bosquejo Historico", Universidad de Salamanca, Salamanca, 1995
MORENO BLANCO, Raimundo "La residencia del III Duque de Alba en Piedrahita", en Congreso V Centenario del Nacimiento del III Duque de Alba: Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Diputaciones Provinciales de Avila y Salamanca e Institucion Gran Duque de Alba, Avila, 2008. pp 219-227
CABALLERO ARRIBAS, Jesus, et al. "El Castillo de Piedrahita (Avila): Una presencia siempre intuida" en Castillos de España, numero 126, Asociacion Española de Amigos de los Castillos, Madrid, 2002. pp 21-29
DEL VALLE, Manuel, "El Palacio y Jardines del Duque de Alba" en "Programa de Ferias y Fiestas de Piedrahita de 1992"