A Look into the Incredible Heritage of the House of Herrera

Julio M. Herrera Velutini is a proud member of the House of Herrera, a part of the Spanish nobility that rose to prominence in the 14th century. This family includes a long line of lords, landowners, bankers, and merchants who operated in Spain, Germany, and England, as well as the Canaries and various parts of Latin America.

The Herreras have maintained a strong political influence and developed several traditions that continue to this day. Historians have noticed the family’s impact on finance, commerce, and even fashion across three continents with a legacy that continues to grow. Through major organizations like Hacienda La Vega and Banco Caracas, the family’s greatest impact has been on the banking and real estate industries of Latin America.

Some of the Key Figures in the House of Herrera

The House of Herrera is traced back to Hernan de Herrera, the Lord of Ampudia I. From him, Pedro Garcia de Herrera y Rojas made history by attaining the position of Marshal of Castile. In the early 15th century, Diego Garcia de Herrera y Ayala again elevated the name during the conquest of the Canary Islands and earned himself the nickname “King of the Canaries” as well as recognition from the crown of Seville in Spain. His descendant, Agustin de Herrera y Rojas Ayala, was the first member of the family to earn the title Count of Lanzarote, which King Philip II created for him in 1548. Later, his position was elevated to Marquis in recognition of his service to the kingdom. The king commissioned him to fight for the Spanish crown in Latin America. Agustin became a trusted member of the royal council and his work helped establish the Herreras as one of the most influential families in South America and the Caribbean.

The son of Agustin was Juan Sarmiento de Herrera y Fernandez Pachego. He was the first member of the Herrera family to be born in Latin America and then live there for his entire life. His father bequeathed him the lands and haciendas La Vega and Montalban, and he dedicated his life to caring for these assets. He was the father of the Bolivar y Palacios family.

Another notable member of the House of Herrera is Jose de Herrera Manrique de Lara of Havana, Cuba, who married Carolina Uslar, granddaughter of Johan von Uslar, a German general who played a key role in the fight for Latin American independence.

After him came Jose Herrera von Uslar Gleichen, Marquis of Lanzarote and Count of Palomar. A lawyer who was educated in Venezuela and the United States, he founded the National Action Movement in 1936. This organization fought against the adoption of Marxist-Leninist ideologies in Venezuela. Jose Herrera von Uslar Gleichen went on to make history again in 1950 when he promoted a movement to adopt orphans following World War II. While serving as ambassador to Sweden, he helped 1,000 young people orphaned by the war move from Switzerland to Venezuela. Once in Venezuela, the children lived in Catia La Mar and were adopted by Venezuelan families.

The Extensive Legacy of the House of Herrera

The House of Herrera has several estates across the world that stand as a testament to the family’s achievement. One of the first family properties in Latin America was Hacienda La Vega, which is now a historical monument in Caracas. Jorge Uslar acquired the Hacienda in 1899 following an agreement with Banco de Caracas. When he received it, he undertook massive reconstruction projects and helped make the property even more stunning with new embellishments. Over time, the Hacienda became a cultural center and a key meeting point for social life. The space remains open to the public under the care of the Herrera von Uslar family.

Another major estate for the family is the Castillo St. Barbara in Teguise, which is in the Canary Islands. This castle is the oldest fortification on the island of Lanzarote and was meant to protect Teguise, the historic capital of the area. The fortification sits on Mount Guanapay, which allows it to overlook the town. Don Sancho de Herrera built the castle in the 16th century under orders from King Felipe II as a means of protecting inhabitants from pirates and privateers. At that time, Teguise served as the seat of the Spanish administration of the Canary Islands in addition to the capital of Lanzarote.

In the 15th century, the major-general of Castile Pedro Garcia Herrera built the Castle of Ampudia in Palencia, Spain. This castle is still a major estate within the Herrera family. The gothic noble fortress has four square turrets with a symmetrical front while the building itself is a trapezoid. Today, the fortress houses antiques and pieces of art. The House of Herrera also owns the Castle of Gleichen in Germany. This castle is part of the Drei Gleichen, along with Muhlburg and Wachsenburg Castles.

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