Cadiz Province - San José del Valle

The village of San José del Valle lies to the east of the main road linking Paterna de Rivera and Arcos de la Frontera, not far from the large Guadalacatín reservoir. It is surrounded by lush undulating countryside which rises gently to the east into the foothills of the Sierra de Cádiz.

Remains have been found to suggest that this area was settled by Tartessians and Phoenicians, but the history of the village only really begins when the Moors settled here. Evidence exists that they constructed a defensive fortress, although little remains to this day. It was possibly sited over the ruins of a Roman town however excavations have not as yet proved this. About five kilometres away the Moors built another fortress, now known as the Castillo de Gigonza, which is well worth a visit. This solidly square construction of two storeys, officially recognised as a Site of Cultural Interest, has been preserved and is now in private hands and partly used as a dwelling. Close by are ruins of the Baños de Aguas Sulfurosas, sulphur baths which were popular until the beginning of the 20th century.

San José del Valle was conquered by the Christians at the beginning of the 14th century, but it was not until the end of the 16th century that half-hearted attempts were made to repopulate the village. Its importance increased though when a Carmelite Convent was built at the end of the 17th century on the slopes of Monte de la Cruz.

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The village celebrates the day of its patron saint, San José, on 19th March with processions around the streets. It also has another patron saint, Santa María Auxiliadora, whose day is commemorated on 24th May, usually coinciding with the annual fair.

In common with most other inland villages, local gastronomy focuses on the produce of the land, with typical recipes such as gazpacho. Sopa de ajo, or garlic soup is also popular. Game also features high on the menu, with a variety of mouth-watering stews of venison, wild boar, partridge, rabbit or pigeon.

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