by Saskia Mier
At first glance, Lucena appears to be composed entirely of furniture factories and retail outlets; however, the old town hosts many exquisite churches reflecting its importance in the Subbetica during the Baroque era, and encouraging visits by history lovers. The town has around 42, 500 inhabitants.
The Battle of Munda, in 45 BC was part of part of the civil war between Julius Caesar and the Pompeians. It took place near the small Roman settlement of Munda. This settlement is though to have been located near Lucena or Morilles. During the Muslim era, it was the main nucleus of the Jewish population in Al-Andalus. In fact, Lucena was inhabited exclusively by Jews between the ninth and twelfth centuries. More>
THINGS TO SEE
Castillo del Moral
The castle is a National Historic Monument; the oldest part was probably built in the eleventh century while the city was a Jewish hub. Among its towers, the Torre del Moral is a highlight and conserves its baroque style. The Torre del Homenaje was the cell where King Boabdil el Chico was held under capture. When Lucena ceased to be a border with the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, the castle lost its military character and became the residence of the Lords of Lucena, who would later also hold the titles of Marquis of Comares, Dukes of Cardona and Medinaceli. It currently houses the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum, and can be found on Pasaje Cristo del Amor.
Museo Arquelógico y Etnológico
The museum inside the medieval fortress has been declared a point of cultural interest, and has a series of exhibits about the evolution of life on earth, the cultural and physical evolution of human beings and the development of modern life in Lucena. It is situated inside the Castillo del Moral.
Monday-Saturday, 10:00 to 18:00 hrs, Sunday 10.00 to 15.00 hrs.
Closed on December 25, January 1, January 6, the first Sunday of May and Good Friday.
Adult, 3 euros
Over 65, 2 euros
Children under 6 years, Free
Children 7-16 years, 2 euros
Tel: 957 50 36 62
Palacio de los Condes
This is the Manor House of the Mora Saavedra, constructed between approximately 1730 and 1750. It features two courtyards, a formal wooden staircase with ornate dome. It was reformed oin 2011 and today it is houses a small museum (interpretation centre) about Lucena and holds temporary artistic exhibitions. It is also the location of a tourit office. It is managed by the Fundación de Ciudades Medias del Centro de Andalucía, and can be visited on Calle San Pedro.
Palacio de los Condes de Hust
The seventeenth-century palace is within the old Jewish quarter and formerly belonged to the Soto Flores family. In 1797, the house was inhabited by Miguel Álvarez de Sotomayor and Álvarez de Sotomayor, Count of Hust, writer and descendant of the Flores de Negrón. The last descendant of Miguel Álvarez de Sotomayor and Álvarez de Sotomayor who lived in this house was Miguel Álvarez de Sotomayor y Antrás, who was Mayor of Lucena during the Franco regime. It currently houses the Municipal Library, and is located on Calle Flores de Negrón.
Parroquia de San Mateo
The largest and best-preserved church in Lucena was built at the beginning of the sixteenth century. In the eighteenth century, the chapel was added, one of the most significant architectural Baroque works of this type in Andalusia. Construction began in 1498 at the expense of Don Diego Fernández de Córdoba. The church sits on Plaza San Miguel.
Parroquia de Santiago
The construction of this Gothic-Mudejar church began in 1503, by testamentary disposition of García Méndez de Sotomayor, the Commander of the Order of Santiago. It has been suggested that at one time, it served as a Jewish synagogue. The church is located on Calle Santiago.
Iglesia de San Pedro Mártir de Verona y Capilla de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno
This Neoclassical chapel of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno was initially part of the annexed church of San Pedro Mártir. The principal space was designed by Vicente del Castillo and the stonemason Andrés Cordón in 1758. Located on Calle San Pedro.
Casa de los Mora
The building annexed to the church of San Pedro Mártir was a Dominican Convent founded in 1575 by the Bishop of Córdoba. In 1836, by the decree of exclaustration, it became part of the National Assets. In 1844 it was auctioned and became the property of Juan de Navas García. Before passing to municipal ownership, the building served successively as a liqueur factory, oil mill and winery. Today, following restorations, the building is a public multipurpose center, and can be found on Calle San Pedro.
Parroquia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán
This is a former conventual church built on a chapel dedicated to San Francisco de Paula, and was formed by vote of the city during the plague epidemic of 1680. The plasterwork, attributed to Francisco José Guerrero, is a highlight. The Convent of San Francisco de Paula, attached to the church, has been used as housing for state offices, schools and barracks of the Civil Guard, and is now a hotel. The building is located on Calle Maristas.
Churches and Chapels
Lucena boasts many other religious monuments worth visiting, including Iglesia de la Madre de Díos y Convent RR.PP Franciscanos, Parroquia del Carmen, Iglesia de San Juan Baustista y Antiguo Hopistal de San Juan de Díos, Iglesia de San Martín, Ermita de la Aurora, Ermita de Díos Padre, Iglesia de la Purísima Concepción, Iglesia de San Felipe Neri and Parroquia de la Sagrada Familia.
In 2006, the construction of a Lucena ring-road uncovered an old cemetery from the Andalusian era. Some 346 tombs appeared which were adapted to the topography, and which indicated that a burial ritual took place in a simple or double pit. The skeletal remains indicated burial in the early medieval period between the years 1000 and 1050 AD, coinciding with the period of greatest splendor in the Jewish town. These bones allowed researchers to extract relevant data about the lifestyle and funerary rituals of the Jewish community at this time. A steel perimeter fence around the enclosure has been erected. Elevated wooden walkways offer the visitor a clear view of the graves. There are as well as various information panels about the Jewish community in Spain and its Talmudic School. The site is located on the corner of Calle la Parra and the ring-road. Plenty of street parking nearby. Check opening hours.
Museo Cofradía del Santisimo Cristo del Amor y María Santisima de la Paz
The Brotherhood Museum stands on a constructed area of 400m², divided into three spaces exhibiting sacred art and belongings of the Brotherhood, and is situated on Calle Viana.
Museo de la Automoción Antigua
The Museum of Antique Automotives is positioned in the second hangar of the RENFE train station. The building is the best-preserved example of nineteenth-century industrial architecture in the town. The sample of cars, motorcycles and parts related to the old automotive industry are not permanent exhibits, but rotate monthly so that visitors can see different vehicles owned by the members that make up the Association. The museum is located on Carretera Estación.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Real Santuario de María Santísima de Araceli
This sanctuary offers fantastic views across more than thirty villages and five provinces. There is a picnic area over two terraces, several resting places, a pilgrim reception space equipped with an audiovisual room, an arched hall for celebrations and an inn serving local dishes. The surrounding Sierra de Aras is an extraordinary place for sports activities such as hiking or paragliding, and features many impressive scenic points. The sanctuary is located 6km south of Lucena, off the CO-7216, at the top of the Sierra de Aras.
Winter: Monday-Friday, 08:30-14:00hrs and 16:30-21:30hrs.
Winter: Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 08:30-15:00 and 17:00-21:30hrs.
Summer: Monday-Friday, 08:30-14:00hrs and 17:00-22:30hrs.
Summer: Saturday, Sunday and Holidays, 08:30-15:00 and 18:00-22:30hrs
Tel: 957 334837.
SIMA y Yacimiento de la Cueva del Ángel
The archaeological site of Cueva del Ángel is an important pre-Neanderthal and Neanderthal Paleolithic settlement, dating to between 400,000 and 500,000 years ago. It is the only site of this type in Spain, and was probably a permanent hominid residence for more than 300,000 years. It is temporarily closed for research and improvement work by the Heritage Delegation.
Ruta Laguna Amarga
This circular route is only 1km in length and passes by the Laguna Dulce and Laguna Amarga.
Lucena has protected wetlands within its municipal area, all located near the Ruta del Tempranillo and Jauja. The Dulce and Amarga Lagoons are of great importance due to the presence of Malvasian ducks and other endangered species The Sierra de Aras also offers visitors impressive views of the entire Subbética region, the South Campiña and even the Vega de Antequera. On clear days, visitors can see the land of up to four Andalusian provinces. At the top, paragliding enthusiasts can enjoy one of the few launching tracks in the province. Visitors can also enjoy nearby natural areas such as Río Anzur, Vía Verde de la Subbética and Laguna de los Jarales.
Lucena is partly characterized by its traditional cuisine. Local dishes include naranjas picadas con bacalao y en aceite (cod and orange), bolos lucentinos (meat dumplings), albóndigas de boquerones (anchovy meatballs), papas en ajopollo (stewed potatoes) and chomino (chickpea and cod stew). Sweet treats include pestiños (honey pastries) and gachas de café (coffee pudding).
In addition to the famous candles that are produced in Lucena, the town is known for other crafts such as pottery and furniture.
Lucena celebrates local pilgrimages such as Romería de Nuestra Señora de Araceli. Its summer fair, Feria de San Francisco, is celebrated in August, and there are a series of contemporary events such as the International Jazz Festival. Andalusia-wide festivals are also celebrated in Lucena, including the Three Kings procession, Carnival and Semana Santa. More>