MAIRENA DEL ALCOR
by Saskia Mier
Mairena del Alcor holds the well known, Festival de Cante Jondo Antonio Mairena, which has been celebrated here since 1962, and has become one of the most important in all of Andalusia. Many artists and flamenco lovers come here to take part in the celebrations. It has about 23, 000 inhabitants.
Prehistoric sites suggest the continued occupation of the area since the final Paleolithic period. Later, in the Neolithic era, small settlements were established to exploit the agricultural wealth of the valley. There are also abundant remains of the beginning of the Metal Ages and Bronze Age. The Phoenician and Greek colonies had a huge influence on the development of agriculture and trade in metals and ceramics.
The Romans established many of the buildings still standing today and exploited the fertile lands of the valley, to which the Visigoths and Moors took on. The Moors built a watchtower for surveillance, defence and communication. It is believed the name of Mairena is of Arab descent, deriving from Maharana, meaning "water from the source". Mairena del Alcor fell under the Castilian power of King Fernando III El Santo in 1246, and both the tower and village of Luchena were donated to the Order of Calatrava.
In 1342, Alfonso XI of Castile donated it to Pedro Ponce de Leon, Lord of Marchena, for the services rendered during the siege of Algeciras, which began in 1342 and ended in 1344. Towards 1470, Rodrigo Ponce de León, Marquis of Cadiz, extended the castle of Mairena, constructing the outer walls, moat and fire hydrants.
The town experienced an important growth due to the Discovery of America. The crisis of the seventeenth century affected Mairena greatly but recovered greatly by the end of the eighteenth century. The French army occupied Mairena in the War of Independence. At the end of the nineteenth century, the English archaeologist, George Bonsor, bought the castle in 1902 and rebuilt it as a private residence. He created an archaeological collection from his excavations in the area.
THINGS TO SEE
The Palace of the Dukes of Arcos, built in Mudejar style, served as a private residence and store of agricultural products and implements and dates back to the beginning of the fifteenth century. Currently, Casa Palacio responds to a Sevillian manor from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, equipped with a magnificent auditorium for 5000 people and the rest of the rooms will become the future Centre of Flamenco Studies "Antonio Mairena". Located on Calle Real.
Fuente de Alconchel
A fountain restored in 1890, with seven bronze pipes that pour its potable waters.
Originally its water was collected by a gallery or mine under the road called Las Minas, to join the waters of Fuente Gorda, powering the four flour mills. Located on Calle Ancha.
At the entrance of house number 40, there are two brick arches built above the original walls of village. Located on Calle Ancha.
Capilla del Cristo de la Carcel
The chapel dates to the end of the seventeenth century, and was built onto the next door prison. Over time it has undergone several restorations, some of them being quite important. The first was in 1920, a second one in 1950 and later in the 1970s. The last reformation was in the 1990s, fixing the serious problems of humidity and some decorative elements. Located in Plaza de Antonio Mairena.
Ermita de San Sebastián
The Mudejar chapel dates to the fifteenth century. The roof is composed of Arabic tiling and the outside façade has tiled ornaments allusive to the Brotherhoods that reside in it. Located on Plaza San Sebastián.
The church dates to the fifteenth century, with the bell tower and sacristy being built during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Baroque altarpiece dates to the eighteenth century. Located on Calle Real.
Iglesia de María Inmaculada
The church was completely rebuilt in 1992, with only the original façade remaining. Located on Calle Amor de Dios.
Mausoleo Anotonio Mairena
The set consists of four bronze figures and was created in 1984, but later restored in 2008. Four pillars, three ceramic landscapes and the bronze shields of Andalusia, Seville and Mairena form the overall image of Antonio and his mother. Located in Cementerio San José.
Monumento a Cervantes
Monument made by Jesús Gavira Alba in 1961 dedicated to the famous writer, Miguel de Cervantes, with the quote of his work "el coloquio de los perros" where he mentions the town of Mairena del Alcor. Located in Plaza de Cervantes.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Castillo de Luna
The castle began as a defensive bastion of the Ibero-Turdetanos, back in the fifth century AC, eventually becoming a watch tower "Turris Annivalis" with the Carthaginians, 200 years later. Later, the Romans expanded the enclosure, acting as a defensive territory against the Barbara invasions. The Moors later used it as an Alcazaba, expanding the construction by providing a second defensive line. Some reforms were also carried out in the interior between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The castle, then known as Cazaba de la Frontera, has great strategic-defensive importance from the middle of the thirteenth century until the end of the fourteenth century. Later, it was ceded to the Military Order of Calatrava by Alfonso X. Located on the SE-458.
Mairena del Alcor is a great place for walkers to enjoy some lovely routes. Look for Ruta del Compás del Tres por Cuatro, Los Cantes Básicos and Ruta de las Grandes Figuras, all routes that pass from Seville to Malaga.
When visiting Mairena del Alcor, try the picadillo de naranja, a very different dish served as a light summer salad made with oranges, egg, onion, garlic and tuna. Also try ajo molinero (similar to salmorejo), pollo relleno (stuffed chicken) and conejos o perdices en guiso de almendra y vino (rabbit or partridge stewed with almonds and wine).
Ceramics and ironwork are still very much a popular craft in Mairena del Alcor.
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Celebrated in February.
Procesión del Santísimo Cristo del Cárcel
Celebrated the 18 March.
Celebrated in April.
Celebrated the first weekend of May.
Procesión de Virgen de los Reyes
Celebrated the 15 August.
Celebrated the 24 August.
Procesión de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Coronada
Celebrated the 8 September.
Festival de Cante Jondo Antonio Mairena (Interés Turístico de Andalucía)
Celebrated the first Saturday of Septemeber.
Romería de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Coronada
Celebrated the last Sunday of September.