by Saskia Mier
Porcuna is a small but fascinating village, considered among the province’s richest in archaeological sites, with many important findings such as an Iberian bull. It has about 6,150 inhabitants.
Since its periodic Paleolithic settlement, Porcuna has been uninterruptedly occupied by numerous settlers throughout Prehistory (Neolithic, Copper and Bronze), Protohistory (final Bronze, Ancient Iron), the Turdula period, when it was the city-state of Ibolca Túrdula, Roman times, when it was Obulco, and the Muslim occupation of the period of al-Andalus, when it was termed Bulkūna before being Christianised. In this way, the municipality demonstrates the bustling exchange of cultures that so defines Andalusia’s history. More>
THINGS TO SEE
Torre de Boabdil
Following the Re-conquest, the mosques of Porcuna were destroyed and replaced with Christian temples. Surviving this erasure is the Torre de Boabdil (Museo Arqueológico de Obulco), considered by Juan Eslava as “the most beautiful example of military architecture in the Kingdom of Jaén”. It gets its name from the imprisonment suffered by the last King of Granada, captured in the Battle of Lucena. It was erected by the Order of Calatrava between 1411 and 1435. Built with good ashlar stone, it reaches 28m in height, on a polygonal base. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest since 1982. Closed on Monday. Located on Calle Jose Moreno Torres. (Location)
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
After the collapse of a previous Gothic Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor, the current church was erected on the same site, although incorporating the sacristy, which had been renovated in the seventeenth century by the mannerist Benito del Castillo. The current church was designed by Justino Flóres between 1872 and 1910, not in the Neo-Gothic style of Viollet le Duc as intended, but rather according to the Byzantine Neo-Romanesque, due to the scarcity of resources, despite the generous contribution of the locals. In addition to the mural paintings of Julio Romero de Torres in its interior, the church is a museum of revivalist architectural eclecticism, with a wide portico or narthex, cruciform pillars, transverse arches and the dome on pendentives of the transept. Its exterior features a single high-rise tower with an archivolt and rose window that emphasize the medievalism of the complex, buttresses, padded ashlars, oculi and wide stairways to solve the problem of unevenness. Located in Plaza de Andalucía. (Location)
Arco de la Plaza
The religious, administrative and social centre of Porcuna is the Plaza de Andalucía. The generously proportioned space features balconied houses and is accessed through a Gothic-style archway. The arch was once the gateway to the medieval fortress of the walled enclosure, and was rebuilt in 1952. Located in Plaza de Andalucía. (Location)
The Neoclassical Town Hall was previously the Royal Pósito (grain store) and was built by Carlos IV in 1798. It has a basilica floor plan and is made of carved local ashlar. The façade presents, in the centre, a portal with a staircase and a door flanked by Tuscan pilasters on podiums. Inside are rooms 3A and 3B of the Archaeological Museum, housing an exhibition of the Prehistorical, Iberian and Roman culture of the city. Located in Plaza de Andalucía. (Location)
Ermita de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno
The chapel was once that of San Sebastián, with a Latin cross plan covered with a barrel vault. It also has a remarkable altarpiece with biscuit stipes and asymmetrical composition, and a profuse Baroque dressing room in rockery, from the eighteenth century. The exterior is a simple Baroque doorway, crowned with a belfry. Located on Calle Paseo de Jesús. (Location)
Ermita de San Benito
In 1437, the chapel was a priory of the Order of Calatrava, after the conquest of Porcuna in 1240, and a Benedictine Monastery. This Gothic chapel faithfully synthesizes the Cistercian spirit of the Order and integrates very different Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical elements. It consists of two L-shaped naves, the main one with arches and capitals with plant motifs. Outside, it features a Baroque façade and a bell tower with an eighteenth-century roof. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 2003. Located on Calle San Benito. (Location)
Casa de la Piedra
The stone house was built by Antonio Aguilera Rueda (1931-1960) and is perhaps the most emblematic monument in Porcuna, or certainly the best known and most visited. The huge masterpiece is also testament to the ancient local practice, used since the third millennium BC, of forming ashlars from local quarries with which to build and decorate. This building process has carried Porcuna’s name across the world. Located on Paseo de Jesús. (Location)
Museo Arqueológico de Porcuna
The Archaeological Museum of Porcuna, previously called the Obulco Archaeological Museum, is situated within Torre de Boabdil. The museum has been a long work in progress; the Association of Friends of Obulco and the Town Hall of Porcuna campaigned for the creation of the museum in 1968. The Ministry of Education and Science created the Municipal Archaeological Museum of Obulco in the Torre de Boabdil by Order of December 14, 1976. After the works of conditioning the building, the museum was inaugurated on December 27, 1980. The museum’s exhibits are distributed over two floors, the first for collections of prehistory and the Iberian world, and the second for Hispano-Roman culture. The terrace houses a room dedicated to local sites and monuments. In 1998, two new rooms were created; one in the Town Hall’s Patio de Cristales, dedicated to photographs and archaeological interpretation, and another in the Cerrillo Blanco Archaeological Park. (Location)
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Parque Arqueológico de Cerrillo Blanco
The settlement of Cerrillo Blanco is an extraordinary place to understand not only the importance of the Iberian “oppidum” of Porcuna, but also the history of Alta Andalucía and the entire Iberian world in general. The sculptural ensemble located in this settlement is by far the most important and monumental that Iberian archeology has provided and is the key to understanding this culture at the time of its full consolidation, during the fifth century BC. This sculptural group is in the Provincial Museum of Jaén. Other Iberian pieces are exhibited in the Municipal Archaeological Museum of Porcuna. Located north of Porcuna, off the JV-4401. (Location)
Fuente del Comendador
An easily accessible fountain of natural spring of water. Located 2km northeast of Porcuna, off the JV-2041.
Llano de Alharilla
A large grove with a magnificent picnic area with the Ermita de Virgen de Alharilla. Located 4km northeast of Porcuna, off the A-305.
The craft of saddlery used to provide harnessing and rigging for the horses used in agricultural holdings. The trade formerly used hardly any leather, since its practitioners worked with rye straw and tarpaulins to make packs, ramparts, batts and muzzles. The last saddler in Jaén is Benjamín Casado, from Porcuna, who today splits his time between this traditional craft and making awnings and tarpaulins. He works to continue his father’s workshop, established in 1914, and offers products such as chaps and tobacco pouches as well as the traditional range.
Pyrotechnics, the trade of making elements for fireworks such as flares, rockets and stars, is also carried out in Porcuna, using zinc and iron and steel filings, as well as salts to achieve the color tones.
The stone of Porcuna is still extracted and crafted. The best known stonemason of the family saga has been Antonio Aguilera Ruedas, the architect of the impressive Casa de la Piedra. Currently, the workshop is run by Francisco Aguilera de Dios, who alongside his training as a stonemason boasts a solid track record as a designer, sculptor and artist. His workshop is therefore crucial to the upkeep of this ancient trade.
The gastronomy of Porcuna embodies the very best of traditional countryside cooking, halfway between the stews of Jaén and those of Córdoba, and always has olive oil as the essential ingredient. Try local dishes such as gazpacho al melón (cold melon soup), moje de boquerrones (anchovies) and guitarra (aubergine and bean stew). Sweet treats include gallina en leche (cinnamon cake), galletas fritas (deep fried custard sandwiches), roscos (doughnuts) and pestiños (honey pastries).
Popular festivals in Porcuna are Día de San Benito, Virgen de la Cabeza, Romería de la Virgen de Alharilla, Verbena de San Lorenzo and Feria Real. More>
Cambus bus company provide a five a day return bus service between Porcuna and Jaen city bus station, and a four a day return service between Porcuna and Cordoba city bus station. More>
The weather forecast for the next few days for Porcuna. More>
The tourist office of Porcuna is located in the town hall. (Location)
The neighbouring villages to Porcuna are Arjona, Torredonjimeno and Santiago de Calatrava.