Cordoba Province - Baena

Baena boasts many fine monuments and produces superb olive oil ©Michelle Chaplow
Baena boasts many fine monuments and produces superb olive oil

BAENA

As well as being a beautiful town, Baena is also an excellent base for exploring the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park. Anyone keen on walking in these Sierras should try to get hold of the CNIG 1:500,000 map, Parque Natural Sierras Subbéticas. The town is also well-known for its Holy Week celebrations, when rival teams of hundreds of drummers compete to make the most noise, leading to an ear-splitting cacophony of up to 2,000 drums being struck simultaneously. The town has around 19,300 inhabitants.

HISTORY

There are numerous archaeological testaments to human settlement in the area since prehistoric times, including remains from the Metal Age and the so-called Leone de Baena, an Iberian sculpture preserved in the National Archaeological Museum. This was found on the hill of Minguillar, believed once to have been Iponoba, the Iberian city cited by Pliny the Elder.

The town's current location possibly stems from the Muslim occupation. During the ninth century, the town was taken by the rebel Muladí Umar ben Hafsun, and in the following century, the citadel where the Governors of the Cora de Cabra resided was established. In 1240, the town was conquered peacefully by Fernando III El Santo, who gave it to his brother, the Infante Alfonso de Molina. The repossession of the fortress of Baena was later undertaken by Rodrigo Alfonso de León, the illegitimate son of Alfonso IX de León. During the reign of Muhamad II in Granada, Baena was besieged; five Christian knights fought and defeated five Mohammedans.

At the beginning of the fifteenth century, Diego Fernández de Córdoba was granted a Lordship over the town. Although a lawsuit was filed against him, he finally received the title in the middle of the century. The abolition of the Señoríos in the nineteenth century gave hope in favour of the redistribution of land; however, the lands were put up for sale and fell into the hands of the rich. Baena is now a significant reference in the production of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, with its own Denomination of Origin. It has excellent vineyards, included in the Montilla-Moriles Denomination of Origin, and an ample wealth of cereal lands.

THINGS TO SEE

Castillo
The castle dates to 910, when Emir Ahdullah built it as a defensive structure. In the thirteenth century, Fernando III ceded it to his brother Rodrigo Alfonso de León. In 1293 it was donated by Sancho IV, together with Luque and Zuheros, to the city of Córdoba. Subsequently, the castle was attacked by Mohamed, King of Granada in 1297. In 1401 the Castle was ceded by Henry III to the Marshal, Don Diego Fernandez de Córdoba. The Marshal, Lord of Baena, used the castle as his habitual residence towards 1456. Since the sixteenth century it has been used as the Palace of the Dukes. Despite its seemingly impregnable walls, various structural alterations have lead to some of the castle's most outstanding features, including arches and doorways, as well as the substantial compartmentalization of the building into spaces for both gentlemen and their servers, such as domestic rooms and covered portico courtyards. Today, it still has part of its original walls and three of the four towers, known respectively as; El Secreto, Los Cascabeles and the Cinco Esquinas or Las Arqueras. The castle is located on Plaza Palacio.

Arco de la Villa
The corridor that connects the town with the convent is well-preserved, and leads from the main archway of the town walls, on Calle Arco de la Villa.

Museo de la Semana Santa
The Holy Week Museum opened to the public in the summer of 2018, installed in the "Casa de la Condesa". It has since been made the Headquarters of the Holy Brotherhoods. The building has been refurbished and cataloged in the General Urban Plan (PGOU) as a building under comprehensive protection. Access to and mobility around the building have been improved, including the addition of a block of toilets. The first floor is an exhibition space for different week-long collections, while on the second floor there is a meeting, archive and storage area for the Association of Brotherhoods. Adapting to new technologies, the Holy Week Museum uses an audiovisual format that allows visitors to immerse themselves in traditions. The museum is situated on Calle Mesones.

Opening Times:
Visits by appointment only.
Price: 1 euro
Tel: 957 69 16 39

Museo del Olivar y Aceite
The building which houses the Olive and Olive Oil Museum was a mill belonging to José Alcalá Santaella, until 1959. Most of the mill machinery inside dates to the middle of the nineteenth century. The museum covers just over 800m2, with an exhibition over two floors. There is also a library, an olive oil store with large metal tanks and a room where visitors can learn about the history and evolution of olive groves in Baena. A workshop is equipped with several exhibition spaces that show the use of oil as a source of heat, light, electricity and food, as well as its dietary and medicinal properties, the symbolic importance of the olive tree, and a collection of proverbs. At the end, visitors can enjoy a tasting of the Baena Designation of Origin oils. Located on Calle Cañada.

Opening Times:
Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, 10.30-14:00hrs.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10.30-14:00 and 17:00-20:00hrs.
Price: 2 euros
Tel: 957 69 16 41

Museo Histórico y Arqueológico Municipal
The collections of the Museum include paleontological and archaeological remains, some found by chance and others during archaeological excavations. There are remains from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, including the Metal Age, the Orientalising Age and the Iberian, Roman and Visigoth times. One of the important items on show is the Iberian lion, the Leone de Baena. The museum can be found on Calle Santo Domingo Henares.

Opening Times:
Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, 10.30-14:00hrs.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10.30-14:00 and 17:00-20:00hrs.
Open on public holidays.
Price: 2 euros

Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor
This church was built in the fourteenth century, in a flamboyant Gothic style. There are some references to a major mosque on this site during the seventh century. The temple has three Plateresque portals; Puerta del Ángel, Santa Ana Capilla and Puerta del Perdón. Located on Plaza del Ángel.

Convento Madre de Díos
The Convent was founded in 1510 by the third Count of Cabra and its prioress was his daughter, Doña Juana Fernández de Córdoba. The building was erected on the ruins of other ancient buildings which had served as barracks for troops during the Moorish occupation. It can be visited on Calle Arco de la Villa.

Opening Times:
Friday and Saturday, 12:00-14:00hrs and 17:00-19:00hrs.
Sundays and Holidays, 12:00-14:00hrs.

THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE

Parque Arqueológico de Torreparedones
The Torreparedones Archaeological Park, also known as Torre de las Vírgenes and Castro el Viejo, is one of the most important archeological sites in the province of Córdoba. The most significant elements on the site are Roman buildings such as a necropolis, spas, and a market, as well as a medieval castle, a sixteenth-century chapel and an Iberian-Roman sanctuary. It also has a visitor reception center and a large car park, and can be found on Carretera A-3125, Km18.8.

Opening Times:
Wednesday-Monday and Public Holidays, 10:00-14:00hrs.
Price: 2 euros
Tel: 957 67 17 57

NATURAL AREAS

Baena is surrounded by some wonderful natural areas for visitors to explore. Discover the Embalse de Vadomojón, Lagunas de la Quinta y del Rincón Muerto, Puente de Piedra, Vía Verde de Baena, Parque Ramón Santaella and Parque de la Cañada.

HANDICRAFTS

Local crafts still produced in Baena include ceramics and ironwork.

GASTRONOMY

When visiting Baena, try dishes such as chorizo, morcón (cured meats), revoltillo Baenense (scrambled eggs and assorted vegetables), salmorejo (cold tomato and garlic soup), pitraque (typical countryside cold tomato soup), sopa de merluz (hake soup), empedraí­llo (rice, chickpeas, tomato stew), estofado de verduras (vegetable stew), guiso de habas (broad bean casserole), chicharra a la parrilla (grilled pork), pollo en salsa de almendras (chicken in almond sauce), zorzales en manteca (thrush stew), carnerete (potatoes in garlic sauce), ratones (fried pork kidneys and loin cooked in a broth), flamenquines (meat rolls stuffed with ham and cheese). Sweet treats include gachas de mosto con coscurrones (porridge with wine and croutons), torrijas (eggy bread), pestiños (honey pastries), madalenas de las monjas (muffins made in the Madre de Dios Convent), roscos de limón (aniseed and lemon biscuits), tortillas de Pascua (lard cakes), panetillos o panecillos de cortijo (traditional almond bun with orange slices, honey, and olive oil) and naranjas en salsa de aceite (oranges in oil). 

Festivals in Baena

Festivals that are popular in Baena are Cabalgata Reyes Magos, Día de Jesús, Carnaval, Virgen del Carmen, Romería Virgen de Fátima (Albendín), and Feria Real. More>

NEARBY PLACES

The neighbouring villages to Baena are Castro del Río, Doña Mencía and Alcaudete.

 

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