CASTRO DEL RÍO
by Saskia Mier
Castro del Río is a village famed for its olive oil and furniture made from olive wood, which has been exported as far as Japan. It has around 7800 inhabitants.
The first settlers of Castro del Río date back to the Iron Age. Neolithic and Iberian remains such as a fortified enclosure, Greek and Campania pottery, along with Roman and Visigoth inscriptions, all attest to varied ancient settlement in the area. During the twelfth century of Al-Idrisi, the Castle of Qasira or Qasruh was constructed on the road from Córdoba to Elvira. Developing its walled enclosures, the castle grew throughout the Islamic era to become a staple of the front line of Cordovan territory in the twelfth century.
The first evidence of Castro's municipal nucleus dates from 1236, when it was still in the hands of the Moors. In 1240 it was conquered by Fernando III by means of a pact, initiating the widespread repartimiento of land. In 1333, contrary to the mistaken testament of Francisco Fernández de Béthencourt which states 1331, King Muhammed IV of Granada besieged Castro del Río for three days with a powerful army, and the Moors attacked the village with such impetuosity that in a single day they managed to demolish six gateways along the enclosure's walls. However, the attack was stopped by Cordovan Knights from the Castle of Espejo.
With its in corporation in 1565 into the Marquesado de Priego, Castro del Río is subject to this seigniorial jurisdiction, a structure that has been maintained into the Modern Age. The town of Castro del Río suffered all the political and military swings that characterized the early history of the nineteenth century.
THINGS TO SEE
Parroquia de la Asunción
This church is located in the highest part of the town, dating back to the thirteenth century (about 1240). According to some sources, it is located on the site of a former mosque. Its interior is of Mudejar design, whilst the exterior has a stone doorway dating to around 1538. It has a great variety of sculptures, paintings and gold works, perhaps most notably an image of the Crucifix from 1700, the choir stalls of 1717 and a small altar of the Virgen del Rosario from around 1600. This vibrant collection is located on Plaza de la Iglesia.
Iglesia San Asciclo
This church dates to the eighteenth century. The interior houses well-preserved sculptures in carved polychrome wood, and oil paintings, all dating from the same century. Located on Calle Pósito.
Convento de Scala Coeli
The only remains of the Convent of Santo Domingo de Scala Coeli are its seventeenth-century tower, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. It was once a bell tower, and its smooth prismatic body can still be seen on Calle Ancha.
Triunfo de San Rafael
This monument was built between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, under the artistic influence that came from Córdoba, the city where the Archangel is Custodio.It is built on a square base and consists of a pedestal that supports a narrower replica, followed by a slender fluted column, all crowned by a Corinthian capital, the top of which serves as the platform for the figure of the Archangel. Located in Plaza San Rafael.
The enclosure walls of the town are a military construction dating to the Almohad period of the twelfth century. It is said that forty towers once dotted the wall. This structure has also beendeclared an Asset of Cultural Interest.
The castle formed part of the walled enclosure, next to the Parroquia de la Asunción. Its construction dates back to the fourteenth century, but it has undergone many reformations in subsequent years. Its main tower is known as Homenaje. The whole site, declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, is located in Plaza San Rafael.
Iglesia del Carmen
Although it is now a church in its own right, the Iglesia del Carmen once formed part of the Convent del Carmen Descalzo, founded in 1554. The interior portico courtyard of the old Convent is well preserved. Artwork highlights include carvings of the Cristo de la Misericordia, the work of the sculptor Castillo Lastrucci, and the image of Soledad dating to 1944. The site is located on Calle Corredera.
Iglesia de Jesús Nazareno
This church was originally the Ermita de San Benito, built in the eighteenth century, with mural paintings adorning the transept. The main altarpiece was made in 1734 by Gaspar Lorenzo de los Cobos, and the images of Jesús Nazareno, San Juan and Nuestra Señora del Mayor Dolor are all the work of Castillo Lastrucci. The church is situated on Plaza de Jesús.
Iglesia Madre de Dios
This church was built in 1430 and has undergone subsequent reforms, including work on its entrance in 1607 and again in 1647. As a result of all these adjustments, it has become one of the most original and curious temples of the province of Córdoba, and can be visited on Calle Alta.
Ermita Virgen de la Salud
This chapel was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century, rebuilt from its original location on the outskirts of the town, and now sits on Plaza Paseo de la Salud.
The date of construction of this pósito (grain store) is unknown. However, its architecture places its origins towards the first half of the eighteenth century.Today it is used as the public library, and is located on Calle Tercia.
Reñidero de Gallos
The construction of this cockpit took place at the end of the eighteenth century, and it is considered one of the oldest sites in Spain where this hobby is still practised. To this day, rooster fights are held here, but new laws mean that placing bets on the fights is illegal. Located in the neighbourhood of La Villa.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
From the eighteenth century to the present day, local archaeologists and historians have been painstakingly cataloguing scattered sources from numerous archives in order to illuminate the ancient history of Castro del Rio. Impressive archaeological sites located just outside the village, next to the banks of the Rio Guadajoz, assist in this process, and are well worth a visit.
Castro del Río offers wonderful surroundings ideal for hiking. Some of the best routes include Ruta del Califato, Camino Mozárabe del Camino de Santiago, Sendero GR 43: Cordel de la Campiña, Ruta del Cereal y del Olivo and Ruta del Gótico Mudéjar.
Olive wood forms a huge part of Spain's identity, yet Castro del Rio is one of the very few places which still uses this material for crafts. It is probably the only town to use it specifically for making furniture. Its rocking chairs are particularly well known, with John F. Kennedy having owned two made in the town.
The gastronomy of Castro del Río is rich and varied, and is almost always eaten in accordance with local festivities. Visitors can enjoy bollitos del Día del Señor (biscuits) during Corpus Christi, magdalenas (muffins), roscos and pestiños (sweet pastries) throughout Holy Week, and not forgetting the castillos de caramelo (caramel biscuit castles) made for weddings. Other dishes to try include rabo de toro (oxtail), albóndigas (meatballs) and flamenquines (roulade of pork loin and jamón).
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Celebrated the 2 February.
Celebrated the 3 February
Celebrated in February.
Holy Week (dates vary each year).
Celebrated the 25 April.
Feria de la Cruz
Romería de la Virgen de la Salud
Celebrated the first Saturday of June.
Feria de los Caracoles
Celebrated in June.
Feria de Santiago
Celebrated the 25 July.
Feria de Agosto
Celebrated around the 15 August.
Celebrated in September.
Feria Artesanal "Ars Olea"
Craft and Food Fair celebrated in October.