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History of Los Villares

History of Los Villares

by Saskia Mier

A prehistoric civilization is suggested by various cave paintings on the walls of the Los Cañones area, bordering Jaén. There are also indications of Iberian and Arab settlements and remains of Roman civilization, including such treasures as coins, jewels and utensils found throughout the area.Many of these remains are now housed in the Archaeological Museum of Jaén. These numerous populations that once lived and flourished in Los Villares disappeared over time, due to continuous looting by bandits and deserting soldiers from the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. This led to a gradual depopulation of the municipality, leaving it temporarily lifeless.

Afterthe last decades of the Middle Ages and shortly before receiving its Founding Act in 1508, the municipality was formed by a set of small farmhouses and scattered houses, mostly inhabited by peasants who dedicated their lives to the cultivation and farming of the fertile fields, watered by the Eliche and Frío Rivers, as well as to rearing cattle for the Lords of the capital, Jaén.

After the fall of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada and its respective takeover by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, a series of policies were carried out to establish order in the border areas with theKingdom. Juana I of Castile, daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, carried out this policy, thus creating new populations and repopulating these border areas of the Council of Jaén, in which Los Villares, on March 17, 1508, obtained the Founding Charter by royal order of Doña Juana I of Castilla.

That first foundational attempt was unsuccessful, and it was not until 1539, under the reign of King Carlos I of Spain (son of Juana I), that the foundation of the town was finally successful. The intentions were quite clear: to colonize and repopulate the vacant and forgotten lands of the Sierra Sur de Jaén. Los Villares consisted of two nuclei: Villar Alto and Villar Bajo, which were unified and collectively renamed Villa En Medio. After the founding of the municipality, Los Villares was renamed Los Villares de Arenas, due to itsnumerous sand quarries and its direct road to Granada. The first settlers of Los Villares were peasants from the city of Jaén and nearby municipalities such as Torredonjimeno, as well as soldiers belonging to the Royal Guard of Carlos I.