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Arjona

ARJONA

by Saskia Mier

Arjona has achieved popularity and fame for its olive oil production. The integration of the olive tree into the landscape, the economy and the way of life of the locals over the centuries have accumulated a cultural background for the town with the olive tree and its products as the main exponents. It has about 5,500 inhabitants.

HISTORY

Arjona corresponds to the ancient Urgavo or Urgao Alba from Roman times. After Caesar’s victory at Munda (45 BC), Urgavo received a privileged legal status for his support of the Caesarian side, as did Iliturgi, Isturgi and Obulco. Important epigraphic remains have been found that demonstrate the importance of the city in high imperial times, together with the probable existence of temples dedicated to Augustus and Plotina, Trajan’s wife.

After the Muslim conquest, Urgavo became known as Qal’at Aryuna in Arabic, being controlled by the Banu Bayila family. After the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba, the city participated in the internal struggles of the Taifa period, seeing its walls reinforced. Mohamed ibn Yusuf ibn Nâzar (or Nasr), better known by the name Alhamar (the Red), future first Nasrid King of Granada was born here in Aryuna, in 1194. He was born in the Alcázar (today the site of the San Miguel Hospital), which had been known since ancient times as the Casa del Rey.

With the Christian conquest, carried out by Fernando III in the year 1244, the town was besieged and razed. In 1430, King Juan II gave it to Don Fadrique de Castro with the title of Duchy. Four years later, it was sold to the Constable, Álvaro de Luna. It obtained the title of city in 1891.

THINGS TO SEE

Murallas de Arjona
The walls of Arjona date from the Almohad period. They originally had about 22 towers, as well as too distinct additional stone towers, one of which was octagonal. The fortress or main fortified enclosure is located at one end of the hill’s plateau. Those who built the castle took advantage of the abundant materials from previous constructions which were strewn across that area. What was the site of the fortress is today occupied by the Iglesia de Santa María and the Santuario de las Santas Reliquias, built with the stones of the towers of the old enclosure. Declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 1985. Located in Paseo de los Mártires.(Location)

Cripta del Barón de Velasco
This is a neo-Byzantine style crypt built between 1920 and 1930 by Fernando Ruano Prieto, “Barón de Velasco”, as a private family pantheon. This crypt was part of an architectural complex of Capilla-Crypta, where the chapel was located inside Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, and had its access through the site that today occupies the Capilla del Sagrario de la Iglesia. Today that chapel does not exist, and in 1982 the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista was rebuilt after the damage caused by the Spanish Civil War, when the current entrance to the crypt was opened. Three colossal statues representing the Theological Virtues, sculpted in Carrara marble by José Capuz, facilitate access to three rows of mortuary niches, on the sides of which are marble bas-reliefs. Located on Calle San Juan.(Location)

Aljibe Almohade
The Aljibe is situated in the Ancient Alcazaba of Aryuna, just below what might have been the Great Mosque in Islamic times. The cistern was built at the beginning of the twelfth century, the work of the Almohades. Located in Plaza Santa María.(Location)

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista
The church was erected in the sixteenth century, but was practically destroyed during the Civil War, so that from the time of its construction only the main door remains, made in 1531 by Juan de Marquina. The restoration project was the work of the architect Fernando Wilhemi Manzano. The stone tower, built during this phase of restoration, is octagonal and has an open brick bell tower with semicircular gaps, all of which is crowned with a spire. In 1952, the works were stopped due to the death of its main promoter. In 1953, the Council of Ministers agreed to continue the reconstruction, which ended in 1955. Located on Calle San Juan.(Location)

Museo Arqueológico
The Archaeological Museum opened on November 22, 2012. It presents a collection of nearly 3,000 pieces, ranging from fossil remains to more modern archeological artefacts. It is divided into three rooms: a first room dedicated to prehistory; a second one dedicated to history, where ethnographic elements from the numerous colonizing populations (including Iberian, Roman and Muslim) are shown; and a third, dedicated to two illustrious characters in local history, King Alhamar and Helvia Paulina, both born in Arjona. Located on Calle Santa María.(Location)

Opening Times:
Saturday, 10:00-13:30hrs and 17:00-20:00hrs
Sunday, 10:00-14:00hrs and 17:00-20:00hrs
Free entry
Tel: 953 52 33 25

Iglesia del Carmen
Construction of this church began in 1898 thanks to Isidoro Pérez de Herrasti, in memory of his deceased daughter, Carmen. It is built on the site that served as an orchard for the Hermanas de la Cruz, in the convent that later communicated with the church, and in which two well-differentiated styles are observed: the elegant and slender tower, built in a neo-Mudejar style similar to that of the Iglesia de Santa Ana de Granada, whilst the rest of the building corresponds to historicist approaches from the late nineteenth century. The church is owned by the heirs of the Conde de Antillón. Located in Plaza del Carmen.(Location)

Iglesia de San Martín
Today only the thin bell tower remains of this building, built in the sixteenth century. The rest of the primitive church, in Gothic style, was burned and destroyed during the Civil War in 1936. Its current appearance corresponds to what was built between 1944 and 1948 according to a project by architect Ramón Pajares. The rectangular tower was made higher than designed, which causes a slight lateral inclination. Located in Plaza San Martín.(Location)

Museo de Arte y Costumbres “Juan Eslava Galán”
The Museum of Art and Tradition was launched in the summer of 2011. Since that date, through the museum’s inauguration in November 2012 and continuing today, hard work has been undertaken to complete an important collection of ethnographic and traditional objects used by residents of Arjona throughout its most recent history. The museum’s collection is the result of donations from local residents, especially Juan Eslava Galán, who donated most of the collection. Today, there are many residents who, after visiting the museum, decide to make new donations, in order to help the team of curators to complete the collection. The museum shares a building with the Museo Arqueológico. Located on Calle Santa María.(Location)

Opening Times:
Saturday, 10:00-13:30hrs and 17:00-20:00hrs
Sunday, 10:00-14:00hrs and 17:00-20:00hrs
Free Entrance
Tel: 953 52 33 25

Iglesia de Santa María
It is believed that this church occupies the site where numerous other sanctuaries have stood over time. There is therefore likely to have been a Roman temple dedicated to Caesar Augusto here, as well as the Major Mosque of the Alcázar de Aryuna, Christianized after the Christian Re-conquest by King Fernando III in 1244. The church dates from the first half of the sixteenth century and has a single ship with a cruise. Since 1843, it has held the images of the Patrons of Arjona, San Bonoso and San Maximiano, and that of Santa María del Alcázar, who was also the patron saint of the town. Its current appearance is the result of reforms after its destruction in 1936. Located in Plaza Santa María.(Location)

Santuario de las Santas Reliquias
This sanctuary was erected during the Bishopric of Moscoso y Sandoval to guard the supposed remains of the martyred Saints, Bonoso and Maximiano, found in this town at the beginning of the seventeenth century. It was built between 1617 and 1619 with stone from Santiago de Calatrava and, as planned by Juan de Aranda, two churches were superimposed. In the lower part, a chamber was drilled to be seen from the outside, as a crypt, with access through the Los Santos cemetery. It has a polychrome plaster altarpiece with Baroque decoration, which was not finished until the middle of the nineteenth century, tombstones with the stories of the martyrs and a Plateresque doorway. The upper part is accessed from the Plaza de Santa María, through a doorway built in 1659, and its floor plan consists of a single nave covered with a barrel vault with lunettes and architrave pilasters that support semicircular arches. The sanctuary houses the Museo de los Santos, in which a good part of the Brotherhood’s heritage is exhibited, as well as drawings and photographs. Visits are by appointment only. Located in Plaza Santa María.(Location)

THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE

Cortijo La Torre
Cortijo La Torre uses the cold extraction method to obtain their olive oil, which has gathered over 125 international awards for its quality. The tradition and long experience of more than a century in the cultivation, collection and obtaining of oil allows Cortijo La Torre to guide consumers through the sensations of smell, taste and culture of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Their EVOO is characterized both by its high organoleptic quality and by its high content of vitamins A, D, E and K. Visits are by appointment only. Located south east of Arjona, off the JV-233B.(Location)

GASTRONOMY

Dishes to try when visting Arjona include migas (fried breadcrumbs served with pork), pipirrana (tomato and pepper salad), flamenquin (pork roll stuffed with ham), gazpacho (cold tomato soup) and hornazo (olive oil bread filled with boiled eggs). For something sweet, try their bizcocho de los santos (sponge cakes).

FESTIVALS

Popular festivals in Arjona are Fiestas de San Isidro, Feria Real, Fiestas de los Santos and Semana Santa. More>

NEARBY PLACES

The neighbouring villages to Arjona are Arjonilla, Porcuna and Escañuela.

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