by Saskia Mier
The northernmost settlement on the edge of the the Sierra del Norte Natural Park, Guadalcanal is a pretty village with several Mudéjar churches and a ruined medieval castle and walls. It has about 2800 inhabitants.
The first human settlements in these lands are related to the Paleolithic period. The Iberians and Romans built the route of Híspalis to Emérita that passed by Guadalcanal.
Its current name comes from the Arabic place name Guad-Al-Kanal. The very fortified town was taken by the Christian troops of the Military Order of Santiago. The castle was built on the Islamic Alcázar.
In 1241, the Knights of the Order of Santiago conquered the town for the Crown of Castile. During the Middle Ages the existing castle and walls was re-conquered by Don Rodrigo Iñiguez.
In July 2008, King Juan Carlos I granted Antonio Fontán Pérez, the first president of the Senate of Democracy and the title of Marquis of Guadalcanal.
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THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción
The Gothic-Mudejar church was built in the fourteenth century, later expanded in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but also features Baroque additions. Located in Plaza de España.
Iglesia de San Vicente
Privately owned church from the eighteenth century. Located on Calle Jurado.
Iglesia de Santa Ana
A Mudejar style church built at the end of the fifteenth century, later expanded and reformed in the eighteenth century. It was restored from 1997-1999. Located on Calle Santa Ana.
Iglesia de la Concepción
Church built in the eighteenth century and currently closed whilst undergoing restoration. Located on Calle Santiago.
A civil monument, the oldest in the Comarca, dating to 1307. Located on Calle Almona.
Convento del Espíritu Santo
The convent previously served as a school before serving as the chapel for the convent founded by Don Alonso González de la Pava. It was built in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Located on Calle Espíritu Santo.
Mercado de Abastos
The municipal market stands where the Iglesia de San Sebastián previously was. The Gothic-Mudejar church was built between the last quarter of the fifteenth century and the first of the sixteenth century, later expanding in the eighteenth century. Located on Calle Don Juan Campos.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Pozo Rico Silver Mine
In 1555 a Silver mine called Pozo Rico outside Guadalcanal was rediscovered. It soon became one of the most important Silver mines in Spain. Notable Royal concession holders included Fuggers (German Banking Family) and Lady Mary Herbert de Powis. The mine has been disused since 1914 and is only of interest to industrial archaeologists and very curios travellers. More>
Ermita de San Benito
The chapel is one of the most primitive examples of Mudejar art of the late fifteenth century. Remains of an ancient entrance and porch are still preserved due to the architectural function that they performed in the second constructive stage that this temple experienced during the eighteenth century. Located 1km from Guadalcanal on the A-432.
Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Guaditoca
The chapel was built in the year 1647 and the architectural decoration is executed based on Tuscan elements. The dressing room was added in 1718. Located 11km northeast from Guadalcanal.
When exploring the surroundings of Guadalcanal, one must not forget to visit the two magnificent viewpoints in the Sierra del Viento and Sierra del Agua, known as Mirador de la Capitana and Mirador de Hamapega, both located 8km from Guadalcanal. There are a couple of walking routes available for keen walkers, including, Ruta La Capitana of 8km in distance, Ruta del Pico Hamapega of 12km in distance and Sendero Sierra del Viento of 8km in distance. The most representative fauna are rabbits, hares, partridges, sparrows, thrushes and wild boars. The flora of the area is mainly composed of olive and oaks as well as scrub typical of the Mediterranean forest. In addition you can find aromatic or medicinal plants such as rosemary, thyme, camomile, fennel and oregano.
The gastronomy of Guadalcanal is very typical for a village in the Sierra, with predominantly meat dishes, in this case specifically lamb and pork. It is worth trying the caldereta (meat stew), rabada de cordero (lamb), cochinito frito (fried pork) and dishes made with game meats such as liebre con arroz (hare with rice) and judías con perdiz (beans with partridge).
As for sweet treats, try the gañotes (honey pastry), hojaldre (sweet puff pastry), bollitos de aceite (olive oil cakes), tortas de chicharrones (lard cakes) and rococó (almond biscuits).
Guadalcanal's handicrafts include baking, embroidery and forging. Baking is carried out by the women for the village for special events, as well as embroidery which is also produced by the local women in the form of shawls etc. Forging is still maintained in Guadalcanal thanks to Antonio Rafael Rincón Blanco who has continued a family tradition for 25 years at his factory.
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of the 5 January.
Celebrated in February.
Día de Andalucía
Celebrated the 28 February.
Holy Week during Easter.
Cruces de Mayo
Celebrated in May.
Fiestas en Honor a Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Celebrated the 16 July.
Cultural week celebrated in August.
Summer fair celebrated the last week in August.
Velada del Cristo
Celebrated during the last two weeks of September.
Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guaditoca
Celebrated in September.
Romeria de Nuestra Señora de Guaditoca
Pilgrimage celebrated twice a year, the last Saturday in April and the last Saturday of September.