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Andalusia: From Córdoba to Seville

Parador Cartama

I stand in shame. How I ever could have written off Spain as a being the sum of Barcelona , Madrid , and Costa del Sol is beyond me. It’s a country I’ve had little interest in but after the road trip from Córdoba to Seville , I’m a convert. Our three stops – Monturqe, Écija, and Carmona – none of them places I’d ever heard of before, left me at a loss for superlatives.

Monturque

Although not actually on the road to Seville, unless you go out of your way, we made the detour because of the award-winning cemetery (a must for taphophiles) and the Roman cisterns – even though I wasn’t quite sure what a cistern was. The geographical centre of Andalusia, this village of 2000 people perched on a hilltop about 57 km from Córdoba, warrants a blog of its own. It’s doing its damnedest to get on the tourist map and if the lovely Lourdes (our guide) has her way, it’ll happen. The well-preserved Roman cisterns discovered beneath the cemetery in the late 1800s are the fourth largest in the world after Bord Djedid (Tunisia), Albano (Italy), and Cherchell (Algeria) holding some 850 000 litres of water. And they’re still finding them – as recent as last December another was discovered while doing roadworks. Tours need to be booked ahead (www.monturquetourismo@gmail.com), cost €3, and run from 9 to 1 pm daily.

Roman Cistern at Monturqe

Écija

We’d passed the church-laden skyline of Écija on our way to Córdoba and made a note to stop on the way back. We nearly didn’t. Known locally as the frying pan, Écija was hotter than anything I’d imagine Hades to be. But life is too short for regrets and curiosity got the better of us. I’m glad we did. It is jaw-droppingly gorgeous with a wow every five minutes. It wasn’t just the heat and the exertion that left me gasping for breath. With more than 20 convents and churches and palaces, it is a truly stunning town. But better to go early morning or late evening because the afternoon is uncomfortably hot.  Just 85 km east of Seville, it’s also a good day trip from the city [Note: The car park underneath the main square charges by the minute….]

Palacio de Valdehermoso Écija

Palacio de Valdehermoso

 

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista Écija

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista

 

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista Écija

Iglesia de San Juan Bautista