Castles of Valderas – Alcorcón, Spain - Atlas Obscura

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Castles of Valderas

A historic castle that served as a backdrop to part of an elaborate extraterrestrial hoax. 


These centenary castles in Alcorcón (a southern suburb of Madrid) were designed by the architect Luis Sainz de los Terreros: the main castle for the Marquis of Valderas and his family, and a smaller one for personnel. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), it housed General Franco during the offensives to capture Madrid. In 1967, it served as frame for an alleged UFO “sighting” in the context of the bizarre Ummo affair.

In 1917, José Sanchiz de Quesada, Marquis of Vasto and known in Alcorcón as Marquis of Valderas, ordered the construction of three palaces. They were built in Saxon style inspired, remotely, by the castle of Chambord in France. Beside it, there were built other two smaller; one of them was used like a particular chapel and the other one for the servants. Important figures of the early 20th century, such as King Alfonso XIII and the dictator Primo de Rivera, visited the castle to attend parties and hunts, due the proximity of the royal hunting ground of Venta de la Rubia.

At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the castles were abandoned. The nationalist leaders Franco and Mola were installed in the main castle, because of its proximity to the front lines of Madrid. Even in old photographs from the National Library can be observed militaries doing experiments with rockets to throw propaganda on the republican lines.

After the Marquis died, the buildings have taken on several uses, including a brief period where they were used as a school. Ultimately the castles were abandoned. But there was a strange case that returned to the present and even to the front pages of the newspapers, at least for a few days, to the ignored buildings.

On June 1, 1967, there was a strange sighting of a flying saucer with the Ummite symbol. In the 1960s, a series of communications allegedly from an extraterrestrial civilization on the planet Ummo gained a lot of attention. Those who believed the stories saw in this incident the confirmation of their beliefs. It wasn’t until the early 90s that José Luis Jordán Peña admitted that he had created the elaborate hoax. 

In the 80s, the castles were in a dilapidated condition. In 1988, the sixth Marquis of Valderas donated the castles to the Municipality of Alcorcón. The restoration project was carried out in the 90s the chapel (the smaller castle) was demolished given its deteriorated state. The main palace currently houses the Museum of Contemporary Art in Glass of Alcorcón

Know Before You Go

The MAVA (Museum of Art in Glass of Alcorcón) is situated into Los Castillos Park (Alcorcón), 16 km (10 miles) south of Madrid Tube station: José Vilumbrales Commuter train station: San José de Valderas

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