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Villages and towns of the Sierra Subbetica

There are 14 villages that sit within the Sierra Subbetica Natural Park, which was designated as a regional park in 1988. These small white washed villages make ideal stopping points on a days walk or cycle trip, as they all have their own small family run restaurants and tapas bars to while away the afternoon in.

With it's postion between Cordoba and Granada at the height of the moorish empire, the region flourished, and there are over 300 archiological ruins in the area, often to just stumble across on a walk. Among the best towns and villages of the subbetica are Priego De Cordoba, Lucena, Cabra and Zuheros.

Lucena

Lucena is a large industrial town, famous throughout spain for it's furniture, and on first approach, it doesn't look too exiting. But this hides the fact that Lucena is an old town, that has many well ornamented and Baroque churches in it's old quarter. There is the parish church of San Mateo where the chapel of Sagrario has an elaborate baroque interior, with exquisite plasterwork and a magnificent encrusted marble entrance. In fact Hurtado Izquierdo, a well known baroque architect, was born in the town.

Other monuments include the 17th century church of San Agustin with a unique oval layout and domed tower, and the church and hospital of San Juan de Dios, with a marble entrance and Baroque altarpiece. Near to the San Mateo church are some restored castle ruins, the Castillo del Moral. This was where Boabdil, who was the last Moorish ruler of Spain, was held in 1483 when captured by Isabella.

The fact that it is such a thriving town means that there is everything that a visitor could need, including a massive Carrefour supermarket, and a thriving nightlife including the kinds of restaurants that you don't normally see out here in a rural area, like Chinese and Indian food.

Priego de Cordoba

Priego de Cordoba is a lovely little town, energetic but steeped in history. There are several Baroque churches in the town centre to visit, such as the Iglesia de la Asuncion and the Iglesia de la Aurora, from which a cloaked brotherhood sets out on a procession every Saturday night, singing songs and collecting alms. The town centre is well signposted for attractions, and fully serviced with shops and places to eat.

The old town is built around the thirteenth century Arabic castle at the edge of the escarpment. Barrio de la Villa is the oldest residential area with whitewashed houses whose walls are decorated with plant pots of geraniums and petunias. La Fuente del Rey is a national monument, a highly sculptured spring with 139 fountains.

Iznajar

Perched on a prominary above the vast man made lake that takes its name, Iznajar is a delightful white village topped off with a charming church at its peak. Below the town is a man made beach, which is usually uncrowded even in the height of summer, the water is fine for swimming and has pedalos and canoes for rent.

Cabra

Cabra is very clean and attractive small town within the Subbetica. The Via Verde cycletrack runs through the edge of town, making it ideal for anyone wanting a cycling holiday. Outside the town is the Virgin De Ermita, which is a hermitage at the very top of a steep hill, providing views for miles on a clear day.

Other places of interest include the Rio fountain, the castle, and the Baroque church of Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion and was originally a mosque converted into a Christian place of worship. The church still has its over forty remarkable red marble columns which will remind you of the mosque in Cordoba . The town itself has plenty of places to eat out, and full shopping facilities. There is also a massive Carrefour superstore about 10 minutes away at Lucena for anything else you might need.

Rute

Rute is a large village/small town within the Subbetica, and has many charming nooks and crannys within it to lose yourself in. It has plenty of shops, bakeries, bars and restaurants to keep you fed and watered, and also has a few interesting diversions to while away the day there. There is a museum of Jamon, dedicated to the locally produced and nationally famous hams. There is also a museum of Anis, which is a locally produced liqueor, with demonstations of how it is produced. Some of the locals still produce this liqueor in it's original 100% proof variety in bootleg stills.

There is also a donkey sanctuary there, with many donkeys that have been rescued from terrible treatment, and the sanctuary has received many generous donations to help keep it running. They even have a donkey thats been adopted by Bill Clinton!

Carcabuey

Carcabuey is a an quiet,unpretentious but welcoming village set in beautiful countryside. Plenty of places to stop for food, or eat out of an evening. There is a pleasant walk up the hill to a small church which sits overlooking the town, next to an obligatory ruined castle, which you can wander round the outside walls of.

Zuheros

Zuheros is a beautiful village, perched high on a rock outcrop under massive limestone crags, overlooking a plain of olive trees as far as the eye can see. It is one of the prettiest villages in the area.

The Via Verde cycle path runs below the village, making it a good choice for hiking or biking holidays. There is also 'La Cueva de los Murcielagos(the cave of the bats) which stretches undergorund for nearly 2km, and is full of stalactites, stalagmites, and neolithic wall paintings. There is a castle at the front of the village, which has daily tours, and a small museum opposite of neological finds. The town is also famed for it's goats cheese production, and the factory there has a visitors shop.

The village itself, while small, does have shopping facilities, and bars and taverns for eating out. The bar near the fountain at the castle is lovely for watching the sun go down.

Antequera

Antequera is the one of the nearest large towns to the area, sitting in the shadow of a mountain, and staring over the fertile plains towards the Subbetica. It's primarily an agricultural town, but has a rich history going back to Roman times. The town is dominated by an Arab castle, which has been partly restored, allowing you to climb up onto the rapparts, and gaze out over the town and surrounding hills. Below the castle is a shady park, and the Royal College church which has been converted into a museum recently.

Antequera also has several old and attractive churches along it's main street to view, and a historic and attractive bull ring, with a pleasant restaurant and bullfighting museum attached. Antequera has a modern towncentre with plenty of shops for anything you might need. There are several large supermarkets on the outskirts of town, including one with a shopping mall attached.