La Casa Grande de Albarracín is an old noble house.
The coat of arms on its façade shows that it was once owned by one of the most influential families of Albarracín, Sánchez Monterde. The estates that nowadays form part of the properties of la Casa Grande belonged to a Cistercian monastery in the 13th century. The monastery has its first mention in the election act of a Cistercian monk being appointed bishop of Albarracín. According to the historian César Tomás Laguía, the clarity of this document leaves no place for doubts.
It is not known until when monks lived there, or why it was demolished, but in 14th century the “monastery terrain” was referred to as private property. Later documents use the toponym of the monastery, but always as a reference to the terrain, not to the building itself.
Little documentation exists on la Casa Grande de Albarracín. The oldest reference that could be traced is a document giving evidence of Don Antonio Baltasar Sánchez Monterde having it registered on July 1686. It is not known whether he registered newly built house or an existing house. In the same document the family coat of arms is described:
“In the left part is a burning hill with an iris on a blue field. In the right part is a flying eagle on a silver background. Seven gold blocks are put on as decoration and the text SPES MEA IN DOMINO, meaning “My hope (is) in the Lord”. A helmet appears on top of the coat of arms.”
This corresponds with the coat of arms above the main entrance of la Casa Grande. It is also found on the façade of one of the most emblematic houses in the old centre of Albarracín: la Casa de los Monterde, next to la Casa de la Enseñanza in the street that leads from the Plaza Mayor to the cathedral. It is likely that this house used to be the dwelling house of the family, while la Casa Grande, with a smaller and less elaborated coat of arms, used to be the country house.
The Sánchez Monterde family lived in Albarracín from the Middle Ages until the end of the 18th century. Their ancestors came from France and were related to the Royal House of France. It is for this reason that they were allowed to bear the iris in their scutcheon. Around 1180 they formed part of the retinue of Don Rodrigo de Azagra during the recapture of Albarracín. Before that time they lived in the Navarra kingdom.
Albarracín, up till then an Islamic state (Reino de Taifa) is handed over to Don Pedro Ruiz de Azagra by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Ajoāh ibn Sano’d ibn Mardāniš, also known at the times by the Christians as “el rey Lobo” – King Wolf in exchange for services rendered.
According to the legend of Los amantes de Teruel Don Pedro de Azagra, son of Don Rodrigo, marries Isabel de Segura which makes him one of the main characters of the legend. The Sánchez Monterde family was one of the oldest and most powerful families of the region and for centuries held high administrative and judicial positions in Albarracín.
Of old, the members of this family were also cattle breeders, owners and leaseholders of grounds in Albarracín and other municipalities in the Sierra de Albarracín. This centuries-old tradition of cattle farming gives rise to the idea that la Casa Grande was one of the properties that Don Antonio Baltasar Sánchez Monterde and his descendants used for agricultural purposes.
Around 1737 Don Francisco Sánchez Monterde y Villanoba, a grandson of Don Antonio Baltasar Sánchez Monterde, sold the properties to the Navarro de Arzuriaga family (one of the other important families of Albarracín), so that la Casa Grande passed on to this family.
In the following centuries agriculture remains the Casa Grande’s main usage function. In 1898 Manuel Navarro Navarro, descendant of the Navarro de Arzuriaga family sold la Casa Grande to Vicente Barquero Royuela en Lucia Herrero Martin. Around the turn of the 20th century tenants from Setiles (Guadalajara) are living in the building.
pág. 248. La Comunidad de Albarracín en los siglos XVI y XVII (hacienda, elites y poder). Tesis presentada por Eloy Cutanda Pérez para la obtención del grado de doctor por la Universidad de Zaragoza, 2008
In 2008 the descendants of Vicente Barquero sold la Casa Grande to the current owners. One of them descends from the tenants from Setiles.
The restoration took about two years. During this process, the challenge was to combine the authentic elements of the structure with modern apartment requirements, in order for our clients to fully enjoy their stay in la Casa Grande de Albarracín…
HISTORICAL INVESTIGATION AND REDACTION
Luisa Fernanda Gómez Herranz
Luisa Puerto Gómez
La Cofradía de Caballeros de Santiago de Albarracín. Jaime Angulo y Sáinz de Varanda. ERAE (Emblemata Revista Aragonesa de Emblemática) XIII, 2007.
La geografía urbana de Albarracín. César Tomás Laguía. 1960.
La Comunidad de Albarracín en los siglos XVI y XVII (hacienda, elites y poder). Tesis presentada por Eloy Cutanda Pérez para la obtención del grado de doctor por la Universidad de Zaragoza, 2008.
El final de los fueros de Teruel y Albarracín en el siglo XVI. Jose Luis Castán Esteban. CECAL (Centro de Estudios de la Comunidad de Albarracín), 2009.
Apéndice documental de ganadería de Albarracín. CECAL.
Las juntas de brazos de 1684-86: Aragón y los servicios de armas de Carlos II. Abel Ajates Cónsul. Ius Fugit, 2007-2008.