by Saskia Mier
Utrera is a large agricultural town set in the middle of olive groves, sunflowers and cereal cultivation. It is considered to be one of the principal grain-producing regions in Spain and is also in the heart of a cattle-rearing region, where toros (fighting bulls) are bred. It has about 52, 600 inhabitants.
The exact origin of the town is unknown, however, abundant archaeological remains reflect human presence during the Neolithic era. There are also remains from eras such as Phoenician, Tartessian, Turdetano, etc, which were all witnesses of the intense trade that took place in the area during these periods.
The first news of Utrera correspond to its Roman past, the Sewer bridge in particular, which linked the stretch of the Bética with the North, through what was called Vía Augusta. There are two Necropolises in the town centre; one dating from the third to second century BC, and another from the third to fourth centuries. Tomb remains of Christian eschatology confirm Visigothis settlements. There is little evidence of Moorish Utrera, however a feature of this era is the Iglesia de Santa María.
In the year 1253, when Alfonso X carried out the repartimiento of his land, Utrera had not been more than a farmhouse with a tower of protection. Eventually it was repopulated (among them a notable Jewish colony) and transformed the tower into a castle. During the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Utrera became a strategic military point of first order linked to the avatars of the Christian frontier against the Moors.
After the Re-conquest in the sixteenth century and the middle of the seventeenth century, many noble houses and monuments were built along with a regular water supply. In 1570, it became the first population of the prosperous Kingdom of Seville with Felipe II. Effects of the bubonic plague of 1649 left the population decimated. During the eighteenth century, the town was repopulated, only to suffer again during the War of Independence and the occupation of French troops.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia de Santa María de la Mesa
The medieval church has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest as a Historic-Artistic Monument since 1979. It was reformed in 1401 and later in the sixteenth century, mixing Gothic and Renaissance styles. It has an impressively elaborate portal, Puerta del Perdón, and a beautiful tower, partly designed by Hernán Ruiz, with a Baroque belfry. Located in Plaza Porche de Santa María.
Iglesia de Santiago el Mayor
The Gothic church dates from the fourteenth century. Later, it was restored with a Renaissance dome, and Baroque and Neoclassical chapels. Located on Calle Ruiz Gijón.
Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Consolación
This chapel is home to the Patron Saint, and is of classicist Baroque style. It was built in the first third of the seventeenth century, on a chapel of the sixteenth century. In 1561, the Order of Minims took over the chapel, built its monastery attached to it and later the chapel that is currently observed. It was declared a historical-artistic monument in 1982. Located on Paseo de Consolación.
Convento de la Purísima Concepción
The convent was founded in 1577 by, Francisco Álvarez de Bohórquez, and his wife, Catalina de Coria. In this cloistered convent are the nuns of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. Located on Calle Ponce de León.
Convento de las Hermanas de La Cruz y Capilla de los Dolores
Built in the second quarter of the eighteenth century. Attached to this convent is the Chapel Los Dolores, whose elliptical floor is one of the few examples of this type in Sevillian baroque architecture. Located on Calle Santa Ángela De La Cruz.
Other religious monuments worth seeing are; Hospital de la Santa Resurreción (1514), Capilla de San Francisco (1645), Capilla de Nuestra Señora del Carmen (1881), Capilla de la Santísima Trinidad (1723), Capilla de San Bartolomé (1597) and Basílica de El Palmar de Troya (twentieth century).
The Castle has been declared a Site of Cultural Interest and a Historic-Artistic Monument since 1985, built by the Council of Seville on the remains of an Arab tower. In 1368 it was destroyed by Muhammed V of Granada and later rebuilt at the end of the fourteenth century. Since the end of the fifteenth century it has been abandoned. Located on Calle la Fuente Vieja.
Casa Cuartel de la Guardia Civil
The building is a construction of Castilian style from 1577. Originally, it was cavalry barracks, built by the Cabildo during the reign of Felipe II. Later it served as a barracks house for the Guardia Civil. At present it has been restored and rehabilitated for housing. Located in Plaza Virgen de la Cabeza.
A manor house of Sevillian style from 1783. Currently in a ruinous state and not open for visits. Located on Calle María Auxiliadora.
Teatro Municipal Enrique de la Cuadra
The theatre was built between September 1885 and January 1887 by order of, Don Enrique de la Cuadra, designed in Italian style. It was rehabilitated in 1993 for public use under the direction of architect, Juan Ruesga Navarro. There is a small art gallery situated above the Teatro Municipal Enrique de la Cuadra which holds many exhibitions throughout the year. Located on Calle Sevilla.
Casa de Cultura
The Palace House of Los Marqueses de Tous dates from the eighteenth century and houses the tourist office, and holds traditional and contemporary art exhibitions. Located on Calle Rodrigo Caro.
Monday-Saturday, 11:00-13:00hrs and 17:00-20:00hrs.
Tel: 955 860 931
It is also worth visiting the Casa Consistorial (Town Hall), Niño Perdido, Fuente de Ocho Cantos, Antiguo Cuartel de Caballería, Torres de Molino and Casas Solariegas.
CRADLE OF FLAMENCO
The towns of Utrera and Lebrija, however, are way off the average tourist's route and remain somewhat undiscovered, but if one was to venture into the countryside that surrounds Seville, one would find that the traditional gypsy flamenco tradition is thriving: these towns are among the few places where orthodox flamenco is performed on a daily bases. More>
Just outside Utrera is the Utrera Natural Reserve, a series of lakes noted for their wildlife, especially birds. Also worth a visit are Salinas de Valcargado and Embalse de Torre de Aguíla.
PLACES TO STAY
Places to stay in Utrera include the two-star Veracruz (Calle Corredera, tel: 955 865 252) in a restored eighteenth century mansion or, if you fancy splashing out, the five-star Hotel Cortijo Soto Real, on a country estate outside Utrera on the Las Cabezas de San Juan-Villamartin road, Km13 (tel: 955 869 200).
HOW TO GET TO UTRERA
Train from Seville - Utrera is easily accessible by train, and the short journey from Seville will take approximately twenty-minutes. Book train online
Train from Malaga - From the Maria Zambrano station in Málaga, changing at Dos Hermanas near Seville. Trains run fairly regularly and the journey takes a little over two hours. The train from Dos Hermanas to Utrera runs every thirty minutes during peak hours, and the journey takes just ten minutes.
Bus - There is also a bus service from Seville.
|Timetable for the five local urban bus routes in Utrera|
The gastronomy of Utrera consists of a variety of traditional Andalusian dishes such as guiso de cola de toro (oxtail stew), potaje andaluz (Andaluz stew), puchero (meat stew with chickpeas and noodles), cocido de garbanzos (chickpea stew), habichuelas blancas (white beans) and guiso de caracoles (snail stew). Sweet treats include mostachones, bizcotelas, lenguas de nata and brazo de gitano.
Local handicrafts still produced in Utrera are bronze sculpturing, esparto and even paper making.
The 17th-century poet, Rodrigo Caro, was born in Utrera and is most well known for his poem on the Roman ruins of Italica.
Cabalgata Reyes Magos
Three Kings procession celebrated on the evening of 5 January.
Celebrated in February.
Día de Andalucía
Celebrated the 28 Febuary.
Feria de la Tapa
Celebrated in March.
Virgen de Consolacíon
Celebrated the 1 May.
Celebrated the first week of May.
Certamen Nacional de Pintura "Ciudad de Utrera"
Art conference celebrated in May.
Romería de Fátima
Celebrated around the 13 May.
Celebrated the 24 June.
Named after a dish popular in Andalusia - in this case, the Gypsy's Stew. Established in 1957 by the town's gypsies and dedicated to the cante (singing), the festival is held on the last Saturday in June every year.
Feria de Consolacíon
Celebrated the 8 September.