|The church of Santa Maria Magdalena and the Molino de Sire.|
by Chris Chaplow
|The church of Santa Maria Magdalena.|
The two main landmarks, the church of Santa María Magdalena and the Molino de Siré, are situated next to each other, in the northern part of the village, though they're tricky to find since they aren't well signposted.
The church of Santa María Magdalena (Calle Magdalena) is striking with is recently restored and dominating bell tower between a double main façade, each with its own grand entrance door. It is an example of 17th-century Baroque architecture, with three naves and a notable Sacrarium, Baptismal chapel, high altar and statue of St Andrew. The columns are red marble from local quarries. There are 12th-century Baroque paintings influenced by Alfonso Cano of the Seville School. (Location Map: 36.92282, -5.54698)
|A hand painted ceramic image of Puerto Serrano, Puerto Serrano.|
The Molino de Siré, an old olive oil mill, has a clocktower similar to the church's, but in urgent need of repair and home to storks. This Baroque and Neo-Classical building was originally a Carmelite convent. Carmelite is a Roman Catholic religious order founded, probably in the 12th century, on Mount Carmel in Israel, hence its name. In 1835 a decree was passed confiscating monastic lands. Over the entrance arch is the date 1856, which is the year when the building was turned into an olive oil mill. Now privately owned, it is recognized as being of cultural importance by the Junta de Andalucia. (Location Map: 36.92299, -5.54693)
|The Plaza of Diamantino Garcia .|
Next to the church is Plaza Diamantino García, a quiet spot which features a ceramic-tiled plaque with quotations from the extraordinary priest, much-loved late (1943 - 1995) Andalucian trade-union and human rights activist, known affectionately as "el cura de los pobres" (the priest of the poor). One side reads "Andaluces, levantaos! Pedid tierra y libertad!" (Andalucians, stand up! Demand land and freedom!) - a line from the Andalucian anthem. (Location Map: 36.92244, -5.54759)
|Hermitage Church Puerto Serrano.|
Ermita El Almendral To the south of the town a road leads up through olive and almond groves to the Ermita Santa Maria Magdalena, set into the hillside. During the Wars of Independence in the early 19th century, the French attacked Puerto Serrano and burned the church, but the villagers managed to hide the Virgin in a cave on the hill. There she remained for many years until she was found by a shepherd. On occasions of drought or illness, the virgin is returned to the hillside to bless the village. The inaugural romeria took place in 1967 and the Ermita was built at the cave entrance in 1972. Since then, on the nearest Sunday to 22 July, the Virgin is brought from her church to the Ermita. The size of the levelled area of ground between the road and the Ermita is testament to the popularity of the Romeria. This is also an excellent viewpoint over the village, river Guadalete and rolling countryside. (Location Map: 36.92363, -5.52288)
|View of Puerto Serrano from the Ermita El Almendral.|
Yacimiento Arqueologico de Fuente de Ramos can be visited on the road up to the Ermita El Almendral - it has an ample car park nearby, higher up the road. The archaeological site is well-known as a large prehistoric, late-Roman necropolis and Moorish necropolis, which extends from the Mesita del Almendral to below the Fuente de Ramos. It is named for the abundance of aquiferos (subterranean streams) and springs.
The prehistoric underground necropolis dates from the Bronze Age (1,900 - 1,600 BC) and is an important site. Constructed as a circular chamber from a curved base, semi-domed walls and a flat roof, with side niches and an entrance passage, it was used as a communal grave. In the vicinity you can see other structures, used for rituals and burial ceremonies. These feature a series of engravings of geometric figures and representations of humans and animals such as horses and fish, typical of that era's hunter-gather art.
There is also an open-air cave shrine from about the time of Christ.
In the Fuente de Ramos area they have excavated 35 cave tombs belonging to a Moorish settlement located on the mesita (tabletop of the hill). The bodies were buried lying down on the right side, with the head pointing south, and the face towards the east - in the direction of Mecca.
The site is currently fenced off and a visitors' centre is under construction. Check for opening hours (the Ayuntamiento is on 956 127 042). (Location Map: 36.91868, -5.52671)
|The colours of the flag of Andalucia in Puerto Serrano.|