Seville Province - Ecija

ÉCIJA

by Saskia Mier

Écija is known as "la sartén de Andalucía" (the frying-pan of Andalusia) which is no exaggeration; therefore it is advised to not visit the town in the middle of summer. It once registered an alarming 52 degrees centigrade on the thermometer. It has about 40, 200 inhabitants.

HISTORY

The first archaeological evidence of Écija allows us to assume the original settlement of Astigi was in the present Cerro de San Gil or Alcazar, during the Tartessic era. Around the reign of Augustus, the settlement of Colonia Augusta Firma Astigi was founded as the capital of one of the four "legal convents" of the Roman province of Bética and one of the most important cities of Hispania.

Its strategic position on the Via Augusta and along the river, allowed for the production and long-distance export of olive oil throughout the Roman Empire. Since then it has been one of the main cities of present-day Andalusia.

During the period of Al-Andalus the name evolved to Istiya or Astiya, and was considered as a rich city due to the ease of irrigation provided by the Genil River. Being a Hispanic-Visigoth city, it was of vital importance when the first Moorish troops landed by Lieutenant Tarik. After the Battle of Guadalete, the Moors were defeated and later went on to taking Cordoba and Toledo.

The Castilian conquest was carried out by Fernando III in 1240. After the conquest, numerous and illustrious Castilian families settled in Écija. The fertility of the region and its new frontier position with the Kingdom of Granada resulted in vast economic and social development.

Enrique III granted his own charter in 1402. The first guilds were organized from the sixteenth century and reached their maximum splendour in the eighteenth century. The importance of breeding purebred Spanish, Anglo-Arab and Hispano-Arabian horses in the region of Écija also grew, an activity still carried out today. The city was declared Historic-Artistic Set in the year 1966.

THINGS TO SEE

Parroquia de Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción
The church was built by Pedro Fernández Gragera, who at the time of the Re-conquest of the town was a Knight of King Fernando III. The construction was completed in 1262. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it underwent major renovations, being finally demolished in 1758 to be rebuilt in a newer style. Located in Plaza Santa María.

Iglesia de Santa Bárbara
The Neoclassic was the first building of this style to be built in Andalusia upon an ancient Moorish mosque. It was designed by architect, Ignacio Tomás, in 1790 and the work was completed in 1855. Located in Plaza de España.

Iglesia de San Francisco
The construction of the church was completed in 1473. From its beginnings until the second half of the twentieth century it was governed by congregations of monks and friars as the Convent of San Antonio de Padua. Initially the convent had all the characteristic elements of this type of building, however some have disappeared. Located in Plaza de España.

Iglesia del Hospital de la Concepción
The church was founded in 1592, known as the Hospital de la Concepción (Vulgo Hospitalito) and is an example of the sixteenth century architecture of this town. Located on Calle del Conde.

Convents
Écija is home to several convents dating from the sixteenth century through to the eighteenth century, including Convento de Santa Florentina, Convento de la Merced, Convento de las Concepcionistas Franciscanas, Convento de las Filipenses, Convento de las Hermanas de la Cruz, Convento de las Teresas and Real Convento de San Inés.

Palaces
Amongst its rich civil architecture are several beautifully decorated palaces built between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, many with Baroque paintings and features. These include Palacio de Justicia, Palacio de los Palma, Palacio de los Pareja (municipal library), Palacio de Santaella, Palacio de Benamejí, Palacio de Peñaflor, Palacio de los Granados, Palacio de Prado Castellano, Palacio de Valdehermoso and Palacio de Alcántara.

Museo Histórico Municipal
The museum has a fine collection of artefacts such as Roman mosaics, sculptures and inscriptions, in a serene setting of palms and patios. Located within Palacio de Benamejí.

Opening Times:
1st October-31 May, Tuesday-Friday, 10:00-13:30hrs and 16:30-18:30hrs.
1st October-31 May, Saturday, 10:00-14:00hrs and 17:30-20:00hrs.
1st October-31 May, Sunday, 10:00-15:00hrs.
1st June-30th September, Tuesday-Friday, 10:00-14:30hrs and 16:30-18:30hrs.
1st June-30th September, Saturday, 10:00-14:00hrs and 20:00-22:00hrs.
1st June-30th September, Sunday, 10:00-15:00hrs.
Price: Free Entrance.
Tel: 955 90 29 19

Casa Museo Hermandad de San Gil
The museum holds a permanent exhibition of the Brotherhood of San Gil. Located on Calle San Marcos.

Opening Times:
Monday, Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00-13:00hrs and 17:00-20:00hrs.
Price: 1.50 euro
Tel: 955 42 80 77

Museo Casa Palacio de Palma
The manor house is a museum within itself with furniture and original decoration of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Located on Calle Espíritu Santo.

Opening Times: Monday-Sunday, 10:00-14:00hrs.
Tel: 954 61 17 51

Museo de Arte Sacro
The museum houses a large collection of goldsmiths from the eighteenth century. It emphasizes a Nambon Art Lectern "Shokendai" made in Japan during the Momoyama period in 1573. Located in Plaza Nuestra Señora del Valle.

Opening Times:
Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00hrs and 16:00-19:30hrs.
Saturday, 09:00-13:00hrs and 17:00-19:30hrs.
Sunday, 10:00-13:00hrs and 18:00-20:00hrs.
Price: Free Entrance
Tel: 954 83 06 13

Museo de Santa María
The museum is installed in the courtyard of the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Asunción and shows a collection of prehistoric archaeological remains, Roman and Arab. One of the most valuable pieces is the marble head of Germanicus.

Opening Times:
Monday- Saturday, 09:30-13:30hrs and 17:30-20:30hrs.
Sunday, 09:30-13:30hrs.
Price: Free Entrance.
Tel: 954 83 04 30.

Plaza de Abastos
The covered market was built in 1844 to centralise trade of local goods. Located on Calle Compañía.

Teatro San Juan
The theatre was built during the eighteenth century and rebuilt after a fire in 1937. It was later redesigned in 1939 with an art deco style. Located on Calle Comedias.

TOURS

Écija offers a variety of tours designed to teach visitors about the history and culture of the town. The tours are held every weekend throughout the year. The tours are:

Ruta Monumental - every Saturday.

Ruta Arqueológica - first Sunday of every month.

Ruta de las Leyendas - second Sunday of every month.

Ruta de los Conventos - third Sunda of every month.

Ruta Barroca - fourth Sunday of every month.

The tours leave from the Oficina de Turismo de Écija (tourism office).

Must reserve prior to the date of the tour.
Times: 11.00-13.30hrs.
Price: 10 euro per person. 
Tel: 955 90 29 33.

EQUESTRIAN

It was in Écija where the breeding of the pure bred Spanish horse really took off and many studs were set up in the area for this activity, such as Yeguada Cárdenas, one of the oldest studs with the most number of prized horses since the 1960s.

The town is also home to the Yeguada Militar, being the military stud dedicated to breeding not only pure bred Spanish horses but also Anglo-Arabians, Hispano-Arabians and pure bred donkeys. There responsibility has always been to maintain the standard of the pure breeds and create a guideline for others to follow.

The Centro de Interpretación Visual Ecuestre (Visual Equestrian Interpretation Centre) is located in the Palacio de Benamejí Stables that date from the eighteenth century. It is a magnificent spectacle of lights and sounds of 270 degrees on the horse world in Écija. Located on Calle Elvira.

Opening Times: Monday-Sunday, 10:00-14:00hrs.
Tel: 955 90 29 33.

WHERE TO STAY

Places to stay include the Pension Santa Cruz, Calle Romero Gordillo 8 (95 483 0222 and Hotel Sol Pirula, Calle Miguel de Cervantes 50 (95 483 0300) while restaurants and bars are plentiful, particularly around the Plaza Mayor. There are daily buses to and from Seville and Córdoba.

GASTRONOMY

 

The gastronomy in Écija is based entirely on natural ingredients. There is a great variety of recipes imported throughout its history as well as the great diversity and interaction of the different cultures existing in Écija. Dishes include sopa de gato (tomato and pepper soup), gazpacho and flamenquines (stuffed with hardboiled egg and ham). Sweet treats include the well-known yemas El Ecijano (made with egg yolk), tortas de aceite (olive oil cakes), bollos del Conde, mediasnoches, tortas de nieto and martinitos. We cannot forget the mollete, a round bread muffin usually eaten for breakfast.

FESTIVALS

Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.

Festividad de San Pablo
Celebrated the 25 January.

Carnaval
Celebrated in February.

Semana Santa
Holy Week.

Romería de San Isidoro del Campo
Celebrated the first weekend of May.

Festividad Virgen del Valle
Celebrated the 8 September.

Feria
Celebrated the last two weeks of September.

NEXT PLACES

The next villages to Écija are La Luisiana, Osuna, Palma del Río and La Carlota.


Hover the cursor over Écija to see bigger map and click to go to the maps page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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