by Saskia Mier
Villardompardo is situated to the west of the capital of Jaén, amongst extensive olive groves near the Salado de Los Villares River. It has about 970 inhabitants.
Before its conquest by Fernando III ‘El Santo’ in 1245, the town was a humble Arab farmhouse, sparsely populated and poorly defended, the inhabitants of which were more concerned with agriculture than battle. The King decided to cede it to one of his captains, Don Aznar Pardo, from whose name‘Villardompardo’ is derived, with the task of repopulating it and organising an adequate defensive system that would turn it into a protective enclave against the fortresses of strong Arab populations such as Arjona. More>
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Gracia
The church is formed by a single nave decorated with a seventeenth-century coffered ceiling, currently hidden by half-barrel domes from the mid-twentieth century. The tower is dated between the late fifteenth and earlysixteenth centuries, made in three parts; the first consisted of the baptistery crowned with a late Gothic vault;the second part was probably constructed towards the end of the seventeenth century (or early eighteenth); and the third part, dating from the nineteenth century, consisted of a belfry to crown the tower. Today, the tower is topped with a twentieth-century plasterwork dome, which references the Holy Land. It should be noted that the Última Contienda in Spain resulted in the loss of the seventeenth-century Renaissance altarpiece and the rest of the religious furnishings.Located on Calle San Francisco Asís. (Location)
Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Atocha
The chapel is a small templewhich, according to legend, was built on top of the hill where the Virgin appeared. The current image is a replica of the original, which was destroyed during the Civil War. Towards the eighteenth century, the chapelwas built on the remains of a cemetery. During the War, around 1936, the image was attacked; a rope was tied around its neck and it was dragged through the street. Later, the town of Villardompardo received a replica as a gift.It is believed that when you pray to her and ask for something, she looks at you and smiles.Located on Calle Virgen de Atocha. (Location)
THINGS TO SEE OUTISDE THE VILLAGE
Ermita de San Gema
The chapel was built in 1994 by Antonio Salazar Gay and Asunción Rísquez Pamos on the occasion of a promise of illness. The image of Santa Gema came from Gerona two years before the construction of the chapel; during that time the image remained in the couple’s house. Once completed, the chapel was inaugurated and blessed by the Priest who lived in the town at that time, Don Francisco Martínez Rojas. At present, the chapel is open on the fourteenth of each month,whenit is visited byits devotees. Located south of the town, off the JV-3414. (Location)
Charca de Pajarejos
This natural pond, which only forms after abundant rain, functions as a temporary humid ecosystem where variousaquatic birds nest. Located 5km from the town.
Vía Verde del Aceite
This vía verde (greenway) covers 55km between Jaén and the Guadajoz River, where it joins the Vía Verde of the Subbética. It is suitable for walkers, cyclists and wheelchair users.This routefollows part of the 120km-long Jaén-Puente Genil railway line used for transporting olive oil from the late nineteenth century onwards, linking Jaén with Málaga and Algeciras and opening up the market for oil. Dubbed the ‘tren de aceite’ (oil train), it facilitated the first bulk transportation of olive oil. The line also carried coal from the Belmez mine, as well as lead and other minerals from the mines in Linares, to the port in Málaga. However,the railway was unprofitable and closed in 1985.
In Villardompardo, furniture made to order is still a popular craft. The best examples of local cabinetry are made in the classic Spanish style, with a Renaissance air, and similar to the furniture that characterized Granada in the first half of the twentieth century. Among the different woods used are beech and chestnut.
When visiting Villardompardo, try local dishes such as poza (bread and oil eaten with cod and olives), ensalada de alcauciles (artichoke salad), migas (breadcrumbs fried with chorizo) and aceite y viangre (tomato, orange, egg and tuna salad). Sweet treats include roscos de sartén (doughnuts), gusanillos (sweet pastries) and bizcochos de la princesa (muffins).
Popular festivals in Villardompardo are San Antón, Semana Santa, Romería de San Isidro and Fiestas Patronales.More>
The neighbouring villages to Villardompardo are Escañuela, Fuerte del Reyand Torredelcampo.
Ayuntamiento de Villardompardo, Plaza de la Constitución, 1 (Location)