VILLA DEL RÍO
by Saskia Mier
Villa del Río is situated close to the Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro Natural Park and has around 7200 inhabitants.
The origins of this town date to the Late Bronze Age, judging by archaeological remains found in the area, as well as some dating to the Iberian period. Greek ceramic artefacts have also been found locally, which confirm the economic importance of the ancient community here. Findings of Iberian ceramics with geometric decoration, together with Roman materials, indicate the existence of Ibero-Roman people settled in the area until Roman times, probably attracted to both the wealth of the lands and the proximity to the Via Augusta.
The town was known as Orabuena after its conquest by Fernando III, until the second half of the fourteenth century. From then it was known as Aldea del Río. In the seventeenth century, when he it released from the Lordship of Antonio Alfonso de Sousa (1635), Felipe IV gave the town its current name, Villa del Río. Today, the town's main industries are olives, cereals and silk.
THINGS TO SEE
The castle is of Muslim origin and served as an Islamic fortress until conquered around 1240 by Fernando III. In 1469, Fernan Ruiz de Montemayor took the Castle, separating it from the Council of Córdoba to which it had belonged. In 1531 permission was granted to demolish the Castle and build a Church, but rather than being destroyed, the castle was instead transformed. Today it has been restored as the Town Hall, and is located on Plaza Constitución.
Ermita de Jesús Nazareno
Also known as Ermita de San Roque, this chapel has been used since the inauguration of the Divina Pastora School in 1917. The chapel was enlarged in 1840, as indicated by an exterior plaque. The chapel can be found on Calle Alta.
Ermita de la Virgen de la Estrella
At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the appearance of the icon of the Virgin led to the construction of the chapel. In 1531, at the request of the Council of Córdoba, and with the approval of the Emperor Charles V, the church was moved from its former location in the Castle. The works were finished in 1537. In 1738, the chapel was demolished, and in 1841, it was agreed that a new chapel would be built, a project undertaken by the architect Adolfo Castiñeyra Boloix. In 1936, during the bombardments of the Civil War, the Gothic jewel carving dated to 1760 was destroyed. In 1939, a new image was given to the chapel and was blessed in 1940. Located in Calle Estrella.
Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción
This is a relatively young church of Neo-classical style, built in 1907 and inaugurated in 1908. In 1936 during the Civil War it caught fire, leaving only one altar. The interior features two murals by the painter Blas Moyano. The church is located on Calle Garcia Lorca.
Museo Histórico Municipal "Casa de las Cadenas"
This Baroque building dates to the eighteenth century, and was later converted into a museum and cultural center. "The privilege of chains" first related to the most influential nobleman, but over time, knights of the lower nobility gained this title for their ancestral homes, thus obtaining certain privileges. A house with this privilege (casa de las cadenas) was surrounded by chains, which indicated that if a criminal entered, he would be temporarily safe. Currently the Municipal Historical Museum has several permanent rooms dedicated to the painters Pedro Bueno, Blas Moyano and Ginés Liébana. It also houses the Beppo-Abdul room in which watercolors and drawings of an Anglo-Tunisian marriage are exhibited, as well as a drawing by Modigliani. There is an archeology room containing pieces of great historical value. The ground floor has rooms for non-permanent exhibitions that attract a huge amount of activity throughout the year. The "Casa de las Cadenas" is the official venue for two contests; the Premio Nacional de Pintura Pedro Bueno and Premio Nacional de Pintura Contemporánea Manolete. The museum is located on Calle Blas Infante.
Monday to Friday, 10.30-14:00 hrs
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 17:00-20:00hrs
Weekends and Holidays - visits by appointment.
Tel: 957 17 67 67
Museo Matias Prats
This museum is situated on the first floor of the Municipal Sports Pavilion. It consists of two rooms exhibiting, among other objects, posters, photos and awards which recreate the career of teacher Matias Prats. Visits are by appointment only. Tel: 957 17 67 82. Located on Carretera Antigua Madrid-Cádiz.
This building houses one of the most important sets of archives of the Cordovan bullfighter Manolete. The large collection consists of posters, photographs, art gallery, documents and personal clothes. Paco Laguna, Manolete's biographer, keeps him alive through articles, including his work "Tauromaquia de Manolete" which features more than 5000 photographs. Visits are by appointment only. Tel: 957 17 60 53. Located on Calle García Lorca.
Casa Palacio del Marqués de Blancohermoso
This palacial house was built in the early nineteenth century. One of its highlights is a beautiful stone staircase found on the top floor. The forge is equally interesting, and somewhat enhances the whole complex. The house currently belongs to the Marquis of Castillo del Valle de Sidueñas, and can be found on Calle Pablo Picasso.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
This is a former flour mill of Arab origin dating to the tenth century. Constructed of grinding stone, it used the motive power of water to grind the grain; hence the circular shape to facilitate the force. Locals worked in the mill until the beginning of the twentieth century, when it was abandoned. The mill is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River.
The surrounding area of Villa d el Río offers some wonderful hiking routes for keen walkers. Discover the routes of Ruta de la Ribera (3.5km in length) and Sendero de la Heredad (2.5km in length).
Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro Natural Park
The Natural Park is in the northeastern part of the province and occupies the central part of the Sierra Morena mountain range. It consists of a soft undulating landscape, but the characteristics of its soil and the local climate have limited the land's agricultural potential. It is worth mentioning that the Iberian wolf and the lynx, both in danger of extinction, can be found in the Natural Park.
Traditional local crafts in the town have disappeared over time, although forgery is still practised by a few locals.
Typical local dishes to try in Villa del Río include maimones soup, azarillo (typically a starter consisting of roast peppers with cod and egg), caldereta de cordero (lamb stew) and migas (breadcrumbs usually served with chorizo and pork). Sweet treats include gachas dulces (fried bread), crema de nueces (walnut cream), pestiños (honey pastries), roscos (aniseed biscuits) and magdalenas (muffins).
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 (date vary each year).
Celebrated the 3 May.
Fiesta de San Isidro Labrador
Celebrated the 15 May.
Velada de San Roque
Celebrated the 15 August.
Velada de Santiago y Santa Ana
Celebrated the 25 and 26 July.
Feria en Honor de Nuestra Señora la Virgen de la Estrella
Celebrated the 8 September.