La Iglesia (Church) de Santa Maria
This church, built in the baroque style, has one main aisle, opening on to side chapels. The stone façade is in a fairly plain classic style. The main alter is quite a feature in the church and although some of it was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, much of the structure and decoration is original.
La Iglesia (Church) de San Sebastián
It is believed that this church sits on the site of a Muslim shrine. It was also at one time home to a hermit. Although the present day building is largely reconstructed, it is still thought to be the oldest church standing in Orce. The temple was re-christened and brought into the Christian faith, at the wishes of Saint Sebastian. This was after the Moorish occupation had ended and Spain was in the hands of the Christians.
The small square building which exists to this day was built in the 18th century. There used to be a beautiful carved figure of Saint Sebastian on view in the church, but this disappeared during The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The most lovely views of Orce are from the site of this little church. One of the most respected fiestas( link ver arriba, fiestas San Sebastian) is the one held in honour of San Sebastian, from the 18th to the 29th January.
La Iglesia (Church) de San Antón
San Antón is as loved and respected amongst the folk of Orce as is San Sebastian. Both saints are held in high esteem culturally in the village and both play an important role in local traditional calendar. However, it was not until 1773 that this dedicated building was erected for devotion to this popular saint. Previously, there was an image of San Anton in the hermitage of San Pedro the Martyr, on the south side of Orce.
The annual fiesta, which is held in honour of San Anton (link from fiestas above) on the 17th January in this church, which is the part of the Orce known as barrio de San Anton (the San Anton district), on the western side of the village.
La Alcazaba de las siete torres
The Fortress Castle with Seven Towers
Although the exact origin of this fortress is unknown it certainly dates back before the 11th century. Much of the construction was carried out by the Muslims after the time of the Caliphs. La Torre del Homenaje (the Keep), around 12 meters high, was built at the same time as the castle and then rebuilt in the 16th century after damage caused by an earthquake.
The Belmonte-Segura Palace
The Palacio Belmonte-Segura, known more commonly to the people of Orce as 'la casa grande' (the big house) was built towards the end of the 18th century by the married couple, Doña Gumersinda of Segura and Don Luis de Belmonte. It is a fine mansion, with a beautiful patio and gardens, etc. and is situated in Plaza Nueva. It is now privately owned and has had an interesting history of past occupants.
From 1812 to 1825 it was home to Colonel Villalobos, well known figure from the War of Independence. Another famous name is that of General, Don Francisco Ballesteros. Like the Segura Palace of which it is intended to be a copy, it is now divided into two buildings.
The Segura family were aristocrats whose personal wealth increased considerably through the lucrative business of cattle breeding and livestock farming. From around the middle of the 17th century, they were able to extend their rural 'palace' or stately home in Orce. It now consists of a baroque-style building with a particularly pretty patio, impressive wine cellar, and rococo style chapel. The house has expansive reception rooms decorated with 17th and 18th century tiles and there is a beautifully tranquil garden to the rear.
The Palace is normally open to the public between 08:00 and 15:00 Monday to Friday. For further information contact the Josep Gibert Museum.
Josep Gibert Museum
This museum which was opened in 1983 is housed in the Keep of the Alcazaba de las Siete Torres. The original collection was set up by a team of archaeological excavators and the museum officially inaugurated by the Cultural Minister of the Andalusian Regional Government. In 1987, the well known palaeontologist, Dr. Josep Gibert Clols of the Palaeontological Institute in Barcelona took over. Gibert has dedicated over 30 years of his life to studying and excavating to find out more accurately when mankind first arrived in Europe. In Orce man made-made tools have been found that date back some 1.7 million years and Gibert is in no doubt about the historic and pre-historic importance of this area. He has written numerous books and papers on the subject, including his famous book "El hombre de Orce".
You can see ancient remains from the four main Orce sites; Venta Micena, Fuente Nueva, Barranco del Paso and Barranco León. These exhibits are displayed over three rooms: 1. Fauna 2. Complete pieces of remains and 3. Stone implements and human remains.
New exhibits are sometimes added, as archaeological digs continue in the area.
Plaza Nueva, 1
Tel: 958 746 101
Fax: 958 746 183
Winter: Every day (except Monday) 11:00 - 14:00 and 16:00 - 18:00
Summer: Every day: 11:00 - 14:00 and 18:00 - 20:00
Entrance fee: 2 Euros
Cerro de la Virgen
This hill is home to the remains of an ancient Bronze Age settlement (around 2,500 year BC), where the German archaeologist, Guillermo Shule discovered dozens of bell shaped glasses and other culturally significant pieces from prehistoric, Neolithic times. To walk in this area is to sense the oneness with that population of so long ago, seeing the remains of the forms of homes. It's impossible not to notice the bits of ceramics from across the ages in the ground at your feet.
It was on this site that the famous skull fragment was found and is now known world wide as "Hombre de Orce" (link from the Josep Gibert Museum mentioned above.) This find has opened the question on how long man has been in Europe. The first excavation was done in 1982 and the most significant and surprising feature of this site is the incredible amount of bones found there. This is attributed to the fact that this was the location of the hyenas' lair. Over 2,500 fossil samples pertaining to all kinds of animals have been found on this site alone.
In 1992 when a new electric network installation was being carried out in this area, a very large number of flint and dolomite limestone remains were unearthed. These represent many of the large mammals such as elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, etc. This find is the most important one of its kind so far.
Barranco del Paso and Barranco León
Both these sites are characterised for the abundance of stone utensils rather than human fossils that have been found there. Although there is a lot more scope for excavation here (Permissions are not always easy to come by) dozens of 'knives' and other rudimentary implements made by mankind almost two million years ago have been carefully unearthed from both these sites, during work done in 1991.