Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de las Nieves. Villel
Built in masonry in the 18th century, with two baroque doorways on both sides of the naves, as it was built in sandstone it has a fragile appearance in its conservation.
It is a very large church, with three spacious naves and a high choir at the foot covered with a shell-shaped vault. This indicates that Villel had more than enough people to attend religious ceremonies.
The tower at the foot, as is usual in these areas, is located on the Gospel side, made up of three sections and topped by a coloured roof and capital. There is a profusion of chapels or altars in the side aisles and at the chancel.
It is possible that the parish church of Villel in its beginnings, I refer to the Carta Puebla of 1180 by King Alfonso II, was a small Visigothic church that survived the Muslim invasion and was later converted into a mosque, to later become a temple again.
It became the head of the Archpriesthood of the Encomienda de Villel.
In 1704 the church was demolished with the exception of the tower, the new construction was very ambitious and was going to cost large sums of money, paid for by the Templar Military Order and the abundant alms. It was a rectangle measuring 40 x 38 metres made of ashlar masonry, and a dwelling was added for the parish priest and the clerical assistants. The work was finished in 1738, but the old tower was kept because there was not enough money, which caused conflicts with the villelinos as it threatened ruin and was a danger.
The church has a very rich interior with nine chapels, all adorned with a profusion of altarpieces and sculptures, including the High Altarpiece, with some gifts of relics and donations from powerful parishioners and the Commanders of the Order. The silver urn with relics of St. Otilia, a gift from Fr. Juan Fernández de Heredia, a Saint who became Patron Saint of the Villa, thanks to this donation, stands out.
The mural altarpiece is from the 18th century and preserves modern images of San Roque, St. Barbara, the Immaculate Conception, Coronation of the Virgin, San Sebastian, San Antonio, the Virgin of Pilar, San Lorenzo, the Dolorosa, St. Otilia, the Virgin of Las Nieves, San José, the Virgin of Fatima, St. Lucia, the Sacred Heart and the Virgin of Carmen. All have their devotees, so there has been no omission.
The choir had an important organ, wrought ironwork and a baroque choir stalls worthy of mention. It was the burial place of the clergymen and priests who ministered here.
The tower was renovated in 1804 together with a new clock, which stopped working just one hundred years later.
Nowadays, its size is still striking when compared to the existing population of Villel, which has been greatly reduced by the migratory flow. Its ornamentation is very simple and it is not easy to glimpse its former splendour, lost during the war, a period in which it was used as a military hospital.