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Turismo de Alcalá de Guadaíra

Legends and curious matters

STORIES THAT ARE PART OF THE TOWN'S SOUL

Like all the old towns, Alcalá has accumulated History since its soil was occupied for the first time by prehistoric men that put their feet on Gandul. But as it always happens at the old villages, chronicles and books of History do not collect that part of the history which, true or not, is part of the soul of the town.

The eagle of the Castle

It is one of the more extended beliefs in the town, and tells than the town Patroness, Our lady of the Eagle, was found by an eagle. If it happened, this episode could have been like this: The Christians - who had been recently taken the control of the Castle, from the Moors in the Reconquest-, spent their days going here and there by their new dominions in the Castle Hill and getting some idea on their possibilities for their new life.

Legends and curious matters

From their arrival they had observed than every day an eagle flew over the walls and that it went to land always on the same place. They were surprised at the presence and even more because of the eagle's behaviour, so they decided to go to the place the bird preferred to land on. After a short search, they found at this spot an image of the Virgin that would have been hidden by the Christians before the Moorish invasion. This eagle, in addition to have rescued the Virgin from Her hiding-place gave name to Her Advocation.

Mutant fishes at the underground channels

Old Roman channels are spread by all Alcalá's subsoil; they were built in order to supply water to the town and to Seville, becoming in this city Los Caños de Carmona (Carmona's Pipes). The network of channels is always full of crystalline water from several springs, originated from albariza (albero-sand) rocks.

Some people say that in that network of channels some strange fishes dwell or used to dwell; they would have been adapted to the singular living conditions at the channels. These mutant fishes would be of a white colour and have withered eyes. There is a testimony registered by Mr Francisco García Rivero, from one that a person who claims to have fished and eaten them. That person even praises their flesh as very tender and white.

The Castle Pit

There is a construction in the Castle laden of mysteries and that, in spite of several researches that have been carried out; it remains intact in its secrets. It is a large pit in the graveyard it gives its name to. It is a large construction excavated on the albero rock in the lowest part of the courtyard. There are many and varied interpretations. The most orthodox one says that it is a water tank to supply the Castle and to access to some underground courses of water. But there are other opinions that find the construction too important to be just a tank. The point is that at present moment it is full of debris and rubbish.

Legends and curious matters

Several times it has been tried to get to its bottom. Some workmen worked in it, but after getting very deep inside it, they did not reach its bottom. There are many speculations whereas mystery is unveiled. Some people think it is the start of a network of tunnels that led up to the Castle outside, in order to allow the Castle inhabitants to run away when besieged, or the bravest to get some water or other supplies to keep on resisting against besiegers. And furthermore, some believe that in its bottom a great treasure was hidden by a Moorish king.

Princess Aira

It is said that at the Castle a Moorish princess called Aira used to live; it was from her that the town took its surname Guadaíra. And it is also told that in the evenings, her soul, suffering from lovesickness, goes over the Castle courtyards making her voice heard among the old stones of the fortress.

A ghost that throws stones

The recently edited work "Chronicles and memories from Alcalá de Guadaíra" takes in a curious passage on a supposed ghost in the town, that at least is proven to be uneasy. The story told by Mr García Rivero starts at the early 40s from the last century. The inhabitants of a tenement of the Coracha Street got startled a day with the throwing of stones, of a considerable size, that fell inside the house's yard.

It was a fright at the start, but when it kept on being repeated for several days, alarm became considerable. Neighbours from the surroundings were asked about and watch was kept for some time, nobody was to be seen. In the meantime, stones kept on falling and the idea of a ghost took shape. The village was excited and visits of curious people to the street were continuous. The arisen alarm was so high that even the village's Mayor attended the place with the sergeant of the Civil Guard and corporal form the Municipal Police. The ghost's answer was throwing them a stone. The surrounding area was combed and watched for several days, but without result. One day the stones went missed and the story was forgotten, never knowing where they came from.

But it happened that Francisco García Rivero -who experienced the story when he was a kid, visited the street recently and verified that the house was closed. When he was seen at the door by a neighbour who had been living in Alcalá for very few years, she asked him if he knew who lived there, because from its yard lemons had been thrown in several occasions to the house next door where she lived in and in an occasion they had even hit a girl that was playing in the street. García Rivero kept on investigating and found the person that used to live in the house. He had also been the target of an attack with lemons, of undetermined origin, that were warned by the barking of his dog.

Lost town of Gandul

Alcalá's historic origin is in Gandul, but it could be also the mythological one. Below ground, in an enormous extension of land now dedicated to cultivation or reserved for the construction of Palmar de Gandul many remains are spread over, remains that date back from Bronze Age up to Roman dominion. Tombs and very interesting elements have been discovered, like the treasure of Bencarrón, of Oriental influence.

Gandul

But the most interesting is to be discovered at the Mesa de Gandul. It is a small plateau where a prehistoric settlement of huts existed; later it was developed until the Roman Period. Unfortunately, we are not certain of the importance of this Roman settlement. In the absence of excavations it is believed that there are signs of the existence of an amphitheatre and strong walls, synonymous of a city of extraordinary importance. Some people think that it could have some relevance similar to Italica's.

The Castle prisoners

The Castle is a constructive complex that has had a fascinating life. In its centuries of usage it has served as a fortress, acommodation, watchtower or prison. This last case has provided some episodes of singular cruelty. The cistern was the prison of Diego García de Padilla; he lived for several months in the water tank, being afraid of drowning whenever rainwater filled it in. In one of the underground deposits of wheat of the Silos courtyard, Bishop Juan de Cardellac was locked-up for opposing King Pedro I. He spent many years there and was freed when he was about to die and completely insane. Signs of his life in prison can be seen on the walls, where he marked the days and weeks he spent there.

Princess Alguadaira's Legend

A legend tells us that, at the strongest tower of the Castle of Qalat Chábir there used to live princess ALGUADAIRA, young Muslim daughter of the Castle's governor. Her father had promised her in marriage to Muslim ABUL-SULEIMAN. However, the princess had fallen in love with a Christian held captive by the Moorish troops, named Garcí Meléndez. Every day the young princess attended in secret the dungeon where the prisoner was to see her young Castilian lover. One day, she decided to free him and run away with her beloved one through Seville's Entrance, named from then on the Treason Entrance (because she betrayed her father, who had promised her in marriage to Abel Suleiman).

Once they crossed the river on a boat, they met Abul Suleiman at the other side; he stabbed the princess to death. The young lady's blood blended with the water of the river, becoming part of it. Since then, the river took the name from the princess.

The Guardian of the Castle

Yacub and his family used to live in al-Qalat, due to their mother's fragile health. Their father, the caliph, was absent for months due to the numerous expeditions and battles he took part of; when he returned he always used to bring several presents for his children. In this occasion Yacub was given an egg, which according legends would grant him the strength, agility and fierceness of dragons.

Following a Norman slave from the laundry of the castle's advice, Yacub found the best-suited place to have his egg incubated at the galleries of the mine, where he acceded to through the castle basement.

Legends and curious matters

On the dawn following a new moon evening, Yacub went down to the mine's gallery and discovered that the egg had already hatched. The boy was feeding the dragon until it became a giant-sized creature that used to wander through the infinite network of galleries of the mine. One day, Yacub showed him a red ruby ring to the dragon, that got hypnotized by the gem and suddenly six circles of bright red appeared on the dragon's back. When Yacub saw this, he dedicated himself to take down all the precious stones he could find, and that way the dragon was catching all the colours of them.

One evening, Yacub went down to see the dragon and he discovered that it had escaped outside through one of the many mouths; Yacub went out to look for it, and found it without too much trouble; when he saw it, he jumped onto its back and the dragon spread its wings and began to fly; it was a moving moment that both of them decided to repeat it every evening.

The arrival of autumn brought bad news. The sultaness health was completely restored, so she had decided to return to the capital city. They started the journey by night to avoid surprises, but the plan did not come out all right at all, as a hundred of Almoravid warriors, who dwelt in the mountains from pillage and rioting, surrounded the sultaness' entourage aggressively, and when they were already willing to attack when, suddenly a jet of flames appeared from high and wrapped the warrior figures with a mantle of flames. In less than five minutes there was not even one standing aggressor.

The Castle needed somebody to defend it and there was nobody better than the dragon, that way the people from al-Qalat felt safe with his presence. Although, after that day nobody has ever seen the dragon, so some people think it is only an Almohad legend. But there have always been some special people, convinced of the existence in the depths of the water mine of a mythological being with the skin covered in precious stones waiting tireless a boy's return whereas it cared for, protected and guarded the great castle of al Qalat Wadi Xira.

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