Southern Hills - Montilla

This village is world-famous for its wine, and endless fields of grape-vines punctuate a landscape of gentle rolling hills. Montilla dates back to Roman times although it was not considered an important settlement during the subsequent period of Moorish rule. After the Christian re-conquest in 1492, Montilla passed into the hands of the lords of Aguilar who deemed it the centre of their domain. The town subsequently developed into one of the most important garrison towns in the area. Later, in the 18th century, Montilla became an increasingly important religious and cultural centre with the construction of various impressive palaces, convents and churches.

For many people, however, Montilla is best known for its dry white wine which is made using the same solera method as sherry. The very sweet Pedro Ximenez grapes are used for the wine so, consequently, it does not need fortifying. This wine is known as Montilla in Spain and Amontillado elsewhere. See below for details on visiting the bodgas. For more information about Andalucían Wine, click here.

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Castle

The castle ruins date back to Fernandez de Cordobas in the fifteenth century. The original fortress consisted of a wall flanked by towers that encompassed a huge area. Within this there was a palace with magnificent halls and a courtyard large enough to hold 400 horses. The family's disloyalty to the Catholic King led to the castle's destruction in 1508: However in 1722, a large granary was built; the remains of which may still be seen located between the walls and towers.

Convent of Santa Clara

This convent dates back to 1512 and stands today as one of the town's most prominent buildings. In front of the church there is a small garden where, through a revolving hatch, you can still buy the traditional biscuits made by the nuns without actually seeing them face-to-face. The convent façade is a combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Mudejar architectural styles, while the church has a single nave with a distinctive and ornate mudejar ceiling.

Casa de La Inca

This mansion is constructed out of distinctive Ashlar stone with a coat of arms over the door. The Peruvian writer, Garcilaso de la Vega lived here from 1561 to 1591. He was born Cuzco in 1539 to a Spanish nobleman and Inca princess and wrote extensively about the origins of the Incas. The courtyard and rooms reflect an important historical period and the building now houses the Biblioteca Americanista.

Church of Santiago

The largest church was built at the beginning of the 16th century. There is an interesting Baroque door at the entrance and an imposing tower which dates back to 1789. Today, the church houses sculptures by San Francisco Solano and San Pedro de Alcantara by Pedro de Mena.

History Museum

This fascinating museum located in the Casa de la Cultura includes many objects dating from Palaeolithic to modern times. Opening hours are Sundays and holidays 10.30am-1.30pm and weekdays by appointment only. Tel 957 654 194.

Wine Cellars

There are extensive wine cellars in the town. The Montilla wine is first fermented in stainless steel vats then matured further in upright tinajas or earthenware vessels, before being placed in traditional wooden barrels.

Bodegas Alvear (tel: 957 650 100) and Bodegas Perez Barquero Tel 957 650 500 visitors are welcome on weekdays by prior appointment.

Festivals

A religious play is held in the village square on Maundey Thursday during Holy Week.
July 9-14 Fiesta of the Patron Saint, San Francisco Solano.
Early September. Harvest Festival which includes the blessing of the first wine.

Sights to See

Olive Oil Mills
There are several olive oil mills located in and around the town which are open to the public and where you can also buy wonderful olive oil straight from the press.

Church of Santa Maria La Mayor
An impressive church located in the centre of the town.

Plaza de la Constitution

Casa del Monte
A magnificent mansion with its own arcade

The Castle