by Saskia Mier
El Carpio sits on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, and is topped with a tower on a hill. The town has around 4500 inhabitants.
The origins of El Carpio might be detectable in the quote from Pliny the Elder (III, 10) in which the town's former name, Onuba, is mentioned in this area. The Onuba legend also appears on the coins minted in this area in the first century B.C.
The tower which is the town's centerpiece was constructed by Garci Méndez de Sotomayor, descendant of the Conquerors of these lands, prior to his participation in a series of weapons events on the Granada border during the reign of Alfonso XI. The rest of the town was subsequently developed around the tower.
In 1240, Alcocer was conquered by Fernando III who later donated his town and fort to the Council of Cordova in 1245. Part of its term was distributed amongst members of the family that collaborated in its re-conquest; the Meléndez or Méndez de Sotomayor. One of the descendants of that family, Garci Méndez de Sotomayor, managed to reunite assets distributed by Fernando III, and ordered that a fortress tower be built in them.
The territory that includes the present municipal boundaries of El Carpio was once part of the Roman municipality of Sacili Martialium, which had its urban nucleus located in the Cortijo del Alcurrucón. Sacili Martialium had the rank of a municipality under Latin law and was later integrated into the Cordovan legal agreement.
In 1472, the Méndez de Sotomayor was linked with the Casa de Haro. In 1549 it rose to the rank of Marquisate and, from 1559, extended its jurisdiction to the neighbouring towns of Pedro Abad and Adamuz. In 1660 and again in 1747, the Seven Villas de los Pedroches were subject to its jurisdiction. This phenomenon reflects the power acquired by the Casa de Haro, which joined with the house of Alba in 1688.
THINGS TO SEE
Torre de Garci Méndez (Torre del Homenaje)
Following the medieval custom, this Mudejar tower, that was once part of the Castle of the Méndez de Sotomayor, stands on a hill that looms over the town. The construction of the tower was ordered by the feudal Lord Garci Méndez de Sotomayor in 1325, and completed in the same year. It was originally designed by Mahomad and Ruy Gilformada for defense purposes. The tower is located in Callejon Castillo.
Parroquia Nuestra Señora de Asunción
The oldest reference to this church dates to 1360. The original nucleus corresponded to the primitive Mudejar church of the Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, founded by Garci Méndez de Sotomayor. Due to its deteriorated state by the late sixteenth century, it underwent substantial alterations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Of note is the very interesting crypt, located under the main chapel, built for the burial of the Lords of El Carpio. The church is situated on Plaza de la Constitución.
Monumento a la Virgen Inmaculada
This monument was erected in 1803 by Doña Salvadora de Ferreira y Ripa, to commemorate the Sisterhood who protected the town during the plague that once devastated the province. It can be found on Plaza de El Triunfo.
Capilla del Colegio de Nuestra Señora de Piedad y San Isidro
The current chapel dates to the second half of the eighteenth century. However, its origin dates to the first decades of the eighteenth century, when in 1716, Don Francisco Maria Obrero tried to found a pious establishment for the education and subsistence of the poor girls of the town. It is thought that this institution failed to be impactful due to the shortage of rents at the time. In 1760, by decree of Bishop Don Martín de Barcia, a school was eventually founded to educate the girls of the town. The site is located on Calle Colegio.
The municipal theatre is attached to the Torre del Homenaje and has recently been restored. Its basement was once the grain store of the fortress, so the theatre is very much a part of the restorations carried out on the castle in the second half of the seventeenth century. Located on Calle Graneros.
The construction of the palace began in 1671, but the building was later restored during the eighteenth century, Today the palace consists of three different units; an exhibition center on the ground floor, a library on the top floor and a day centre for the elderly. The patio is used by the local radio and aeromodelling clubs, among others. The palace is located on Plaza de la Constitución.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Ermita de San Pedro
Some exterior buttresses date the construction of this chapel to the fifteenth century. Its interior is home to the icon of the patron saint of El Carpio, Nuestro Señor Ecce-Homo. The chapel is located 1km north of El Carpio, on Camino de San Pedro.
Central Hidroeléctrica "El Salto"
This is one of the most prominent hydro-electric power stations in Andalusia, built on blocks of pressed concrete over the Guadalquivir River. It is formed by two cores; the dam and the power station. The system integrates the double functions of dam and bridge in a single unit, the architectural highlight of which is a magnificent portico with a horseshoe arch and polygonal turret inspired by Islamic military architecture. Located north of El Carpio, off the CO-3107.
El Carpio's beautiful natural setting offers many opportunities for exploring, including hiking and canoeing at "El Salto", and the Embalse de El Carpio. On the banks of the Guadalquivir river there are small areas of forest that serve as a refuge for numerous waterfowl.
Las Grúas o Las Presas
These reservoirs are located on the banks of the Guadalquivir, near the remains of the Castillo de Alcocer, behind Ermita de San Pedro. In 1537, Don Luis Méndez de Haro, concerned about supplying his lands with enough water, redirected a channel of the Guadalquivir River, which was a precedent to the engineering works that he would carry out. The works were executed between 1561 and 1568. At present, only the stone construction remains. The wheels have disappeared, whilst the ditches have been transformed and adapted to current needs.
A traditional craft still produced in El Carpio is woodwork, usually carried out in small workshops.
El Carpio offers a rich gastronomy with dishes such as cocido (chickpea stew served with black pudding and chorizo), migas (fried bread with chorizo), tortilla de setas (wild mushroom omelette), potaje de habichuela (broad bean stew), sopa de fideos (stock with pasta noodles), sopa de ajo (garlic and bread soup), potaje de garbanzos con bacalao (chickpea and cod stew), boquerones en vinagre (pickled anchovies) and tortilla de faisanes (bean omelette). Sweet treats include mantecados, polvorones, perrunas (lard cakes), pestiños (sweet honey treats) and torrijas (eggy bread drizzled in honey), all made traditionally at Christmas.
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Día de la Candelaría
Celebrated the 2 February.
Celebrated in February.
Holy Week (dates vary each year).
Romería Virgen de la Cabeza
Celebrated the third Sunday of April.
Verbena de San José
Celebrated the 30 April.
Virgen de la Cabeza
Celebrated the 24 April.
Fiesta de Santiago
Celebrated the 1 May.
Fiesta del Patrón Señor Ecce-Homo
Celebrated the 2 and 3 May.
Romería de San Isidro Labrador
Celebrated on 15 May.
Procesión de María Auxiliadora
Celebrated the 24 May.
Velada de San Pedro
Celebrated the 29 June.
Celebrated the third week of September.