Friday, 24 June 2011

Los Corrales – a rare find, by The Andalucían magazine

Los Corrales is one of Andalucia’s smaller, possibly unknown villages. Draped on the edge of the province of Seville, this township has been the source of many an ancient and important find. Remains have been located at two main points: Fuente del Esparto and the Cortijo de Rebola, where richer finds were unearthed.
A gentle spring flows near a cave at the latter site and it is here that the archaeological treasures of a Roman fortified village were brought to light along with numerous pieces of pottery and several silver coins called denarii currency — with which the Roman legionnaires of old were once paid. In the opinion of many archaeologists, this area – known as La Cabeza de Repla – may have once been a part of Ilípula Ilípia or Minor, a city mentioned in the itinerary of Antoninus in the 3rd Century AD.
During Spain’s Muslim rule, the area was completely deserted, partly due to Los Corrales and her surrounding areas being located on the old border between the domains of both the Arabs and Christians. As a site of many conflicts, this poignant district was considered a most risky place to be. The local villages remained untouched for many years, possibly the reason why no archaeological remains have been found before. However, many finds have been stumbled upon in the wild grasses (esparto) of the region. One such source is the plains of Las Alcaidías, where legend has it that a fortunate farmer found a hoard of silver coins, but being in ignorance of its worth, he traveled along the Camino de Repla to nearby Osuna and exchanged for a simple wristband
After the conquest and expulsion of Muslims, the people of Los Corrales became subject to constant checks by Osuna’s councillors. They in turn forbade any new settlements or animal grazing in the area. So, as the population grew it was soon deemed necessary to allocate new land to the people and their neighbouring villages to allow the local area to develop and grow. Around 1540, the council divided land from the village of Martin de la Jara and so the border of Los Corrales was changed forever
Many a historian has debated this movement of regional lines and even the origin of the naming of Los Corrales itself. Some link it to the well-stocked cattle pens of the farmers who worked for the powerful Dukes of Osuna, but others claim that the name has derived from the well-attended cattle fairs formerly held in the pastures which now surround the township of today. None of these theories seem very likely, though, as at the time of the dukedom, the majority of the area’s land remained vacant, and most certainly belonged to the Crown and not the dukes.
A few decades after the alleged re-assignment of land, the first new inhabitants to Los Corrales were finally permitted to settle. Having the pick of the land, they chose to make their homes on the right-hand side of the creek at La Fuente Mala. This was the most appropriate spot of the 278 acres of land to be distributed in the vicinity. A large amount of the grounds available to settlers was to be found on the less fertile left bank of the creek, but as this proved not very suitable for agriculture, it was used for grazing and pens instead.
The first houses were built facing the river, and in front of these humble dwellings, the residents built corrals for their livestock. These almost certainly became the first thing people saw upon visiting the village, and this view lent itself to the new name: La Pueblo de Los Corrales. Over time, the ‘La Pueblo’ was dropped to the village’s current name of Los Corrales.
At first, only a dozen or so families established themselves in Los Corrales due to poverty and land spread, and settlement growth in the coming years proved to be quite slow. The village’s history is similar to many smaller towns in Andalucía, with more pain than glory, but now, fortunately, thanks to the effort and work by all Corraleños, they do enjoy more glories than punishments in their lifestyles. Sadly, the traditional farming methods are being overlooked as a more industrial style of agriculture forces a change in the workplace for many locals. The riches of the land are not as bountiful as their forefathers once found. The population has decreased slowly over the years as many younger residents seek employment further afield.
Despite this, Los Corrales remains a friendly community with much to offer a visitor. With a relaxed atmosphere throughout its streets, you can feel the rich culture of the place. The casa de cultura, dedicated to the past, is definitely worth a visit. There is a wealth of bars and restaurants to choose from, from open terraces to the covered pavilion – there’s something for all tastes.
The calming rural tourism is something to savour, with local riding schools, walks and trails, and many monuments and relics to see. One of the most interesting is a shrine built for the Virgen of Buensuceso – often referred to as the Virgen de Mayo. Legend has us believe that she appeared in the home of a local man. A fiesta is held in her honour every year in May.
Strangely, there are two recognised municipalities in Los Corrales. The new - which is the actual town hall – of which there can be only one – and the old, which is where the powers-that-be deal with any official paperwork. Maybe an even stranger sight is the reformed pillar where locals used to wash their clothes. This is now preserved as a monument.
During your visit, do included a trip to las Ruinas de Repla, the ruins of the Roman fortified village, and take a trip to the upper part of the village, where you can see a series of stone blocks which are believed to have come from the remains of a fortified wall or tower that once would have defended any access to Los Corrales. Here, lying on the surface of the ground, there were many bricks, coarse pottery and many other bits of terra sigillata – astringent clay from Lemnos or Samos which was formerly used as a medicine by the Romans – in addition to remnants of ore or cast iron slag, believed to have been from early settlers.
For the more active, try the Camino de Repla, often referred to as the Camino Blanco thanks to the white stone from which it is constructed. This meandering stream of white leads from Los Corrales to Osuna and is a true paradise for any walkers, hikers or cyclists, thanks to it being virtually traffic-free.
As with all good Andalucían villages, the church is something of a landmark. The Iglesia Parroquial de Santiago el Mayor (Santiago Apóstol) is the church of St James, and dates from the 18th century. It boasts three naves with a transept, chancel, side chapels and a baptistery, and the font itself dates back to the 17th century. For a small population, the church is a very large building and is even included in the 18th century ‘Collection of temples of Andalucía.’
In this wonderful place of worship is a wall painting of very special interest – a modern piece of work by the artist Juan Montes (1962). This masterpiece covers the entire interior of the temple but standing out among from all the artwork is a true Montes trademark, the High Altar, representing the Holy Spirit visiting the Virgin Mary of the Apostles.
If buildings aren’t your thing, there’s a site of natural interest just two kilometres from the pueblo: La Fuente del Esparto. Here is where the relics and significant finds were discovered by the spring. They are quoted in the first chapter acts of the municipal archives of Osuna, and there is reason to believe that the spring would even have been used by Neolithic civilisations. It is here that fossilised remains of animals and oaks have been found, confirming that the entire area remained under the sea for thousands of years during the Middle Paleolithic Tertiary period, from125000 to 40000 BC.
As much as Los Corrales is a quiet and tranquil little place, it is by no means to be underestimated for the richness and wealth it can offer. If you fancy a weekend away exploring the historic modern-day settlement, or maybe a stroll along the Camino, why not stay at the local hostel, Villa Cabreros.
With her rolling landscapes unscathed by radical industry and unspoilt by raging tourism, Los Corrales remains a rare find: where Spain really is Spain and rural traditions have not been lost to the changing times.
Reproduced with the kind permission of The Andalucian© magazine June 2011. To read more about the villages of Andalucía visit

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Sendero de las Rocas

Esta excursión nos llevará por uno de los rincones más bellos y paisajísticos, a la vez que desconocidos, de nuestro término municipal: los pantanos de Gobantes,y Guadalteba.
Nuestra ruta comienza cercana a la cortijada de Rebola. Para llegar allí habremos llegado en coche por la carretera de Gobantes desde Campillos, o desde la carretera que se dirige hacia Ardales desde Campillos tomando el desvío hacia las pantanos, y una vez en éste, dirección nuevamente a Compillos. El coche lo dejaremos en el camino se toma para hacer Windsurf, y aquí iniciaremos nuestro andar hacia la cortijada antes descrita. Remontando el camino y pasando junto al cortijo, nos adentraremos en un sendero rodeado de maravillosas vistas sobre el pantano de Gobantes y las magnificas y grandiosas sierras de la Capilla y Sierra Huma, rodeados de árboles; pinos, acebuches y eucaliptos.
Pronto estamos en el cortijo del El Choppo, que diera nombre al proyecto frustrado de las corporaciones anteriores de creación de un camping y zona de recreo.
Desde aquí el camino se estrecha y alarga y nos lleva a las Rocas, lugar espectacular por lo escarpado y altura de sus paredes. En este idílico lugar podemos pararnos a contemplar profundamente la naturaleza.
Continuando nuestros andares, vamos avanzando por el meandriforme sendero que suavemente bordea la loma del cerro, para llegar a la presa que separa los dos pantanos. Aquí tomamos la carretera para llegar a la zona de restaurantes,, previamente habremos dejado otre vehículo para el retorno.
En esta ruta podemos tomar consciencia de parte de la belleza natural que circunda y pertenece a Campillos e iniciarnos en el senderismo tan sano y saludable.

Escrito por Balti Felguera Ballesteros
Fotografias de Peter Rowland

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ruta del Cortijo del Taraje

Nuevamente desarrollaremos esta linde y sencilla ruta dentro del municipio de Campillos, aunque por poquito también podemos pisar algo del de Antequera.´

Nuestro itinerario comienza en el Cerro Juan Bacas, a donde previamente habremos llegado en coche, para dejarlo en los primeros pinos que encontramos en el camino que parte a nuestra izquierda.

A partir de aquí iniciamos nuestro caminar por un solitario camino que entre pinos y un material yesífero (del que se compone toda esta área), nos va alejando para comenzar un leve ascenso llegando a unos almendros. El paisaje comienza aquí a deslumbrar al caminante, por la cantidad de flores, árboles y postales visuales que nos van saliendo al paso.

El camino comienza su descenso para nuevamente atravesar un tramo de pinar que va poco circunvalando el cerro. Al fondo tenemos el pantano de Gobantes con Sierra Huma haciendo de vigía. Maravilloso.

Continuamos sin desviarnos entre sembrados de cereal aproximándonos al Cortijo del Taraje, que pasamos de largo hasta encontrarnos con un cruce caminos En este momento tomamos el de nuestra derecha que ira bordeando la línea del pantano también con preciosas postales del mismo y la montaña haciéndonos compaña.

El sendero es serpenteante y fácil y también podemos en algún momento salirnos de él para acercarnos al agua. Pero continuamos hasta una zona que se intentó repoblar sin éxito y del que quedan algunos eucaliptos diseminados .

Así llegamos a lo que se considera la parte baja de la cuesta del Cerro Juan Bacas , en la mismo carretera , y se nos presentan dos alternativas : o subimos por la carretera la cuesta hasta llega al coche, o tomando el primer camino que nos sale a la derecha, en fuerte pendiente nos sitúa en una cortijada derruida con una higuera, por donde previamente antes ya habíamos pasado. Desde este nuevo cruce (cortijo derruido) no nos quedará más que regresar sobre nuestros pasos, lo andando anteriormente hasta llegar al vehiculo.

Escrito por Balti Felguera Ballesteros.

Fotografias de Peter Rowland.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Wolves in Andalucia,Lobo Park,Antequera.

For most of us, the only place we will see a wolf, , is in a Zoo or on the TV. But here in Andalucia,near
Antequera, we have the opportunity to see a variety of different types of wolves living in semi wild conditions.
About 10 minute out of Antequera, on the A343 to Alora, we can find Lobo Park, nestled in a valley between the olive groves.
Drive in and park the car, take a short stroll up to reception centre,and you will find theres more to Lobo Park than just wolves. Horses ,mules, goats,pigs and a few more unexpected guests live here.
With your guides being able to talk 3 or more languages, everyone can understand what is going on and how the Park is progressing.
On the tour of the park your first stop is in Petting zoo. an ideal setting for children (and adults) to learn about and get close to some of the domesticated animals,that are here. See the Iberian and pot bellied pigs, be amused at the great escape artists, the goats, constantly breaking out of their enclosure and breaking into the pens of the other animals and stealing their food .And as you walk up to visit the hens, peacocks and foxes, you are aware that you are being watched from other enclosures by Dingoes and wolves that are located nearby.
Moving to the other side of the park, you will encounter different enclosures for the different types of wolves, the Canadian Timber wolf, the Alaskan Tundra wolf, the European wolf and the Iberian wolf. Each enclosure has its own viewpoint and here you will learn and see the way of the wolf pack.
Lobo park is 45 minutes from the Villa Cabreros.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Laguna de Fuente Piedra

A 10 minute drive to the east of the Villa Cabreros, is another
Nature Reserve, the Laguna de Fuente Piedra .The largest lake
in Andalucia and is probably is better known for its population
of Pink Flamingos. The shallow saline waters of this salt lake
provide much feed for the flamingos and the shear size gives
added protection from predators.The ruins of the old salt works
has provided a safe nesting area for the birds to breed.

Over the last few years, a new visitors centre has been developed
just outside the town of Fuente Piedra, on the road to Sierra de
Yeguas and new vantage points have been developed along the roads,
that run adjacent to the lake. From the Visitors Centre, new
footpaths have been created,that take you into the marshlands
that surround this part of the lake.Take a walk along these paths,
listen to the chatter of the birds and listen to the different
alarms as others warn others of your approach.

As the water recedes and the warm hot summer approaches, the
marshlands become scrubland and the dry ground now becomes
home for small lizards, rabbits and other small rodents.
Occasionally you may disturb a weasel or a stoat or see a
fox in the distance. Small birds of prey can often be seen
hovering over this wasteland.

The lake has no outlet and is fed by a number of small
rivers and by seasonal rainfall. During the summer months,
much of the water evaporates,leaving a a layer of white
crystal salt across the lake. Oasis of water are still to
be found and so are the birds.

As well as the Flamingos,other wading birds can be be found
here.Cranes and Ibises are to name just two. Various types
of ducks,such as white headed ducks and mallards can be found
here in the winter months .A large variety of other
waterbirds can be seen here through out the year.
Much of this will depend on the rains during the
previous winter.

The Visitors Centre is open from 9am to 2pm in the
mornings and 5pm to 8pm in the evening

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Los Corrales,Villa Cabreros and beyond,Simply discover the Real Spain. Part 1

. One of the most lesser know tourist destinations in Europe.An off the beaten track town ,in the south east corner of the province of Sevilla,close to the border of the province of Malaga . Los Corrales has something to offer,for even the most discerning tourist. No beautiful beaches here,they are about an hour down the road on the Costa del Sol. The vibrant street life of Los Corrales,a typical Spanish town,with bars, restaurants and shops just waiting to greet you.A town where everyone will bid you," BuenosDias"as you wonder through the streets. Set in the beautiful Foothills of the Serreana de Ronda mountain range of Andalucia in Spain,surrounded by olive groves and cornfields,Where Spain is Spain and where rural traditions are not lost to changing times. Los Corrales sits in the middle of stunning countryside, within easy reach of some of Spain’s hidden treasures.An hour will take you to Sevilla,or Malaga and a little longer will take you to Cordoba and Granada .But cities are cities and is it not time you took a closer look at the towns of Osuna (Sevilla) and Antequera (Malaga) ? Two historical towns,steeped in a wealth of history and culture just waiting to be discovered. With much renovation carried out over the past number of years,the history of these towns has been given a new lease of life.

Set about exploring the depths of Sierra Sur in Sevilla province. There are many different drive routes to make the most of your time in the area. Try leaving Los Corrales and drive around white villages of Sierra Sur, taking in Algamatis,Coripe, Villanueva de San Juan,to name but a few. Discover a new world, with beautiful countryside, tranquillity and a relaxed pace of life .. Alternatively,a 30 minute drive into the province of Malaga and into one of Andelucia´s most prominent Lake Districts. Set amidst the mountains,the Embalsas de Guadalteba-Guadalhorce provide an area of outstanding natural beauty. A haven for outward bound activities,from windsurfing to paragliding,from walking to mountain climbing and much more. And while you are taking in the beauty and awe of this area ,don't forget to visit the gorge at El Chorro. Two nature reserves are within 15 minutes of the Villa Cabreros.The Laguna del Gosgue and the Laguna de Fuente de Piedra.
Tired yet? The day is not over, take a walk into the town and relax , have a drink, have a tapas, enjoy the Spanish way of life. Relax to the sounds of evening life drifting through the streets. Tomorrows another day.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Old Road to Osuna


With the modernisation of                     the road infrastructure in Andalucia,many of the old roads have been lost or forgotten about. But many have survived             through lack of use and only are used by people travelling to  work on  outlying farms and in the olive groves .One such road, is the old road from Los Corrales to Osuna,in the province of Sevilla,Andalucia,the Camino de Repla or the Camino Blanco as it is sometimes called,due to the white stone used on it.
For Walking ,Hiking or Cycling,this is a paradise,and virtually traffic free . A peaceful setting as you leave Los Corrales ,on a carpet of white stone. With the sounds of the husel and busel of everyday life left behind you,the sounds of the countryside take over.A warm gentle breeze whistles through the olives,with the sound of birds singing as they fly from tree to tree.
A journey of about 20km which will take you to the old town of Osuna,via good arable 
farmland,olive groves and rugged countryside,with small hills lining your way.The road 
meanders it way,like a river seeking the sea and as you pass, the ruins of old farmhouses  talk to 
you in the wind. The shepherds guide their flocks of sheep and herds of goats through this 
wilderness of hills and olives,just grazing the day away.

Follow the Camino de Repla ,from Los Corrales to Osuna on our Google map on the Location pages on our website