This town is located in the Vega de Genil, by the Río Genil. Its main attractions are its boulevards and the tree-lined roads that run parallel to the river that flows through the town centre. There has not always been the bridge that stands today, so a boat was used to cross the river. This is why the town used to be called Villanueva de la Barca (‘barco’ means ‘boat’ in Spanish).
The white houses set against the green leafy background, the welcoming nature of the locals and the excellent sausages make a visit to this peaceful corner very worthwhile.
With the division of lands after the Reconquista, the area of Villanueva was given to the Conde de Tendilla, Lázaro de Peralta. During this period a small town began to grow around a few inns that were dotted along the banks of the Río Genil. At first the village was called ‘Talancos’, from the word ‘talanquera’, a defensive construction to guard against the overflowing riverbanks. For this reason the river is also known as the Arroyo de Talancos.
For the most part of the 16th century the town belonged to the Simancas family and was renamed ‘Villanueva de Tájara’. In 1577, Juan de Simancas sold it to Don Alonso Messía de Alarcón and his wife Francisca Arias de Mansilla Pérez de Herrasti. Don Alonso and his wife constituted the Mayorazgo of Messía in the person of their first-born son Francisco. He changed the double ‘s’ in the surname of his father with an ‘x’ and bought the title Señorío de Villanueva from King Felipe III in 1614. He is the person to whom the town owes its present day name. He lived in a magnificent stately building that was transformed by him and his descendants into a casa-palacio, which used to be the architectural highlight of the town. It was demolished in the 1990s because it was in such poor condition.
Villanueva has excellent sausages and produces delicious olive oil. The locally grown vegetables are used in dishes such as Patatas y naranja, Pipirrana, Porra malena and Aliño de espárragos.