Published: October 11th 2009October 7th 2009
Corcoya Ermita de la Fuensanta
Built in 1660. The place where the legendary Jose Maria 'El Tempranillo' was pardoned.
With the busy streets of Rome far behind me I arrived in Seville on the 30th of September. My wonderfully chatty, and slightly crazy, Aunt Gaynor met me at the airport. :)
She whisked me back to her home in Corcoya which is a small village in the Seville region, it's only got around 450 residents! It's awesome to get the chance to see Spain from a locals perspective. (I figure if she's been here 4 years she must be something of a local by now.)
We walked up to the Ermita de la Fuensanta which is an Hermitage built in 1660. It was here that the legendary Jose Maria 'El Tempranillo' bandit was pardoned. Not only is the hermitage itself beautiful but the views of the countryside up on the hill are lovely. They grow a lot of green olives in this region so there are rows and rows of them marching across the surrounding hills. The townspeople have started harvesting them too. Sometimes by hand but sometimes with a big machine which shakes the trees. It's long hours and hard work and even though it's technichally Autumn here the weather is still generally between 25 and 32.
Early in my stay Gaynor and I headed to Estepa where we found the Montecados Museum at the La Estepeña biscuit factory. This is definitely the best place to go if you like high calorie, melt in your mouth buiscuits. Apparently a Spanish favourite, especially around Christmas. The little museum had this awesome display showing all the different stages of traditional manufacture. Unfortunately, now the process has been brought up to the 21st century and is done in factories (which they're very proud of!).
Next we wandered up to the Convento de Santa Clara where we could see all of the surrounding landscape. This particular area was very important because it offered an excellent view of any invading armies. You can see far into the distance because the area is fairly flat before it gets to the hills.
A few days later we visited the historical town of Antequera. It was baptised 'Antikaria' by the Romans but it's been around since neolithic times because of the religious importance of the La Peña rock formation. In the 7th century it was controlled by Islamic rulers. Finally the Christians reclaimed the city and it's now noted for its Baroque
splendour. I seem to be running into Baroque all over the place on this trip! And I definitely like it. We visited Museo Conventual de la Descalzas Antequera which was a church and museum. I found it facinating to see the differences between how the Spanish catholics decorate their churches compared to all those I saw in Italy. Where the Italians have a lot of marble sculptures the Spanish have much more delicate porcelain figures, often wearing proper little clothes. A number of the larger ones are paraded through the streets during various festivals.
It's also definitely worth walking up to Real olegia de Santa Maria la Mayor which is another church and on the way up are fantastic views of the town with it's spires and white buildings. In the town itself I especially liked the Estepa Gate and Antequera bull ring.
One of my highlights of the trip so far though has been the El Torcal National Park. It's got absolutely stunning limestone rock formations which reminded me of The Grand Canyon (minus the canyon) only in a light grey. It was the first territory in Andalusia which was made the equivalent of a national park
(and only in 1929! Time seems to move slower here). The rocks have horizontal layers because the area was under the sea one million years ago but were then pushed up by volcanic activity. Some of it was then worn by the wind over time. Gaynor and I had great fun making pictures out of the formations (like you do with clouds). We found a Sphinx, a Chinese Lion Dog, a monkey, a lion family, a big pigeon, a Jedi, the legs of ancient Egyptian kings and an eagle (we saw some real eagles, funnily enough, flying over the area too).
We spent another day exploring the Ardales National Park and some of its lagoons. Sadly most of the lagoons are dried up at the moment. There's an even bigger water shortage here than back home in Melbourne. They did have some large dams and lakes though. In summer people go to these 'inland beaches' in droves. There's also a lot of outdoor activities (like rockclimbing which we saw some people doing). It was in this area that we stopped for an unusual lunch of bread crumbs! The english translation of the menu said it was garlic bread with
Choritzo sausages (which I really like) so we each ordered one. What we got is actually Migas which is fried bread crumbs with garlic, eggs and the sausage mixed into it. Around the edges were samples of fruit and olives. I've noticed that a fair number of the English translations of things here get things a bit wrong. It's quite funny though. :)
Because I've been in smaller towns I've been lucky enough to try a fair bit of typical Spanish food. I've had membria which is a fruit from which you make a delicious quince jam dessert thing, Tapas (which means food with alcohol. It's a law here that if you buy beer they give you a small portion of food so you don't get too drunk), Porra (almost a dip kind of thing with garlic, capsicum, tomato, oil and a little salt, it's served cold with hard boiled egg and shredded serrano ham) eaten with the local bread as a starter. Keep an eye out for Menu Del Dia here also because you can get a lunch of usually three courses for a very good price!
So that's my (not so brief!) summary of what I've
A lunch of breadcrumbs
The english part of the menu said this was garlic bread with chorizo sausage. What we got is actually Migas which is fried bread crumbs with garlic, eggs and the sausage mixed into it. Not too bad actually but not quite what we'd expected!
been up to so far. It's definitely a beautiful region (and it's definitely essential to have a phrase book! I'm very lucky that Gaynor speaks good Spanish).
There are more photos below