This route will begin at the del Derribo Square (plaza), in front of the Church of Santiago (St. James'). We will climb the slope of Santa María, contemplating some architectonic examples of Seigniorial Houses.
The Church of Santa María del Águila is at the end of this slope. In this place we will also be able to enjoy the best views of Alcalá.
The following stop will be the Medieval Castle; we will go in through the Royal Gate to get to the Well's Yard. We will go though the "the tower between yards" that gives way to a second large room, called Patio de los Silos or Silos' Yard and from this point we will contemplate the Royal Palace or Alcázar.
In order to finish the route, we will go down by the (poor) quarter San Miguel.
|What do I need to know?|
|Parking||Parking Rotonda del Pan C/ San Francisco|
|Bus Stop||Line B urban buses. Duquesa de Talavera|
|Nearest Café||La Centenaria, C/ Ntra. Sra. del Águila (C/La Mina)|
|Description of the route on foot||Santa María del Águila St.
Ascending route with staircase (0,2 km)
Its foundations date back from 1500; it has Gothic plan with three naves covered with groin vaultsIt is a kind of vault made up by a series of arches or groins with structural function. The spaces generated between them are called webs, kind of curved panes with a secondary function, as fillers.. Another part is Neoclassical from the 18th century. The most outstanding elements are the paintings of its altarpieces. During our way to the following stop at Nuestra Señora del Águila, we can find exemplary views of Alcalá.
This church is in front of the square known as "Del Derribo".
It is important because of its architectonic characteristics. It is made up by three naves. The oldest one is the one of the ante-presbyterySpace inside a Catholic temple or cathedral before the Main Altar. (which makes us think about the closer Renaissance) and both sections in each of the side naves. The coffered vault dates back from the 16th century of the Main Chapel.
The naves of the body of the Church date back from the 18th century.
On July 19, 1936 the church caught fire, being Mr. Juan de Talavera, Sevillian architect, the person in charge of the reconstruction works. The fire caused the loss of the last three sections of the central nave, the works of art the Church had (The Main Altarpiece outstood) and the roof.
Route inside the Church beginning for the right-hand nave:
Hours of worship: MO-SU: 19:30h / SU: 12.00h / June through October at 20.30h
By the end of the 19th century Alcalá attracted families of the Sevillian middle class that found at the locality idyllic surroundings for their rest and leisure. The Ibarra family built at the beginning of the 20th century this magnificent house placed at the slope of St. María. Another example is the Village of San José.
These constructions come by the hand of the hygienist current that spread over the main urban cores during the 19th century. They promoted the habit of summer holidays, quite often on doctors' orders as a great part of such times' diseases were attributed to the inhalation of smokes and polluting agents that, in the big cities were beginning to be an increasing worry on growth along with industrialization. This favours the way out to families who can afford it, so they spend seasons looking for supposedly healthier places.. Alcalá becomes one of these idyllic places, destiny for visitors and holidaymakers.
Ibarra's House is one of the most eye-catching models of the manorial architecture. Built by the Ibarra family like a seasonal residence at early 20th c., before the regionalist likes around 1929's Universal Exposition filled up our town of buildings with the same ornamental characteristics. So, this House supposes a case of unusual characteristics, of French-like inspiration, where tops and roofs outstand, as they are very different from our traditional roofs.
Both floors plus the windowed balcony of the main façade, together with the street's upward slope, contribute to give a really imposing and monumental image to the building. Balustrades looking outside stand out, being equally little frequent in that moment of the Andalusian architecture, also its large windows attract our attention.
During the last years the house has belonged to Mr. Joaquín Sanabria's family; he is a restorer, a cabinetmaker and an art collector, who is responsible for the appearance the house shows nowadays as a great container of furniture of diverse sumptuousness, pictures, ceramics and other artistic objects.
San Jose Villa, present Languages School, is of regionalist style and its state is half-tumbledown.
Mudejar Mudéjar style consisted in applying to Christian buildings the influence, elements -such as the horseshoe arch- or materials of Hispanic-Moorish or Andalusí art; this is an autochthonous phenomenon and is exclusively Iberian; it is based on masonry works of Andalusí tradition with specific materials as brick, tile, visible wood in coffers... Church from the 14th century, it houses the town's Patroness image. It was the first and only Parish of Alcalá until the founding of San Miguel.
Our following stop is the Medieval Castle. Before getting to the castle we could stop at the viewpoint to contemplate the views of the Dragon Bridge.
The temple is located in the fold Medieval Village of Alcalá, crowning the hill in which the castle rises up. Its origins date back from the 14th centuries, being initially built on the probable place of an Islamic mosque, which would coincide with the surface of the present-day nave of the Epistle, at a later time christianized after the conquest by King San Fernando in 1276.
We have to highlight the mural painting of International Gothic style in the before mentioned nave, made with a mixed technique of tempera and fresco, depicting Saint Matthew, Alcalá's Saint Patron, when giving his Gospel St. James, who was in charge of spreading the doctrine in Spain.
The Church has three naves of different width, divided in five sections by pillars that support ogival arches. The roofs are wooden, decorated with glazed tiles, which were made by the middle of this century.
The presbytery, of polygonal floor-plan, is high over the rest of the Church, and is covered up by a beautiful groined vaultIt is a kind of vault made up by a series of arches or groins with structural function. The spaces generated between them are called webs, kind of curved panes with a secondary function, as fillers. of twelve groins or arrises, which rest on eight pilasters with carved capitals.
The main entrance door is Gothic with ogival arch and the lateral one is Neoclassical with a brick staircase.
At the outside we find an exempt tower 28 metres high and 7 metres of base; this tower up to the bell level would be the minaretIs the name used for the towers of the mosques. Its main function is, therefore, making easier for the maximum people to hear every one of the five daily calls to prayer. That is the reason why it has often in its highest part a balcony surrounding it, from which the muezzin made the traditional call to prayer. Nowadays the muezzin has been frequently replaced with a megaphone. of the former mosque. The last body is of Mudejar style, crowned by a terrace roof with battlementsSet of prisms and intermediate holes to fire that used to crown the tops of walls or fortresses; they were used as defensive elements and later it started to be used as a decorative motif. They are also known as merlons..
Hours of worship:
From October to May: 16:00-19:00 h
From June to September: 18:00-21:00 h
Sunday: 10:00 h, 11:00-13:30 h and 18:00-21:00 h
Holidays: 11:00-13:30 h and 18:00-21:00 h
Placed on a high spot over the River Guadaíra, of AlmohadReforming movement inside Muslim religion that brought several tribes from Northern Africa together. The reform was born in Morocco in the 12th century as an answer to religious laxity displayed by the Almoravid rulers. They penetrated Iberian Peninsula with the mission of stopping the Christians Kingdoms advance at the Reconquista. Their buildings are mainly functionalist, simple and austere. design and with late-medieval constructions, it includes several buildings, among which the Royal Palace or Alcázar stands out. The Castle is flanked by eleven towers, with architectonic and decorative details of high value. Once the visit is finished, we can walk down through San Miguel (poor) quarter until El Perejil to enjoy the view of [King] Carlos III Bridge.
The first inhabitants of the Castle would have been from the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE, in the transition from the end of the Chalcolithic Period and the middle Bronze Age. The area of possible settlement would be placed in the Silos Yard (and also possibly the zone of the House of the Governor ) where it has been found what seems to be a small fortified village with possible huts inside and remains of handcraft pottery from that period, that would be under the medieval fortress. According to the archaeological information we have this village could have been destroyed by a fire, without knowing its cause ca. 1500 BCE. From this time on and until approximately the 3rd century BCE the area would be uninhabited.
Already in the 3rd century BCE, we can talk again about the existence of remains at the castle zone, in this case of Iberian tradition. From the 1st century BCE this occupation would be along with the Romans'.
The trace remains of the Roman civilization are distributed around the whole higher plateau of the Cerro del Águila (Hill of the Eagle): Village and Castle. During one of the last interventions there appeared great amount of materials and structures of early Empire Period by the zone of the Torre Mocha (Blunt Tower) that would occupy the whole hill.
The end of the settlement would arrive in the 3rd c. CE. Form this moment on and until the 11th-12th centuries there is neither documentary nor archaeological evidence proving the presence of inhabitants in the Castle's area.
We can say that the first written piece of information related to Alcalá in the Moorish period dates back from the end of the 12th century in a work by Ibn Sabih where it is mentioned Yabir's castle. This text is representative because it explains that it is the settlement where the troops of Abû Muhammad in the war against Carmona in 1161 were. It is during this period when the construction of the walled enclosure that we know today started. The remains have appeared in part of the Silos Yard and the Well Yard; in this last one, placed outside the wall, the hamman (rest- and bathrooms), a sewer and part of a street were found.
The construction we see at our days was started during the Almohad Period (12th c.), and ever since it will be enlarged and modified along time. With the conquest by King Fernando III the Saint in 1247, the castle changes slightly its shapes, but still keeps its general design. The 15th c. will suppose the last great stage of reforms. Ever since then the fortress will lose its military character and its abandonment and deterioration begin.
The defensive elements that shape it are: Nature itself, since one of its sides is surrounded by precipices that make this zone inaccessible, a moatIt is a deep ditch full of water, excavated to make a kind of "store" against attacks to the outer walls of the castles or other fortresses. A pit makes difficult the access of the siege engines, as the siege tower or the battering ram that needs to be close to the wall to be effective. A very important characteristic is that it makes difficult the attempts of digging the foundations of the walls by means of tunnels in order collapse them, because water would flood those tunnels or would cause that they had to be very well reinforced., built next to the wall so that the creation of mines is prevented, and the wall itself among others. The minesA subterranean excavation in the shape of tunnel made by attackers to penetrate inside a castle or to destroy its defences; as it was placed under the place on which the wall or tower of the castle leant, these tunnels were intended to destroy them by making them fall down, opening this way a gap that would be used to get into the fortress and assault it. In order to thwart their efficacy the besieged made "countermines" aimed to converge with the head of the mine and to neutralize it. These subterranean galleries could have other uses such as allowing the way in and out the fortress in a discreet manner. and arrowslitsTall and very thin windows, open inwards, aimed to shoot arrows towards the outside as a defence. y balistrariaOpenings aimed to fire with cannons safely and with good aim. allowed the works of attack.
In the 19th c., during the War of Independence, the French entered the castle using it as headquarters and prison. The whole enclosure undergoes during the 1940s a strong alteration due to the installation inside the enclosure of the fairground on the hill. In order to do this, ground had to be levelled with great amounts of earth that buried structures and destroyed several elements.
In 1996, the Town Council of Alcalá de Guadaíra receives from Seville's one the cession of the use of the castle for a period of forty years. Immediately and with funding from Andalusian Government, the first restoration works are carried out. In 1999-2000 the archaeological excavations start, beginning with them a process of study and awareness that will allow approach to our past.
It owes its name to a well that is present in one of its angles. Further studies have discovered that until the Middle Ages it was used for water supply and at a later time like a dump.
This yard is placed at the south of the enclosure, next to the Silos Yard; you can enter it from the village esplanade. The Royal Entrance is the one that introduces us in the inside the yard. This space is delimited by 6 towers, and it is occupied by some rests of barracks and auxiliary constructions.
During the last archaeological interventions the remains of restrooms of the Moorish period and of a possible palace of Christian period have appeared. These Moorish restrooms appeared during the archaeological excavations carried out in 1999. It is a building of rectangular floor-plan made up by three rooms set looking north and having an attached fourth rectangular room. The type of these restrooms corresponds with the design of the classical thermae where rooms with different water temperature follow one another. It is more a place of leisure and social meeting than a hygienic habit.
After Christian Conquer by hands of King Fernando III the Saint in 1248, these restrooms fall in disuse and end up being filled in.
The Well Yard appears like an extension toward the south of the Silos Yard.
The limits of the yard have remained unaltered since then.
It receives its name from several silos excavated in the ground with bell shape, being the biggest 8 m deep. Their date and function are unknown to us, although we know that some of them were used like prison.
It is the first enclosure built on the Castle Hill. Under the yard perimeter are the remains of a village from the Age of Bronze (2nd millennium BCE), with a wall and masonry and remains of huts inside. However the group we see nowadays is an Almohad construction (12th c). The access to this yard is made crossing the "Between Yards2 Tower (Torre de Entre Patios). Over its main door Leonor de Guzman's coat of arms is carved. It is flanked by 7 towers. Originally, its access was made through tower 11, but today it is possible to come in directly from the village esplanade. It had probably military character, and would contain auxiliary constructions (stables, kitchens...)
Today it is used for festivals celebration.
The entrance to this section is more or less the same than what we have to do to gain access to the Castle through the Royal Gate, i.e., this access is got after crossing one moat and a defensive wall very similar to those and built in the same time (15th century). Behind the wall we will find an open space before getting into the house, where several rooms and some props of its vaulted roofs. It can also be appreciated the aljibe or tank that collected the rainwater from its terraced roof, and also the start of stairs that connected these rooms with the dependences with the allure can be identified. In all this section, the Tower of the KeepCentral structure of the medieval castle. It is an outstanding tower, higher than the curtain wall and generally it could be possible to isolate it from the rest of the fortress. It is the main tower, the one that is used as residence by the Lord and also has the most important functions of the castle, housing the main rooms and, occasionally, as food store. It is in the best-covered position regarding a possible outer attack, so if the rest of defences fell under, this tower would provide a last refuge. and the Treason Gate very transformed because of the 20th century's restorations; this would be a last escape route, in case of an extreme situation, towards the steeper zone of this hill.
The coat of arms that you can find carved on the tower of "between yards" shows the mark left in this castle by the love and revenge story of the King of Castile and León Alfonso XI and Leonor de Guzmán.
She was born in 1310 from a wealthy family. Leonor, daughter of don Pedro Martínez de Guzmán and doña Beatriz Ponce de León, became a widow very young and it will be then when she met King Alfonso XI.
He became captivated by her beauty and ever since they held a love relationship that lasted until the end of their lives. From this love, ten children were born. As time went by, she became she became his right-hand person leaving his true Portuguese wife María out; this will make her envy Leonor and will arise María's desire of revenge.
After the death of King Alfonso XI, feeling a widow, Leonor fell from favour. When she arrived to Seville she was sent to prison at the Alcázar. She was moved to Carmona later and finally to Talavera de la Reina, where she died in 1351 under instructions of the queen mother, doña María, Alfonso XI's wife and mother of the new King Pedro I the Cruel.
Once Pedro I took power after his father's death, he will dedicate himself to kill his stepbrothers, poisoned by his mother since early childhood. The eldest, Enrique, will face him, starting up a fight for power that finally will be won by him, who will become King Enrique II, King of Castile and León, starting the Trastámara's dynasty.
Admission is free.