by Saskia Mier
Belmez is a small whitewashed village with around 3000 inhabitants. Its mountaintop castle is the village's centrepiece, and affords spectacular views of the surrounding Sierra Morena.
The earliest archaeological remains found in Belmez date to the final years of the Neolithic era, found onsite at Sierra Palacios. There is also evidence of former Roman presence, such as tombstones and copper and iron mines. A habitat found south of the village, El Hoyo, indicates that the area was once occupied by Visigoth settlements.
Belmez was officially formed surrounding the castle after the Reconquest. Following the conquest of Córdoba in 1236, some residents of Fuente Obejuna were attracted to these lands by their wealth. Until the year 1458, it was subject to the jurisdiction of the city of Córdoba, later passing into the hands of the Master of Calatrava, Don Pedro Téllez.
An inhabitant of Almadén discovered the carboniferous (or "coal-bearing") possibilities that characterize the natural landscape surrounding Belmez, causing a wave of immigration at the beginning of the twentieth century.
THINGS TO SEE
Castillo de Belmez
The castle of Belmez, like others that populate the north of the province of Córdoba, originally guarded the old road of Los Pedroches. The fortress is reached by a steep and zigzagging staircase that starts on Calle Rafael Canalejo Cantero. There are landings at various intervals which allow you to catch your breath, and from which you can see the quarry which almost ruined this enclave in the nineteenth century. The castle's interior now reveals the poorly planned reconstruction work undertaken in 2001, which failed to consider the historical sensitivity of the building. However, its balconies afford wonderful views, including Sierra Palacios, the Sierra Boyera marsh and an artificial lake originating in a mining exploitation.
Escuela Universitaria Politécnica de Belmez
The Polytechnic University School of Belmez (EUPB) is the only campus of the University of Córdoba located outside the capital, 70 km from Córdoba. It was founded in 1924 under the name of the Mineworkers' Practical School (in 1930 it would be renamed the Technical School) and until 1973 it depended on the University of Seville. In that year it became part of the newly founded University of Córdoba. In 1977 the school moved to its current location and the building that formerly housed it became the Ambulatory of Belmez. Currently, the Degree in Civil Engineering and the Degree of Energy and Mining Resources are studied here. The university is located on Avenida de la Universidad.
Museo Histórico de Belmez y del Territorio Minero
The museum is divided into four principal thematic areas; Archaeology, Historical Mining, Uses and Customs of the Guadiato Basin, and the Territory Museum. Although the facilities were inaugurated on May 14, 1998, the registration of the centre in the Junta de Andalucía's formal Registry of Museums took place on March 9, 1999. In addition to its exhibitions, the museum also organizes tour routes through Belmez, highlighting dolmens (megalithic tombs), charcoal pits and Roman remains. The museum can be found on Calle Córdoba.
Opening Times: Tuesday-Thursday, 09:00-14:00hrs. Friday-Sunday, 09:00-14:00hrs and 19:00-21:00hrs.
Tel: 957 58 05 01
Plaza de Toros
The village's bullring was inaugurated on September 8, 1914 and is a third category monument with seating for approximately 6,600 visitors.
Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Castillo
This small chapel is thought by some to be the first Christian temple erected in the town after the Reconquest. The simple construction is completed by the Santero House, a garden area and warehouse, and is located on Calle Santa Maria.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Anunciación
This chapel was built in the thirteenth century. The barbarity displayed during Civil War of 1936 left its mark on the building; its altarpiece was completely destroyed but later rebuilt in 1943. Some paintings by Rafael Díaz Perno, along with others by various artists, were also introduced, including images produced by Antonio Castillo Lastrucci. The chapel is situated on Calle Pilar.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Ermita de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios
The chapel is believed to have been built in 1654, corresponding with the date on which the faith of the Virgin was introduced by the Trinitarian Fathers. The building has undergone several works throughout its history, including a complete restoration in 1899. During the Civil War, it was destroyed but gradually rebuilt in subsequent years. In 1948 the City Council built the walls that surround the chapel. The site is located next to the public swimming pool, north of Belmez, on the CO-440.
Dolmen Casa de Don Pedro
Among the twelve dolmens located in the municipality of Belmez, the Dolmen Casas De Don Pedro is the most significant; it is the only one that has been fully excavated (in 1986), and was declared B.I.C. (Bien de Interés Cultural) in 1996. It remains open to the public today, and consists of a megalithic monument with a trapezoidal chamber of approximately 2.15m in length by 1.35m in width at its widest point. The archaeological material found during the excavation was rather scarce and included copper, flint and stone objects as well as some ceramics. The dolmen can be found a few kilometres south of Belmez, exiting the town via a track past the bullring.
Embalse de Sierra Boyera
The reservoir was constructed between 1969 and 1974, and has a total surface area of 551,087 hectares. It currently serves four purposes; water supply, a nautical club offering water sports, general recreation and leisure, and finally hosting a multitude of aquatic species and birds. The reservoir's construction began in 1983, slightly west of Belmez.
The landscape surrounding Belmez offers some great possibilities for hiking enthusiasts. Some of the most popular routes include; Ruta Peñaladrones, Ruta Sierra Palacio, Ruta Vía Verde de la Maquinilla and Ruta Cámaras Altas.
When visiting Belmez, try some of their local dishes, including pernil de cordero (lamb roasted with garlic and coñac), habichuelas con perdiz (beans and partridge) and arroz con liebre (rice with wild hare). For dessert, the leche frita (fried milk) and torrijas (eggy bread) are a must.
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Día de los Tomillos
Celebrated the 19 January.
Festividad de La Patrona Virgen de la Candelaria
Celebrated the 2 February.
Celebrated in February.
Holy Week (dates vary each year).
Quema de Judas
Celebrated on Easter Saturday.
Celebrated the 15 May.
Verbena de San Antonio
Celebrated the 13 June.
Verbena en Honor de la Virgen del Carmen
Celebrated the 16 July.
Verbena de la Virgen del Castillo
Celebrated the first weekend of August.
Feria y Fiestas en Honor de la Patrona Nuestra Señora de los Remedios
Celebrated the 7-11 September.
Celebrated the 4 December.