Route through the most charming villages of Córdoba

The Romans who settled in the nearby Patricia Corduba neighborhood, capital of the province of Hispania Ulterior Baetica, were not wrong.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
17 March 2023 Friday 23:52
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Route through the most charming villages of Córdoba

The Romans who settled in the nearby Patricia Corduba neighborhood, capital of the province of Hispania Ulterior Baetica, were not wrong. It did not go unnoticed by the Umayyad caliphs either. The Christian troops of Fernando III also discovered the wealth and strategic importance of the area. At present, Cordoba's Subbética continues to be a claim and a fascinating territory with great resources.

This beautiful and unknown region, which has a total of fourteen municipalities, is located in the heart of Andalusia. Its privileged location has been a witness to those who preceded us. The result? The imprint of the numerous peoples and civilizations that have passed through its beautiful landscapes, throughout history, is still visible in the great monumental and gastronomic legacy of Cordoba's Subbética.

In addition to its cultural and culinary importance, the region also stands out for its rich environmental heritage. Its great jewel is undoubtedly the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park, recognized by Unesco as a Geopark due to its exceptional landscape and biological value. A route through this beautiful region is therefore the ideal option to enjoy the conjunction between nature, history and gastronomy of the picturesque towns of Subbética.

The Jewish community called it Eliossana. Its cultural and architectural importance was such that, over time, it became known as the Pearl of Sepharad. It is no coincidence that it housed the Academy of Talmudic Studies, through which philosophers of the stature of Maimonides passed. Later, the Almohads of Qurṭuba called it Al Yussana. Currently, the captivating Lucena is the capital of Cordoba's Subbética.

The different cultures that inhabited the city are evident in its excellent historical and monumental heritage. Among the main vestiges, the Jewish necropolis stands out, located on the outskirts of the municipality. Another essential visit is the Castillo del Moral, a fortress of Andalusian origin that houses the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Lucena.

Although to perceive the historical residue of the city -which belongs to the Network of Jewish Quarters of Spain-, it is best to get lost among the narrow streets of its historic center. It is precisely there, in its old town, where if one stops one can still hear the lament of the Jewish poet Abraham ben Meir ibn Ezra after the Almohad invasion: "The tears in my eyes, like the tears of an ostrich, are for the city of Eliossana ; free of blemishes, apart there dwelt the captive community”.

Just fifteen minutes by car separate Lucena from Cabra, the main gateway to the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park. This beautiful protected space, belonging to the European geoparks network, is one of the great environmental treasures of the southernmost area of ​​the province of Córdoba.

The natural park has numerous paths and hiking trails that allow you to discover its great variety of holm oaks, brooms or rosemary. In fact, a path starts from Cabra towards the viewpoint of the Subbéticas mountains. The path then continues to the karstic depression of La Nava. This entire area is also dominated by various birds of prey, such as golden eagles, griffon vultures and peregrine falcons.

Leaving from Cabra, a short journey to the south allows you to reach the streets of Rute in just half an hour. This town in Cordoba's Subbética, one of the southernmost in the province, is known as the town of Christmas. And it is not for less, since the municipality houses three irresistible museums dedicated to chocolate, anise and sugar: the essential ingredients of the region's Christmas sweets.

Every Christmas, hundreds of tourists flock to Rute to visit the world's largest chocolate nativity scene. How could it be otherwise, this colossal work is exhibited in the museum dedicated to cocoa. From the paving of the streets to the figures, passing through the buildings or the animals, all the details of this sweet nativity scene are irresistible.

But the town lives not only on Christmas pastries. The municipality is also known for its cold cuts and sausages. Such is his fame that even Miguel de Cervantes himself came to point out in his work El casamiento engañoso: "... if he suffers convalescence, a few slices of Rute ham will save us."

Adjacent to Rute, from which it is barely a quarter of an hour away, the municipality of Iznájar is the southernmost town in Cordoba's Subbética. One of the great attractions of the town is undoubtedly its homonymous reservoir, which allows you to kayak and practice other rowing sports. In addition, it serves as an inland beach in the hot summer months.

The Iznájar reservoir is not, however, its only attraction. It is also worth visiting its colorful Patio de las Comedias, a beautiful square decorated with geraniums whose name comes from the stage plays that used to be performed in this place. In turn, it is an old medieval souk that currently retains a very special charm.

Social networks have also contributed to popularize one of the most unique and visited corners of the colorful courtyard. It is the Rincón del Beso, one of the most photogenic places in the region. Of course, it is not surprising that many couples come to this corner to immortalize their love with a beautiful snapshot.

The eastern area of ​​Subbética also has beautiful municipalities where it is worth stopping. From Iznájar, a good alternative is to head north towards the east of the region. There is Priego de Córdoba, one of the towns that make up the so-called route of the Caliphate.

The castle of Priego is one of the main vestiges of the Andalusian past of the Cordoba town. Its privileged location, between the domains of the Crown of Castile and the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, made this bastion a strategic place. Although it was not the only border enclave in the region.

It is no coincidence that the Municipal Museum of Luque, the northernmost town in Cordoba's Subbética, is called Tierra de Fronteras. Christians and Muslims fought for a territory of which the Andalusian castle of the town was a great witness. This fortress is popularly known as El Venceaire because it is located on top of a hill that dominates the entire municipality, and like Priego, it is also part of the Caliphate route.

The armed conflicts that used Luque as a battlefield are not limited to the Middle Ages. On the outskirts of the town it is currently possible to visit the area of ​​El Alamillo, where several bunkers from the Spanish Civil War are still preserved. The shelters were built between late 1938 and early 1939, reinforcing an area of ​​vital strategic importance.

Andalusian border castles, reservoirs for practicing sports, chocolate nativity scenes... In short, Cordoba's Subbética has endless attractions that are worth discovering. You just need to decide to discover them. The famous Sephardic philosopher Maimónedes, who, as already mentioned, visited the region, went so far as to affirm that “the risk of making a wrong decision is preferable to the paralysis of indecision”.