OLULA DE CASTRO
by Saskia Mier
Olula de Castro is a small and tranquil village found 54km from Almería city, at an altitude of more than 1000m. The town is a perfect destination for those who wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and has about 190 inhabitants.
The origins of Olula de Castro date to prehistoric times, evidenced by some rock engravings found at Huerto del Moro or de los Rodeos. Between the seventh and eighth centuries, Romanized and Christian Berbers arrived from Africa, known as Yarawás, under the command of Queen La Kahima, who settled in the Sierra de los Filabres. Both Olula de Castro and Castro de Filabres could have developed as communities from the camps of the African Queen. More>
THINGS TO SEE
A family oil mill that began its activity around 1920 and was in operation until 1970. The mill belonged to Maria Martinez and Isabel Martinez. Many residents of the municipality used the mill to press their locally grown olives to make their annual supply of oil. There are two other oil mills in Olula de Castro, but they are no longer operational and are now in ruins.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Patrocinio
Ecclesiastically, Olula belonged to the Castro parish from 1505 to 1782, at which point it was granted its own parish, taking the Virgen de Patrocinio as the Patron Saint. The ceiling of the parish church is formed of wooden beams, however, its central dome is made of stone. Both are covered by a roof of Arabic tile, with two slopes on the nave and four slopes on the dome. The image of the patron was saved from its destruction during the Civil War by the residents of the village, specifically by Juan de Dios Gil Mesas. Some say that the Holy Christ was also saved, hidden in the loft of a local house and that, after being restored, they changed it for a new one, leaving it in Olula and taking the old one to Santiago de Compostela. Located in Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
As in many other towns of the Sierra de Filabres, the main artisan work is esparto, the products of which feature heavily in the homes of Olula de Castro. Some shepherds produce utensils for personal use and as a leisure activity. Some neighbours, like Manuel Escoriza Aranda and Juan Cruz Fernandez, continue to practice this trade. Crochet, bobbin and rug making are also popular handicrafts in the village.
Turrón de Almendra
The almond nougat made in Olula de Castro is prepared in the chimneys of the houses in the traditional artisan way, with locally grown almonds and honey. Another key feature is that the nougat has no preservatives. Its production requires great effort, since the mixture is difficult to stir due to its hardness, produced by the exterior cold. It is distributed in slabs of 1kg or ½kg. Formerly, the turrón was made to resist situations in which the town was cut off, usually in the event of heavy snowfall. When well preserved, it can last months and has a very high energetic value for such winter conditions.
Olula de Castro offers some interesting local dishes worth trying such as arrocillo (although the name translates as ‘rice’, this dish features no rice and is a stew made of beans, fennel and pork) and correas (a true winter stew, made with green beans and rice, loaded with various parts of the pig; definitely not for those with high cholesterol). Sweet treats include tortas de alfajor (almond cake).
Popular festivals in Olula de Castro are Semana Santa, Fiestas en Honor a la Virgen de Patrocinio and Moros y Cristianos. More>
The tourist office is located in the town hall of Olula de Castro. More>