by Saskia Mier
Chucena is situated in the Huelva Comarca of El Condado and sits east of the province as the last village before getting to the province of Seville. It has 2020 inhabitants.
The origin of Chucena is closely related to the ancient settlements of Tejada La Vieja and Tejada La Nueva, located in Escacena del Campo. The first was, from the beginning of the first millennium until its disappearance in the mid-fourth century a. C.
The progress of Chucena occured slowly since the Middle Ages due to depopulation of Tejada. The conquest of Tejada takes place in 1253, under the reign of Castilian King Alfonso X. There are municipal archives that confirm the history of Chucena and the Marquis since the mid-sixteenth century to the present.
The history of Chucena is intimately linked to that of Alcalá de la Alameda, an old settlement, with a similar historical origin which today is uninhabited and virtually disappeared. These two villages received their first Order on 10 October 1568 and were forced to fulfil them together. These Orders deprived the residents of many traditions and customs that had been made when they were part of royal land.
During the reign of Felipe III, the Marquis was linked to the Ducado de Medinaceli until the abolition of the feudal regime in 1837, when he married Doña Ana Maria Ribera de Portocarrero, daughter and heir of the second Marchioness Doña Antonia de Portocarrero, with Don Antonio Luis de Bristle, Duke of Medinaceli.
During the eighteenth century a gradual depopulation due to plague in Alcalá de la Alameda took place, with residents favouring Chucena.
In 1833, Chucena depended on the province of Huelva and the judicial district of La Palma del Condado, much to the disappointment of Seville who banked on the economic and historical relations promised.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Estrella
The Renaissance style church can be dated to the last third of the eighteenth century.In 1722, the Cabildo Catedral de Sevilla, decided to expand the church, commissioning the architect, Diego Antonio Díaz, to design plans. Later, Andres de Silva,executed the work within one year. Located in Plaza de la Iglesia.
The town hall opened in 1944 and was built on a previous building dating back to 1888. The interior was renovated in 1987. The entrance is the work of Don Joaquin Guzmán Tirado. The bandstand clock, covered with hemispherical dome and topped by weather vane, puts the vertical accent and symbolism of power to this building.Located in Plaza Andalucia.
La Cruz Chiquita
La Cruz Chiquita originates to the thirteenth century.The monument consists of a cross similar to the Cross of Caravaca. Located on Calle Cruz Chiquita.
Templo de Alcalá Alameda (Ermita de la Divina Pastora)
Originally the Renaissance chapel was built in 1781 but has been restored several times. It was formerly known as Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción y Santa Ana, but after depopulation in the nineteenth century, it was transformed into a rural chapel. Located on the A-481, 1km from Chucena.
Hacienda de Xenís
A typical Andalusian farmhouse built around a central courtyard, other interior patios, barn, mill and nearly 400 hectares of olive trees, orange trees, cereals and sunflowers. Currently the property is used for celebrations due to its' the beauty of its halls, chapel, stables, carriages and harnesses. It also offers excellent hunting, especially small game, such as turtle doves, quail, partridge and hare. Located 2km east of Chucena.
Visits must be arranged with the groundskeeper. Tel: 955 95 9038.
Hacienda de Torralba
Another Andalusian farmhouse originating from the Middle Ages, although it obtained its' name during the eighteenth century. It once belonged to the Marquis de Las Torres and contains a small chapel as well as a lot of bullfighting memorabilia.Hacienda de Torralba has 408 hectares planted with sunflowers, wheat and beet. Located on Calle Torralba.
Hacienda de Alcalá de la Alameda
Two estates can be found where the former town of Alcalá de la Alameda was. Hacienda Alcalá de la Alameda has a mill tower similar to that of the Convento de San Juan Bautista de Villalba del Alcor. Hacienda de la Hiniesta also has a mil that was in full use during the middle of the eighteenth century according to the Catastro de Ensenada. Located off the A-481, approximately 1km from Chucena.
Ruta Haciendas de Chucena
Thereis a route designed to cover the Haciendas of Chucena, starting with Hacienda de Alcalá de la Alameda and Templo de Alcalá Alameda (Ermita de la Divina Pastora), travelling onto Hacienda de Xenís and towardsChucena. The route terminates at Hacienda de Torralba and is 5km in length, taking approximately 50 minutes from start to end.
The route offers two contrasting landscapes. On one hand, there are vast fields of crops, with a variety of colours and textures, and secondly, a forest area, offering a monotonous landscape of eucalyptus. The route is 20km in length and duration of 2½ hours.
Chucena offers a varied gastronomy, with its most typical dish being fritá (made with potatoes, eggs, bacon, sausage and blood sausage). Other popular dishes include caldereta (lamb or pork stew), asadura en "colorao"(spiced meat), sangre con tomate (pig blood fried in tomato sauce), pollo con almendras (chicken in almond sauce), snails and habascochas (broad beans). All dishes can be perfectly accompanied by the wine from the Cooperativa Virgen de la Estrella. During the grape harvest it is tradition to make desserts from mosto, which is the juice from the first pressing of the grapes.
The two main handicrafts that can be seen in Chucena are embroidery and saddlery. The embroidery is extremely popular and has now modernised to create exquisite designs from a variety of different threads. Although less seen but still traditional, weaving is a local craft producing a variety of wicker products.
Celebrated in February, the "fritá" has been a tradition for some years. The Brotherhood of El Rocio use this event to raise funds in Dehesa del Perú, a natural oak landscape.
Día de Andalucia
This day celebrates the independance of Andalucia on 28 Febuary. The streets of Chucena are decorated with Andalusian green and white flags and bonfires are made to toast bread that is eaten with the local oil of Cooperativa San Isidro Labrador and local wine from Cooperative Nuestra Señora de la Estrella.
Romería de San Isidro Labrador y La Divina Pastora
The pilgrimage is celebrated the third Sunday of May to honour the Divina Pastora and San Isidro Labrador.
A very traditional festival in Chucena with processions and mass.
Celebrated 14-17 August, the festival is in honour of the patroness, Virgen de la Estrella. Sport, arts and cultural events, as well as traditional games take place throughout. On 15 August, a procession of the Virgen de la Estrella is taken through the streets at night.
Chucena is located 55km from Huelva. To get there, take the H-31 east towards Seville. Take Exit 34 and arrive at Chucena.