ALCALÁ DE GUADAIRA, CITY OF BAKERS

If there is a common practice in these months of movement restrictions, it is to visit nearby places that, perhaps because they are close, are not in the drawer of our thoughts when we plan an excursion. The reality is that the distance does not make the visit of a higher quality, and a good example of this can be found in Alcalá de Guadaira, just 20 km from Seville.

The best way to start is through the castle, whose image impacts as soon as you enter the town. Located on a hill, what we see today was built in the 12th century and underwent modifications until the 17th century. However, life around the castle hill dates back 4,500 years, as there are archaeological finds from the Bronze Age.

The castle has a visiting hours in the morning everyday except Mondays, which is closed. Although we recommend calling information since this schedule may be modified due to Covid restrictions.

Next to the castle, at one of the highest points, we find the church of Santa María del Águila, located within the old medieval town. In Mudejar style, it dates from the 14th century, although it was probably built on top of an Arab mosque. Within its walls, we find the image of the patron saint of Alcalá, Our Lady of the Eagle. The popular tradition says that the Christians, in times of the Muslim invasion, hid the image in the castle; and that in the Christian reconquest it was discovered by an eagle. Although it is worth entering to contemplate its frescoes, pointed arches and wooden roofs decorated with glazed tiles; It is no less true that the panoramic view of Alcalá offered by its exteriors is a delight for the eyes.

In front of the Plaza del Derribo, we find another temple that well deserves mention. It is the Church of Santiago, which dates back to 1,500, although in its architecture we also find neoclassical elements, specifically the body of the church. To its architectural value we add the artistic value, since we can also find high quality altarpieces. Unfortunately, in 1936 the church was burned and there were parts that were lost, although it was restored.

Alcalá was a summer resort for wealthy Sevillian families at the beginning of the 20th century. And we have good proof of this in the palaces that we find between the Church of Santiago and the Church of Virgen del Águila. Due to the pollution of the big cities, the medicine of the time recommended leaving the city to less crowded spaces. Thus, the Ibarra house of the well-known Sevillian family was built. At an architectural level, it is of great interest since it is in a French style, since it was built before the regionalist fashion that arises with Aníbal González and the exhibition of 29.

Art, history and architecture breathe in the streets of Alcalá. But also the fresh green of the trees, which we find in the Ribera del Guadaira, a natural monument that houses a large number of species, and the possibility of discovering them through its many trails.

It is in this area where many of the mills are found that justifies the title of this post, some of them are from the 18th century, although there is evidence of the milling tradition since Roman times. And there were many factors that made Alcalá and bread go hand in hand for so long. The first is the fertility of its lands due to its location, around the Guadaira, which allowed the cultivation of wheat. The second, its proximity to Seville, a great city in growth and development that needed a supply of this essential food. Such was the importance of the bakery industry that it was known as “Alcalá de los Panaderos” or "City of Bakers".

Today, when you walk its streets, you can see the footprint of this industry, although already with more current touches. And there are many bakeries and confectioneries that still exist, although due to the competition from frozen bread many traditional ovens have been forced to close.

Through this post, we have given the hints of what a day's walk through Alcalá can be, but its heritage is more extensive and we invite you to go and discover it. We also encourage you to have tapas in the town, since there are many gastronomic options that we can find. In "La Plazuela" many bars with their terraces are concentrated, and the gastronomic level is very good. Perhaps it is because of the fresh air that the Guadaira leaves, perhaps because it oozes history; or perhaps because all of them are accompanied by the good bread that the alcaleños knead.

If you want to know the province and all its corners from our hand, do not forget to write to us at info@sevilla4real.com and we will organize the most unforgettable experience for you.