SANTA FE DE MONDÚJAR
by Saskia Mier
Santa Fe de Mondújar has a wealth of archaeological highlights, including the well-known Los Millares, a site of Copper Age remains. The town has about 460 inhabitants.
The area has been home to numerous settlements since prehistoric times due to its location next to fertile valleys and its strategic position. Around 3300 BC, in the period of the Copper Age, the prehistoric settlement of Los Millares was established. It is a settlement of circular houses fortified with a wall and a huge necropolis of collective tombs. The Romans built a watchtower to guard the road that went from Guadix to Urci (Pechina). During the Al-Andalus period, Idrisi, a twelfth-century Geographer, wrote that the Castle of Mondújar was on a hill near the river, perhaps being the ancient Roman fortress that the Arabs also used. With the Christian conquest, Santa Fe was founded, replacing the Mondújar and Huéchar farmhouses as the population centre.
Before the War of the Alpujarras (1568-1570), Santa Fe, Mondújar and Huéchar had 176 Moors. After the War and subsequent expulsion of the Moorish population, the repopulation was carried out in 1573 with 42 settlers from Jaén, Cádiz, Levante, Navarra and Lugo, as well as one Italian. A slow demographic recovery took place right up until the middle of the eighteenth century.
The second half of the nineteenth century brought with it the prosperity of the Ohanes grape cultivation and the labour-generating mines of Gádor. Further fed by the introduction of the railways to this area, an economic boom was established that lasted until the first decade of the twentieth century. In 1911, the first electric train in Spain was inaugurated, on an experimental basis, between Santa Fe and Gérgal. Today, its economic activity focuses on agriculture, with olive and fruit trees, particularly orange, having replaced the Ohanes grape.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
A Mudejar-style temple, built in the mid sixteenth century, consisting of three naves with a basilica plan, with a main chapel differentiated from the central nave by an arch and a high choir at its feet. In 1577, carpenter Juan Fernández and mason Juan Alonso Jiménez both worked here. It once had an altarpiece dating from 1558 which, unfortunately, has disappeared. In 1675, it was equipped with a Mudejar roof in its central nave, with armature and simple ornamental details. In the eighteenth century, the lateral naves communicated with the central nave by arches, the portal through which they are accessed, and the bell tower were both expanded. Its last restoration was in 1995. Located on Calle La Rosa. (Location)
The Nazarí Tower of Santa Fe de Mondújar dates to somewhere between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is a fortress tower or watchtower built for surveillance of the territory and defense from enemy attacks. In 2005, it was restored and awarded the Premio Arco de Arquitectura, becoming a permanent museum and the starting point for numerous travelling exhibitions in different municipalities in the province of Almería. It was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest and in 1993 the Junta de Andalucía granted special recognition to the castles of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia. Located on Calle la Torre.(Location)
Puente de Hierro de Eiffel
The bridge was built in 1893 as part of the Linares-Baeza-Almería Line, and next to the station to connect Almería with the rest of Spain. It was designed in the studios of the engineer Eiffel, although some sources cite that it was the direct work of Eiffel rather than his pupils. The latest advances in wrought iron were used in its production, together with classic constructions such as quarry stone, reflected in its ten pilasters. It has a maximum height between piles that varies between 31 and 60 meters and a length of approximately 420 meters. The curved termination of the bridge is curious, especially unusual for a structure of its age. On June 1, 1911, this bridge was one of the protagonists of the inauguration of the first electric traction train in Spain by the engineer Enrique Paniagua Porras, who was born in nearby Alboloduy. To provide electric power to the road, a small power station was built under the bridge, initially using coal and later fuel oil, until 1959. Towards 1973, it was replaced by the new bridge, due to the wear suffered by the very high weight of the trains loaded with iron ore coming from the Alquife mines to Almería. Its last reform took place in 1998, adapting it to the passage of vehicles of all tonnage, widening the road and removing the iron railings. Since January 2004, it has been registered and protected as part of the Andalusian Historical Heritage.(Location)
In 1973, a new bridge was built, given the insecurity offered by the previous Puente de Hierro de Eiffel, due to the excessive weight of the trains loaded with ore. It was built according to more modern construction techniques, based on reinforced concrete.(Location)
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Ermita Virgen del Carmen
The chronology of this chapel is difficult to pin down, but it resembles the qubbas or Muslim marabouts in its structure. They are buildings with a square plan, open on one side and crowned by a dome. Taking advantage of these ruins, in the middle of the nineteenth century, it was rebuilt and given the image of the Virgen del Carmen to house. Located south east of the village, close to the Los Millares archaeological site. (Location)
Ermita de Mondújar
Erected at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the Mudejar-style chapel dedicated to San Antonio was most likely built on the remains of an old Muslim mosque, and of which only the masonry walls are preserved today along with the arch of the entrance door surmounted by a cornice. The roof was burned in 1936, and it is currently pending restoration. Located on the northeast bank of the Andarax River. (Location)
Ermita de la Cruz
The chapel has an open square plan with arches on its four sides, which supported the dome, today transformed into a hipped roof, and crowned with a cross. From it, you can enjoy excellent views over the orange groves and the Andarax River. Located opposite the town of Santa Fe de Mondújar, on the other side of Calle la Ramblilla, north of the town. (Location)
Yacimiento Arqueológico Los Millares
The archaeological site of Los Millares is a prehistoric settlement from the Copper Age (3200-2200 BC), comprising the ancient town and its necropolis with areas of 6 and 13 hectares respectively. Researchers and scientists demonstrated in 2020 that Los Millares was the first city established in the entire Iberian Peninsula more than 5,000 years ago. In addition, it is considered by scientists and historians as one of the most important settlements of this culture in Europe and in the world.(Location)
Ruta “Santa Fe-Galáchar”
This route is approximately 4km long with low-medium difficulty. There are no fountains during the route so it is advisable to take water with you.
Ruta “La Calderona-Mondújar”
This route also has a low-medium difficulty and is approximately 5km long. During the route, walkers will pass Cuevas de los Moros, Ermita de Mondújar and Torre de Don Alonso.
Dishes to try in Santa Fe de Mondújar are migas (fried breadcrumbs served with pork), choto al ajillo (lamb cooked in garlic) and conejo al ajillo (rabbit cooked in garlic). For something sweet try leche frita (fried custard), papaviejos (doughnuts), borrachillos (liqueur soaked buns), tortas de la candelaria (aniseed biscuits) and pan de higo (fig bread).
Popular festivals in Santa Fe de Mondújar are Día de Andalucía, Jueves Lardero and Fiestas Patronales en Honor a la Virgen del Rosario. More>