by Saskia Mier
Marchena is surrounded by undulating cereal fields and olive groves, well worth a visit for its collection of paintings by one of Spain's finest seventeenth century artists, Francisco de Zubarán from Extremadura, along with other religious art.
Marchena was founded in 169 BC, known then as "Martia", in a period of peace between the Punic wars. The Romans exploited the area agriculturally, with the Moors later developing the urban walled nucleus in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. It passed into Christian hands in the mid-thirteenth century, during the reign of Fernando III El Santo, becoming a Royal village until Fernando IV granted it Lordship to the Ponce de León family. The real name of the population comes from a decree of the Catholic Monarchs.
During the medieval Christian period (fourteenth and fifteenth centuries), the Arab city was reused, houses were renovated, the walls were rebuilt, the Alcazaba was transformed into an authentic stately castle and works were carried out in the Palacio Ducal. From the end of the fifteenth century to the beginning of the nineteenth century, Marchena had several entrances, which connect with the main exit roads.
At the end of the nineteenth century, construction of the railway, improvement of the roads and the incipient industrialization allow an economic recovery to occur. In these years the so-called Camino de la Estación was created towards the northwest forming the residential settlements of the 60s.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de San Juan Bautista
The architecture of the church is from the Catholic Monarchs, that is, Mudejar Gothic style with some Renaissance ornaments. It houses paintings by Alejo Fernández and the magnificent organ, work of Francisco Rodríguez, disciple of the renowned organ builder Jorge Bosch, made in 1802. The municipal museum is also located here, with several sculptures by Alonso Cano, treasure of the Francisco Alfaro church and nine paintings by Zurbarán. Located in Plaza Cardenal Spínola.
Iglesia de Santa María de la Mota
The Gothic and Mudejar church was built in the sixteenth century, symbolizing the union of Christian and Islamic cultures. It is also home to the Convento de la Inmaculada Concepción, founded by the Dukes of Arcos. The sisters produce many sweets and pastries including almond fruits and traditional pestiños. Located on Calle Palacio Ducal.
Iglesia de San Agustín
The church was built in the second half of the eighteenth century. The interior has decoration of religious themes and geometric and vegetal elements carved in plaster. The façade has schemes typical of Madrid's architecture in the first half of the seventeenth century. Located on Calle San Agustín.
Iglesia de San Sebastián
The church was built outside the walled enclosure and at first it was used as a hermitage for the veneration of the Patron of Marchena. It was demolished in the eighteenth century due to its ruinous state. Located on Calle Obispo Salvador Barrera.
Convento de Santa Isabel
The current Real Colegio de Santa Isabel (School) and the previous Colegio Jesuita de la Encarnación were founded by the Dukes of Arcos, Luis Cristobal Ponce de Leon (II Duke of Arcos) and his wife, Doña Maria de Toledo. Construction began in 1556, concluding thirty-two years later, in 1588. Traces of the church were made by the then master of the Cathedral of Seville, Martín de Gaínza, following the instructions of Jesuit Bartolomé de Bustamante. Located on Calle Compañía.
Iglesia de San Miguel
The Mudejar church was built in the fifteenth century and has undergone important reforms, especially during the eighteenth century. The tower was built around 1964. Located on Calle Sevilla.
The walls were created during the Middle Ages for the purpose of defence and protection. You will scattered across the village, parts of the remains of the walls mixed in between the village houses. Also seen are the various tower entrances of the village, known as Puerta de Morón, Puerta de Sevilla (Arco de la Rosa), Puerta de Carmona, El Portillo, Puerta de Écija, and Puerta de Osuna.
The Palace was once the alcazaba in the walled inner enclosure. During the Late Middle Ages and part of the Modern Age, the Islamic alcazaba was transformed into a palace, home to one of the most important noble houses in Castile. The earthquake of 1552 and the tastes and needs of, Duke Luis Cristóbal Ponce de León, give rise to a Renaissance restoration. Located on Calle Palacio Ducal.
Museo Lorenzo Coullaut Valera
The museum was inaugurated in 1990 dedicated to the work of sculptor, Lorenzo Coullaut Valera, who was born here in 1876. The exhibited works, acquired in that same year by the Town Hall came from of the collection that a grandson of the sculptor kept at his home in San Sebastián, and consist largely of sketches that the artist made before the execution of a sculpture or final monument. Located within Puerta de Morón on Calle San Francisco.
Saturday and Sunday, 11:00-14:00hrs
Tel: 955 84 61 67
Museo de Zurbarán
The museum is composed of nine religious canvases, commissioned in 1634 and delivered in 1637. The most interesting canvases are the Inmaculada and the Crucificado. There are also a series of miniature books from the fifteenth century and the second third of sixteenth century. Located within the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista.
Visits must be scheduled in advance.
Tel: 955 84 61 67
The gastronomy found in Marchena is very much described as the typical Mediterranean diet. Dishes to try include cocido Marchenero (stew), espinacas (spinach), gazpacho, sopa de tomate (tomato soup) and bacalao (cod). All dishes accompanied by homemade bread and local olive oil. Sweet treats include tartas de hojaldre (tarts), tortas de manteca (torts) and frutitas de mazapán con almendra y carne membrillo (marzipan fruits) made by the sisters of the Convent.
A popular craft still produced in Marchena is wood carving, specifically using olive.
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Celebrated in February.
Cruces de Mayo
Celebrated in May.
Festival de Flamenco
Celebrated the last week of July.
Celebrated the first weekend of September.
Festividad de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
Celebrated the first Sunday of October.
Concurso Nacional de Colombianas
Celebrated in November and December.