With a population of 5,000 this is one of the larger towns in the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park. Cortegana's castle dominates the skyline from miles around and is particularly dramatic with the sunset behind it.
Things to see
Castle of Cartegana
The castle offers one of the best views of the Sierra and is a good introduction to the town nestling beneath it. Like the castles at Aroche and Cumbres Mayores, the castillo de Cortegana was built in 1253 and enlarged in 1293 under Sancho IV, as part of the defensive line of fortifications called the Banda Gallega, to warn of a Portuguese incursion. An earthquake in 1685 did considerable damage and prompted a further reconstruction and again after the Lisbon earthquake in 1755.
This relatively compact castle has been heavily restored and its interior is embellished with suits of armour and heavy, medieval-looking furniture. The castle, its hilltop and the streets leading up to it are the ideal location for a four-day Medieval festival held in August.(see below).
Within the castle's outer walls is the hermitage church of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad XIII. Many local miracles are associated to this saint who is the patron of the town. This church is also called and was first referred to by Juan de Ledesma in 1633.
The castle opening hours are 11.00 to 14.00 and 16.00 to 18.00 ( from 21 July to 22 Sept afternoons are 17.00 to 19.00) Mondays Closed.
The Bullring (plaza de toros) back to 18585 unusually the outer walls, like many of the buildings in the Sierra de Aracena are built from stone. It can seat 3.300 spectators.
There are two casinos (working men's bars - but you don't have to be male, or employed, to enter) in the town; the best is located in the Plaza de la Constitución. A cavernous Art Deco building, it is beautifully tiled and even has a grand sitting room with a huge fireplace. The other casino is on the small, attractive square Plaza del Divino Salvador, lined with orange trees.
The town square is dominated by the 16th-century Iglesia del Divino Salvador, with examples of Gothic, Mudéjar and Renaissance style architecture. A majestic brick tower was constructed next to the original church as a bell tower. The church has been restored many times and some parts are even thought to be 14th century.
Church of San Sebastián
Gothic Mudejar style with renaissance additions in the 16th century. It has a single nave with two doors, one on the south and the other on the west. The original roof was wooden but this was replaced with half moon domes. Inside are images of Cristo de la Vera Cruz and San Sebastian.
Hermitage El Calvario
A 19 century sanctuary where there housed imagines of Padre Jesus Nazareno de Cartegena (1963) and Virgin Maria Santisima del Valle.
You can't miss the marisquería on the N-433 near the Guardia Civil building, a good restaurant to visit for a change from the usual pork dishes on offer in the sierra. Bar El Nogal on the Almonaster road south of the centre, Avenida de las Minas, has the terrace with the best view in Cortegana, looking out to the castle and the surrounding countryside.
Carnival in Feb or March.
Holy week with spectacular processions.
Romería de San Antonio de Padua
Corpus Christi in June.
Feria de Cortegana first week in September.
Jornadas Medivales Medieval festival second weekend in August. Biggest and best established of it type in Andalucia. Has taken place annually since 1995 features medieval market, forums, events. 60.000 attend the weekend. Highlights include jousting tournaments and a spectacular re-enactment of the battle between the Moors and Christians, as well as a large atmospheric market, bars, music and singing. There is usually a piper band concert from Galicia (or Scotland - Red Hot Chili Pipers in 2014) in the castle grounds late on the Saturday night.