by Saskia Mier
The magnificent Castillo de Alcalat, built in the early fourteenth century, looms over this whitewashed village, which has around 3300 inhabitants.
The most remote antecedent of the current town is Ucubi, an Ibero-Turdetani city to which Julius César, in the year 45 A.C., granted the categorisation of Roman colony under the name Colonia Claritas Iulia Ucubi. During the Visigoth period, Ucubi changed its name to Al-Calá, an Arabic name alluding to the fortress that crowned this settlement under Muslim rule.
Over time, the area was depopulated and converted into a private inheritance. By 1260, forty years after the Christian re-conquest by Fernando III, the land belonged to the Pay Arias, and included some ruined towers known as Torres de Pay Arias. On them, Pay Arias de Castro, an outstanding member of the Cordovan nobility in his time, built a castle at the end of the thirteenth century. In 1303, Fernando IV granted him the privilege of repopulating the area, and it was this development which became Espejo.
Throughout the Modern Age, Espejo belonged both to the Marquesado de Comares and the Señorío de Lucena that was owned by the Duke of Medinaceli from 1670.
THINGS TO SEE
Castillo de Alcalat
Today, the fifteenth-century castle remains in perfect condition, with numerous modifications having substantially altered its original construction, including the addition of stately rooms. Built on Roman foundations, it is completely surrounded by a solid wall and offers amazing views of six surrounding villages of the province. The castle is located on Calle Carril de las Cruces.
10:00-14:00hrs and 16:00-19:00hrs.
Guided tours by appointment only.
Tel: 686 31 12 12
Iglesia de San Bartolomé
The Gothic Mudejar church was built in 1483 and extended in 1579. The chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta was erected in the second half of the eighteenth century, after its primitive hermitage was demolished, and is the most important constituent chapel of this church. The building can be visited on Calle San Bartolomé.
Antiguo Convento y Capilla del Cristo del Amor
Between 1733 and 1835, the Carmelitas Descalzos occupied the Convent and adjoining church under the invocation of Santa Teresa. The confiscation of Mendizabal put an end to this foundation, whose members were distinguished for having had an active presence for over a century in the local religious sphere. Currently it houses the image of the Holy Cristo del Amor, and it is located in Paseo de Andalucía
Ermita de la Virgen de la Cabeza
This chapel was built in the sixteenth century and rebuilt at the beginning of the nineteenth. Its sober facade, whitewashed with lime and adorned only with a blackened iron cross, forms a distinct part of the beautiful and tranquil boulevard, Paseo de las Calleras. It is currently closed to worship and only used as a cultural hall.
Capilla de San Miguel
The Baroque chapel was built in 1757 in the house that the priest, Don Miguel de Castro y Leiva, founder of the Colegio de Educandas, had set up. The situation of the church and the prestige of the sisters for their work both in the religious field and in educationresulted in a large following and led to the site being enlarged between 1785 and 1790. The reforms were completed with classrooms for the girls, dormitories for the sisters and a house for the chaplain. The collection of buildings can be foundon Paseo de Andalucía.
Ermita de Santa Rita
This chapel was built in the seventeenth century and enlarged in 1784 thanks to Don Manuel de Gracia, who financed its extension. It is currently closed to worship, but its exterior can be admired on Calle San Sebastián.
This is the terminal deposit of the Roman aqueduct, which supplied water to the colony along the north slope of the hill where Espejo sits. In 1981, the southern sector of this structure was destroyed, because of the construction of the town's ring road. Unfortunately, today it is in an advanced state of deterioration, but its remains can be seen on Calle Virgen del Pilar.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
An aljibeis an architectural construction used to hold water, essentially an underground stone well or cistern. This one dates to the end of the first century BC.The interior is accessed via steps made of ashlar masonry, still mostly conserved, although it has been equipped with an alternative metallic stairway and railing for greater safety. This hydraulic construction fell into disuse in the third century AD. In the Muslim era, the original Roman structure received a series of modifications in order to increase the capacity of water retention. El Aljibeis located just over 1km from the town centre.
Keen hikers should explore the local walking routes which combine nature with local culture; Camino Mozárabe de Santiago, Ruta de la Prehistoria al Islam, Ruta de los Señoríos, Ruta El Reino de Córdoba, Ruta del Califato and Ruta del Vino Montilla-Moriles.
Several traditional crafts are still produced in the town, including leatherwork and wood carvings. However, the use of olive wood and palm to make various products remains the town's most popular craft.
Visitors can try dishes such as guiso de caracoles (snail stew), migas (fried bread with chorizo), salmorejo (tomato and garlic soup), chorizo and morcilla (black pudding). However, Espejo shines in desserts and sweet treats such as cuajao (egg custard), bollos de leche(brioche), magdalenas (muffins), torrijas (eggy bread), perrunas, bichitos and pestiños (sweet pastries).
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Celebrated the 20 January.
Celebrated the 2 February.
Celebrated the 3 February.
Celebrated in February.
Día de Andalucía
Celebrated the 28 February.
Celebrated the 19 March.
Holy Week (dates vary each year).
Romería de San Isidro
Celebrated the 15 May.
Celebrated the first weekend of July.
Celebrated the weekend closest to the 25 July.
Verbena de Santo Domingo
Celebrated the Saturday around the 8 August.
Celebrated around the 24 August.
Verbena de la Fuensanta
Celebrated the 8 September.