by Saskia Mier
Rute overlooks the Iznájar reservoir, and is dwarfed by the Sierra de Rute that looms above it. It is best known for manufacturing aguardiente de anís, an aniseed-flavoured liqueur, the industry for which has been thriving here since the nineteenth century. It has around 9800 inhabitants.
Rute el Viejo, the ruins of which are still preserved, emerged in the first decades of the thirteenth century, as a fortress built by the Arabs in the Sierra with a defensive mission. It belonged to the Nazari Kingdom of Granada, but was conquered around 1240 by Fernando III, who donated it to the Council of Córdoba.
However, the settlement continued to border the remaining Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, which made its situation very unstable. The infant Pedro de Castilla, brother of Fernando IV of Castile, conquered it again in 1313. It was later conquered by Alfonso XI of Castile in 1341. Juan II recovered the town for the Christians in 1433, granting it in Señorío to Ramiro Yáñez de Barnuevo.
During the Civil War between Enrique IV and Don Alfonso (1465-68), Lord of Rute supported the latter, so the Monarch revoked the donation by granting it to Diego Fernández de Córdoba, Lord of Baena and first Count of Cabra, for the help given during the capture of Écija, a dynasty that would exert an almost absolute power in the locality throughout the Modern Age.
The current Rute dates to the sixteenth century, after the former population was abandoned and a new one was a developed.
THINGS TO SEE
Monumento al Anís
The Town Hall, in collaboration with the Aniseed and Liqueur Manufacturers Association, built this monument, which was inaugurated on May 13, 1995, as a sign of respect for the culture and tradition of the town. It is located on Calle Blas Infante.
Ermita de San Sebastián
This chapel, dating to 1582, is now integrated into the Juan Cristóstomo Mangas Home for the Elderly. It has a richly decorated ceiling covered with mural paintings of vegetal motifs in gold and plasterwork in certain points. Located on Calle Granada.
Museo del Anís
The Museum occupies four rooms in the oldest part of a distillery dating back to 1908. It includes exhibitions on the origins of the aniseed spirits of Rute, and their evolution to the present day. Between its rooms you can find, still in operation, jars dedicated to the maceration of liqueurs and a collection of old photographs and old printed labels. A tasting room allows visitors to try the surprising flavors and aromas such as cinnamon and lemon verbena. The museum can be found on Paseo del Fresno.
Monday-Friday, 09:00-14:00hrs and 17:00-19:00hrs
Sunday and Holidays, visits by appointment only from January to September.
June and August, 08:30-14:30hrs
Tel: 957 53 81 43
Ermita de la Vera Cruz
The construction of this chapel and its annexed hospital began in 1555, although it has undergone various reformations since. The walls host images of Jesus tied to the column, a work brought from Granada in 1665, and the carving of the Most Holy Christ of the True Cross, an image from the sixteenth century, possibly of Castilian origin, which was recently donated to the temple. Located on Calle Virgen de la Sangre.
Ermita de San Pedro
The origin of the chapel is unknown, although it is believed to be one of the oldest in the town; it can be seen on Calle Lucena.
Museo del Azúcar
The Sugar Museum was founded more than three decades ago, and presents over thirty sugar masterpieces. As well as reproductions of some of Andalusia's monuments, visitors can see the Castle of Euro Disney and the Basilica of San Pedro recreated in sugar. Life-size sugar figures of the Duchess of Alba or painters, such as Picasso or Dalí, are an addition to the sculptures, as well as paintings, advertising posters and a reproduction of the football world cup, all made of sugar. Enjoy the free tasting that is offered to visitors, see letters from Japan, Cuba, Australia or the United States and do not be surprised if at some point you meet one of the famous and diverse characters that have already visited the Museum, which is located on Calle Málaga.
12 October-5 January, Monday-Sunday, 10:00-14:00hrs and 16:00-19:30hrs.
Tel: 957 53 86 61
Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Built in the last years of the seventeenth century, the Sanctuary houses the image of the Patroness of Rute, the Virgen del Carmen, which was the work of the Granada school, datable to the late seventeenth century and resembling the style of Diego de Mora. It was originally a candlestick, to which a carved body was added in 1975 by Luis Ortega Brú. The Sanctuary can be found on Calle Toledo.
Casa-Museo del Jamón
The Ham Museum was founded by the Jiménez family more than 60 years ago and, over all this time, has been storing the various traditional tools that have been made redundant by technical advances. They formed the Musuem to show the history and elaboration of cured ham. It has several very beautiful ceramic mosaics that present artistic scenes related to the process, such as the slaughter of the pig. These were created by the artist Tomás Egea Azcona. Tel: 957 53 92 27. Located in Calle Virgen de la Cabeza.
Parroquia de San Francisco de Asís
This church has its origin as Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza, the existence of which is traceable back to 1584, although its current appearance dates to a major extension commenced in 1731. In 1736, it became a Franciscan Convent. The main altarpiece was executed in 1725 by the Antequera master, Antonio de Rivera. The most outstanding space of the temple is the dressing room, richly decorated with rococo plasterwork by the sculptor Cecilio Antonio Franco Roldán, who finished it in 1763. The church is situated on Plaza Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza.
Patio con Duende
This patio is an authentic jewel of Córdoba's popular architecture, and the First Prize winner for two consecutive years of the Patio Competition in the province. It is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and can be found on Calle Empresaria Teresa Córdoba.
Parroquia de Santa Catalina Mártir
The original church was built in 1497, erected by Alexander VI. The primitive construction was affected by an earthquake in 1761 and subsequently reformed, eventually being replaced entirely by the current temple, which was built in 1784. The main altarpiece, of great simplicity and neoclassical style, was completed in 1790, relating to the art of Alonso Gómez de Sandoval from Córdoba. The church sits on Calle Francisco Salto.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Museo Artesanal del Mantecado, Turrón y Mazapán
The Artisan Museum is the fruit of fifty years of meticulous work, preserving, maintaining and explaining the artisanal components required for the preparation of turron, marzipan and lard products. The Museum offers a guided tour with displays on traditional methods of manufacturing the sweet delicacies traditionally served at Christmas. The factory shop allows visitors to buy some of the products made in the factory. Located on the A-331, Km 18.7.
ADEBO emerged in 1989. The Foundation runs activities to raise awareness about abandoned donkeys, and to rescue those left to their own devices, with more than 150 being welcomed into the reserve. They have been working for 20 years in a specific recovery program for the Andalusian-Córdoba donkey breed. Located on Calle Rute, Km 1.2.
Located on the edge of the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park, Rute has some great local walks, several of which are well signposted, such as the footpath through the pine forest of Pinar de la Sierra and a section of the long-distance footpath that crosses Spain, the GR7. Contact the tourist office in the Parque Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Tel: 957 532 929) for details of walks and maps.
If you are looking to be surrounded by quiet and nature, explore places such as the Embalse de Iznájar (reservoir), Garganta del Río La Hoz (cascade), Fuente Alta y Rute Viejo (old settlement) and the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park.
When visiting Rute try traditional dishes such as revuelto de collejas (scrambled eggs and campion), boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar), flamenquin (pork roll stuffed with ham and cheese) and remojón de bacalao y naranaja (cod and orange salad). Sweet treats include pestiños (honey pastries) and roscos (donuts), which go perfectly with the local aniseed liqueur.