Via Verde of the Hills

Via Verde - Hills

Starting in Alcalá de Guadaíra 14km south of Seville, this vía verde (greenway) covers 28km and ends in Carmona, running along the foot of a string of hills (alcores) after which the route is named. Dotted along the hills and located close to the greenway are several picturesque towns overlooking the fertile vega (plain).

The train using the railway linking Seville and Alcalá de Guadaíra was famously known as the Tren de los Panaderos (the Train of the Bakers). From the Middle Ages until the 1950s Alcalá de Guadaíra had many mills grinding wheat from the surrounding campiña (countryside) into flour and with the construction of the railway the town became the main supplier of Seville's bread.

Today, the town's bread legacy can be seen in its street names, such as Calle Hornero (Baker Street), Plaza del Pan (Bread Square) and Calle Molinero (Miller Street), as well as the many streets named after the town's watermills (molinos) that used to grind wheat into flour.

The railway line opened in 1883 and was the second to serve Carmona, the first terminating at the opposite end of Carmona to the north. In 1941 this second line was taken over by Renfe, closing 22 years later, except for a few kilometres between the industrial estate in Alcalá de Guadaíra and Seville that is still in operation for goods trains.

The Route

The route starts in the Paseo del Algarrobo in Alcalá de Guadaíra, next to the old bridge over the Guadaíra river and the Parque San Francisco. From this paseo there are superb views of the parks on either side of the river (Parque San Francisco and Parque Oromana) and of several watermills along the river. You can walk through the leafy Guadaíra park to the end, where there is a metal bridge over the river that crosses over to the showground (recinto ferial).

From the southern side of the showground is an attractive route along the Los Cercadillos and Molinos de Mairena tracks. The tracks follow the river valley south for about 3km, when you come to the A360 road to Morón de la Frontera. Cross over this road and continue along the track on the other side. This briefly runs alongside the A92 until you come to a bridge at Km 5 over the motorway. Once over this bridge, the route heads away from the A92.

At Km 6 close to the remains of a railway halt is Gandul castle. The vía verde skirts the Toruño hill and from this point there are magnificent views of the rolling campiña spreading out as far as you can see.

After a shallow descent you arrive at the site of Mairena del Alcor station, now no longer standing, at Km 12. Look out for the aqueduct that used to transport water to one of the mills in Mairena. The town itself is 1km away from the station and is worth the detour for its Mudéjar church, medieval castle and an elegant mansion (casa-palacio) built by the dukes of Arcos.

After Mairena, the vía verde continues for another 4km through olive groves towards El Viso del Alcor, which at Km 16.5 is roughly halfway along the route and the last town before Carmona, 12 km further on. Like Mairena, the town of El Viso is only 1km from the vía verde, so it's easy to make a short detour to explore its pleasant streets, lined with grand mansions and several interesting churches.

At Km 20 is the former halt for Alcaudete, which used to serve the extensive farm of the Cortijo de Alcaudete.

The station for Carmona is at Km 28 on the outskirts of town, which is perched on the top of a hill. With a great choice of tapas bars and restaurants, the walled town of Carmona makes a perfect stop at the end of the line. If you can muster the energy, don't miss exploring its impressive historic quarter, which is full of well-preserved Renaissance casa-palacios and Mudéjar churches. It also has a Moorish citadel with panoramic views and, on the edge of town, a Roman necropolis. If you want to stay the night, among the many hotels are a parador and the sumptuous Casa de Carmona, although budget options are limited.

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