|ceramic tiles, Coin © Michelle Chaplow|
Overview of Coín
Coín is situated in the fertile valley of the rio Grande and there is little doubt that a community of some kind existed on the spot long before the Roman conquest.
Nevertheless, it was the Romans who gave it the first name which has survived: Lacibis. It became a market town: a transition point for the minerals being quarried 5 kilometres or so to the south in the Sierra Blanca. Marble from these quarries was certainly used in the construction of the Roman town of Italica, which once stood close to Seville, and was the birthplace in 76AD of the future emperor, Hadrian. The quarrying of marble and the mining of iron ore went on well into the 19th Century.
During the time of the Visigoths, who supplanted the Romans as rulers of the peninsula, the town lost its lustre and appears to have been deserted and left to fall into ruin. By the time that the Moors resettled and rebuilt it around 929AD virtually all of its Roman heritage had been lost, and what little was left disappeared in the rebuilding.
1485 was a momentous year in the region. The Christian reconquest was in its final triumphant space, and village and towns fell to them like grass beneath the scythe. Coín was taken after a siege in which, legend will tell you, no less a person than Christopher Columbus took part.
|Coin, Santa Maria Convent|
A certain Captain S. E. Cook of the Royal Navy visited Coín, along with Cártama and Alhaurín in 1829, and was mightily impressed. "These villages", he wrote, "are on rising ground above the river and in beauty of situation and cultivation cannot be excelled. They afford a specimen of the whole country when possessed by the Moors, being surrounded by gardens with orange, lemon and palm trees and abounding in all the fine as well as the more common fruits." To this day an orange tree features on Coín's coat of arms.
One of the most picturesque, yet sombre places in Coín is the shrine of Nuestra Señora de Fuensanta. The beautifully preserved chapel stands on top of a hill beside the ground which is used for the annual fair. The situation and views are magnificent, but the sombre note is struck by the now abandoned house which stands close by in a field. In 1893 it was the site of a brutal murder in which the local priest was shot by intruders who believed him to have hidden away a cache of money. The story of the crime and its aftermath were told in Bartolomé Abelenda's book, The Coín Crime.
Coín is a town which has only lately woken up to the realisation that it has a story to tell. In early 1999 the local Department of Culture embarked on a project to decorate some of the town walls with illustrated tiles depicting episodes in its history. Whether these will perpetuate the Columbus legend remains to be seen. What is unlikely is that it will remind the world that it was chosen by the BBC as the setting for its spectacularly unsuccessful soap opera, Eldorado.
The above text was kindly provided by David Wood, who with Chris Wawn is co-author of the book "In Search of Andalucia".
Local authorities run an art gallery in the Casa de la Cultura Blas Infante, in calle Manuel Garcia. Open Monday to Friday from 10.00 to 13.00 and 17 00 to 20.00 and Saturday 17.00 to 20.00.