Doña Mencía offers a wonderful blend of nature, culture and history, attracting a huge variety of visitors. Significantly, it is part of the protected Natural Park of the Sierras Subbéticas, where the Vía Verde de la Subbética is located. The town has around 4700 inhabitants.
The origins of Doña Mencía are indicated by the archaeological site of El Laderón, where a tomb belonging to the Bronze Age Argaric culture was found.
The area was inhabited with great fortifications during the Roman and Iberian eras, but its current name, according to tradition, comes from the wife of Alvar Pérez de Castro, Doña Mencía López de Haro (1217-1272), a lady from Bizkaia who eventually became Queen of Portugal after marrying King Sancho II.
The surrounding land belonged to Baena until 1415, when Juan I donated it to Diego Fernández de Córdoba. Don Diego, Marshal of Castilla, is considered to be the founder of the current nucleus of the town. Doña Mencía became independent from Baena in 1653, with its own Town Hall. In 1834, Doña Mencía passed to the jurisdiction of Cabra.
THINGS TO SEE
The Castle was built by Diego Fernández de Córdoba in the fifteenth century. The castle's history consists of five different stages of occupation. The first was during the late Roman period, and the second in the thirteenth century by the Order of Calatrava, who erected a watchtower. The third took place at the beginning of the fifteenth century, with adjustments by the Mudéjar Castle architects at the service of the Casa de los Fernández de Córdoba, in order to house a larger number of troops. The fourth stage, commencing in the sixteenth century, saw the castle transformed to serve new functions as a warehouse, barn and mill; these changes lasted until the nineteenth century. The castle was finally developed at the beginning of the twentieth century, by the sisters of Cristo Rey. The castle stands in its current form on Calle Juan Valera.
This building is attached to the Castle and was built between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth. It was originally used as a grain store, particularly for wheat and barley. Since its reconstruction, it has served as an exhibition hall for the Muestra de Arte Contemporáneo DMencia (Contemporary Art Exhibition).
This church is located outside the walls of the castle and contains one of the most beautiful images of the old town of Doña Mencía. Its construction dates to 1420, and the building was later extended between 1737 and 1742 by the community of Dominicans who lived in the annexed convent. It was destroyed in a fire in 1932, giving rise to its "Open Air Auditorium" in 2000, which continues to hold cultural events in the summer. The site is located on Calle Federico García Lorca.
Ermita del Espíritu Santo
In 1936, this church was inaugurated in what is known as "La Plazuela", and it was later used as the new place of worship for the town after the fire at Iglesia Vieja. It is situated on Calle Hospital.
Ermita y Mirador del Calvario
This chapel can be seen from any spot in the town. El Mirador (the viewpoint) is located in "La Serrezuela" next to the Ermita del Calvario. It offers one of the most beautiful views of the town and the surrounding natural environment. The same points serves as the beginning and end of one of the circular walking routes that surround Doña Mencía; La Ruta de los Recintos Fortificados. This beautiful point is located on Calle Calvario.
This street is known as the oldest in the town, situated close to the Castle walls and presided over by one of its most emblematic towers, La Torre del Homenaje. All of the town's Mayors have lived on this street, including Alcalá-Galiano.
Fuente del Ejido
The water fountain, also known as Pilar de Abajo, was built around the year 1653, when Doña Mencía formally became a municipality, and is hence one of the great vestiges of the community's ancestors. It was built by Juan Valera, who described it extensively in his written works. It consists of a fountain, water trough and washing area. At present, a recreational area has been created around the fountain, though the monument's beauty has been preserved. The site can be found on Calle Pilar de Abajo.
Museo Histórico de Doña Mencía
The Historic Museum was created in 1980 for the conservation and dissemination of local heritage and culture, as well as to facilitate historical training for citizens. The collection is made up of archaeological remains from more than 300 sites in the province, ranging from the Palaeolithic era to the Middle Ages. The artefacts are divided into two sections; archaeology and ethnology. The museum is located on Calle Juan Ramón Jiménez.
Saturday and Sunday, by appointment only.
Price: Free Entrance
Tel: 957 69 50 75 and 957 67 60 20
Museo del Vino Menciano
This Museum offers an insight into the local production of wine. Visitors can enjoy a taste of wines from the Montilla-Moriles denominación de origen, which are also for sale, as well as delicious balsamic vinegar. Located on Ronda Povedano.
Monday-Saturday, 09:00-14:00hrs and 17:00-20:30hrs
Tel: 957 67 60 16
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Torre de la Plata
The Torre de la Plata is a lookout tower of medieval origin, located within the Natural Park of the Sierras Subbéticas in a strategic position on the road to Cabra. It was erected in the mid-fourteenth century, prior to the construction of the Castle of Doña Mencía. The Tower is under the protection of the Declaration of the Decree of April 22, 1949, and Law 16/1985 on the Spanish Historical Heritage register. In 1993, the Junta de Andalucía granted special recognition to the Castles of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia. In this tower, an interesting seventeenth century AD necropolis has been discovered.
Doña Mencía offers idyllic surrounding countryside for hiking. Try exploring the Fuente Las Pilas-Torre Plata between Doña Mencía and Cabra, a circular route measuring approximately 5.5km in length, which takes an average of two hours to complete. It begins and ends at the Estación Vía Verde Doña Mencía. The Ruta de los Recintos Fortificados is also worth considering for lovers of walking.
La Oreja de la Mula
This cyclopean enclosure measures more than 2m in length, has a maximum height of 2.20m, and is formed by a wall 1.60m thick, made with a double row of limestone blocks. The former occupation of this fortification is evident in the large number of pottery fragments around the summit.
El Laderón is a natural hill of 820m, located about 1.5km southwest of the urban centre of Doña Mencía, with a plateau of 10,00m². It lies on the northern slope of the Sierra Abbrevia. From its plateau, you can see the rugged landscape of the mountains of Luque, Alcaudete and Martos in the east, the Córdoba countryside in the north and archaeological sites, walled enclosures and ancient roads dotted around the west. El Laderón is the most important archaeological site of Doña Mencía, and as such is included in the Protected Archaeological Heritage of the NN. S.S. of Doña Mencía published in the year 2001. Also, according to the General Plan of Cultural Assets of the Ministry of Culture, the site is classed as an Archaeological Zone of Interest (Category 3), privately owned with agricultural use.
When visiting Doña Mencía, try some of their traditional dishes such as tomates "guisaos" (stewed tomatoes), "apagaillo" (anchovies in vinegar), patatas en adobillo (marinated potatoes), pollo asado a la menciana (roast chicken), gazpacho, salmorejo, cocina de habas (broad beans) and variedad de "mojetes" (cold tomato, onion and tuna salad). Sweet treats consist of "cuajaos" (marzipan tarts), pestiños (honey pastries), roscos de vino (dumplings), gachas de mosto (sémola made with dry wine), torticas de azúcar (sugar biscuits) and polvorones (lard biscuits traditionally made and eaten at Christmas).
Festivals in Doña Mencía
Festivals that are popular in Doña Mencía are Cabalgata Reyes Magos, San Blas, Carnaval, Feria en Honor a San Pedro Mártir de Verona, Patrón de Doña Mencía, Romería de San Pedro, and Verbena en Calle Llana. More>