Highlights of Villages & Small Towns of Cordoba province
In the Sierra Morena north of Cordoba city is a wild mountainous landscape where deer and wild boar roam the pine and oak forests. This region is little visited by tourists, but there are many rewarding places to explore here: from remote coal-mining towns in dramatic locations, such as Espiel and Bélmez, to a village with a dramatic history, Fuente Obejuna, where villagers staged an uprising against a cruel lord in the 15th century and publicly executed him, an event recreated in a famous Lope de Vega play named after the village.
The Guadalquivir valley runs east-west across Cordoba province, from neighbouring Jaen. The fascinating town of Montoro sits above a bend in the river, which is spanned by the mighty 16th-century Puente de las Donadas, a bridge that was 50 years in the making due to lack of funds. The local women sold their jewellery to raise the money to finish it. As well as being the gateway to the Sierra de Cardeña
y Montoro Natural Park to its north, the town is famous for its fine leather crafts and saddlemaking.
West of Cordoba city on the river bank is Almodóvar del Río overlooked by an imposing heavily restored castle.
Southern wine & olive route
The landscape south of Cordoba is dominated by endless undulating fields of olive groves and vineyards and many of its towns and villages are famous for their production of olive oil and wine. One such town is Baena, which makes excellent olive oil that you can buy at one of the town´s presses. Montilla is equally well known for its fine wines, named after the town, which you can sample at its bodegas.
Several towns noted for their wines and olive oil also boast some outstanding examples of Baroque architecture. By far the most famous of these and Cordoba´s leading town for Baroque churches is Priego de Cordoba, a prosperous olive-growing town with an exceptional number of impressive Baroque churches. Although lacking the immediate appeal of Priego de Cordoba, the extensive furniture showrooms enveloping the industrial town of Lucena hide a surprisingly high number of exquisite Baroque churches that are well worth a visit. Aguilar de la Frontera also produces olive oil and wine and has a striking octagonal square, Baroque monuments and a handful of elegant mansions.
Southeastern mountain villages
In the southeast of the province, close to borders of Jaen, Granada and Malaga, is the ruggedly beautiful Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park, with some of the province´s most attractive and unspoilt villages on its fringes.
Zuheros is a spectacularly sited whitewashed village on a cliffside, topped with a Moorish fortress from where there are superb views. Don´t miss the nearby limestone Cueva de los Murciélagos, which has many dramatic rock formations. Just east of Zuheros is Luque in a similarly stunning position, on a rocky crag crowned with a castle. On the western edge of the park is the charming village of Cabra, with many handsome churches, convents and mansions. Linking these villages is a spectacular walking and cycling route, once a railway line, called the Vía Verde of the Subbética.
South of the park is the pretty hilltop village of Iznajar that overlooks a reservoir of the same name.