MONTALBÁN DE CÓRDOBA
by Saskia Mier
Montalbán de Córdoba not only offers some excellent surrounding views, but the fascinating monuments of the Ermita del Calvario and the Ermita Madre de Díos. The town has around 4200 inhabitants.
The archaeological discovery of a bell-shaped vase indicates that these lands were once inhabited bythe communities of the Copper Age. Whilst there is no reference to communities during the Visigoth period, signs of Roman settlement have been discovered. During the Punic wars, a battle between the Roman troops of General Scipio Africanus and the Carthaginian General, Hannon the Great, took place near Montalbán de Córdoba (then named Segovia), according to the Roman historian Strabo. General Scipio defeated the Carthaginians and imprisoned Hannon in the fortress, which he used as military headquarters for his war against the Carthaginians. After winning the war, he granted it the title of Villa in the year 208 A.C.
During the time of Al-Ándalus, Montalbán was on the border between the Cora of Córdoba and Cabra.A castle or Andalusian fortress existed during this time, although at present there are no remains of such a construction, since it was demolished and its site used as the Era del Castillo. Montalbán was re-conquered by Fernando III between February 1240 and March 1241.In 1257, the town became dependent on the Portuguese knight Gonzalo Yáñez Dovinal, afterit was rewarded to him by Alfonso X for his collaboration during the re-conquest of the valley of the Guadalquivir River.It was later inherited by his son, Gonzalo Yáñez de Aguilar, who in turn left it to his son. This latter heir died without a child, so in the mid-fourteenth century his inheritance was went to his brother, Fernán González.
In 1356, he sold the town to Diego Fernández of Córdoba. It was subsequently inherited by his daughter Beatriz, who married Fernán Alfonso de Montemayor. Through this chain of ownership, Montalbán came to belong to the Casa de Montemayor.In the fifteenth century, it was inherited by Alfonso Fernández de Montemayor, and later by Fernán Yáñez de Badajoz, who eventually sold it onto Alcaide de los Donceles, who yielded its purchase rights to Pedro Fernández de Córdoba, Mr. de Aguilar and Marqués de Priego. Therefore, Montalbán depended once again on the Casa de Aguilar.
In 1603, King Felipe III El Piadoso created the Marquesado de Montalbán in favour of Pedro Fernández de Córdoba-Figueroa, IV Marqués de Priego. This was a major step towards the formal institutionalisation of the town as its own entity.
THINGS TO SEE
Ermita del Calvario
Towards 1700, the original chapel was constructed, butusing very poor quality materials which left the structure in aruinous state over a very short period of time. When the Cofradía (Brotherhood) was founded in 1773, a new chapel was to be built, although like the first, the material used for its construction was poor. By 1852, the chapel was once again in a state of decline. The current chapel was built in 1856, and although built from longer lasting materials, the entrance was conserved from the previous chapel, the work of the artist Francisco Suárez. Declared an Artistic Historical Monument, the chapel is located on Calle Llano del Calvario.
Ermita Madre de Dios
It has been suggested that this chapel dates back to the fifteenth century, although the mixture of architectural additions suggests later reformations, ranging from the Baroque to the Neoclassical. The principal altarpiece is a highlight, seemingly late-Renaissance in style, along with paintings of Baroque characteristics. The chapel is not usually open for mass, except on designated dates such as the Romería. It has been declared an Artistic Historical Monument, and is situated on Calle Madre de Dios.
Iglesia de Santa María de Gracia
An earlier church was built on this site in 1549,but this current structure dates from 1965. According to the new teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the earlier chapel was demolished due to its ruinous state. Many of the original contents have been retained, including several Passionist images of Montalbán and an articulated effigy of Christ, which represents the Descent on the afternoon of Good Friday, and presides over the temple built by architect Carlos Sáenz de Santa Maria. The church is located on Plaza de Andalucía.
The municipal theatre, inaugurated in 2011, was built on the site of the former Civil Guard Barracks. It has a capacity of 209 seats, and in addition to theatrical performances from local theatre group Almocafre and other companies, it is used for conferences and cinema screenings. The facilities also include a room where travelling art exhibitions are hosted. The theatre can be found on Plaza de Andalucía.
Pilares y Fuentes
Montalbán has a selection of water sources and fountains spread throughout the town, some very simple in design and others slightly more ornate. If you are exploring the town and its surroundings, you may come across a few of them, including; Fuente El Mansegar, Pilar El Cambrón, Pilar del Prado, Fuente del Soto, Fuente de la Plaza de Andalucía and Fuente del Jardinito.
There are numerous view points positioned around the town that offer some interesting views for visitors, such as; Mirador de La Campiña (Calle Llano del Calvario), Mirador de la Cruz de San Antonio (Paseo del Oeste), Mirador de la Era del Castillo (Calle Castillo), Mirador del Parque de Santa Fe (Calle Santa Fe), Mirador del Este (Calle del Este), Mirador de la Alameda (CP-211) and Mirador de la Carretera de Montilla.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
These cortijos are farmhouses that would once have formed the principal economy of the town, harvesting numerous crops of fruit, vegetables and grains. Four cortijos surround Montalbán, their styles epitomising the agricultural architecture of the area; Cortijo Los Cantillos, Cortijo Las Morras or Casa Pelenchones, Cortijo El Prado and Cortijo de Trillo.
Catacumbas de Tentecarreta
The catacombs were built between the second half of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, on a much older site dating to the time of the Roman Empire. Even at this time, catacombs were rare, which makes those of Montalbán unique in Spain. These subterranean galleries constitute a tangible ancient heritage for the population of Montalbán, and the area has become a site of ethnological interest for the municipality. In 2009, archaeological work was carried out in which the site was surveyed and data was collected. With similar investigations ongoing, the space is not currently accessible.
This is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the town. Its settlement dates back to the late Bronze Age, lasting during the Orientalising phase.
For visitors keen on hiking, why not explore the area on any of the various routes Montalbán has to offer; Ruta de la Campiña- Montalbeña (6km), Ruta Feria del Vino de Tinaja (35km), Ruta Campestre de Montalbán (12.5km) and Ruta del Calvario (17km).
Montalbán is not particularly famous for producing crafts; however, you will still see a few products made by local women either in leather or with hand painted decoration.
Visitors who stay in Montalbán to eat should try their local dishes such as gazpacho, naranjaspicadas (orange salad), salmorejo (tomato and garlic soup), sardinas crudas (raw sardines) and boronía (broad bean and aubergine stew). Sweet treats include magdalenas (muffins usually made for Easter), roscos de vino (spiced biscuits), gachas (similar to semolina) and pestiños (sweet pastries). Watermelon and melon are very popular fruits here and are grown locally.
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Celebrated in February.
Día de la Bicicleta and Día de Andalucía
Celebrated the 28 February.
Feria del Vino de Tinaja y Gastronomía
Wine and Gastronomy Fair celebrated in March.
Holy Week (dates vary each year).
Día del Libro
Celebrated the 23 April.
Día de los Trabajadores
Celebrated the 1 May.
Concurso de Balcones, Rejas y Terrazas
Competition in which residents decorate balconies, entrances and patios, celebrated at the beginning of May.
Romería de San Isidro
Celebrated the 15 May.
Feria del Ganado
Agricultural fair celebrated in June.
Jornadas del Ajo y el Meló
Celebration of garlic and melon in July.
Feria en Honor a Nuestro Padre Jesús del Calvario
Celebrated the 5-8 August.
Jornadas de Arte Contemporáneo
Contemporary Art Fair celebrated in September.
San Francisco de Asís
Celebrated the 4 October.