To tide you over ’till Tarragona!
Even from afar, the Castle can be seen atop the “Muntanya de Cullera,” controlling both the historic centre and the Bay that opens out onto the Mediterranean Sea. It is the most emblematic historical monument in the municipality and in the region of the Lower Course of the Júcar River, and has been declared a Heritage of Cultural Interest.
The Castle, as it stands today, was built by the State of Córdoba during the Caliphate period (10th century) to control and defend the territory, most importantly the coastline and the estuary of the Júcar River.
The Castle became a Christian property in 1239 and, subsequently, belonged to the Order of the Knights Hospitallers. In the 16th century, the castle was instrumental to the defence of Cullera against frequent attacks launched by Berber pirates, which ravaged the coasts of Levante. It also played an important role in the 19th century during the War of Independence and during the Carlist Wars, when walls and arrow slits were built along the westerns side and on the Main Tower. The Sanctuary of the Virgin was built onto the Castle in the second half of the century.
The Cullera Castle ensemble consists of the fortress, two fortified areas or albacares and five towers, as well as the Alt del Fort.
The Mirador del Castillo (Castle Viewpoint) offers stunning views over the bay of Cullera, the estuary of the Xúquer and the whole Ribera region. It is currently being remodelled and will soon be able to proudly display its military architecture in its full glory.
The Festival of the May Crosses (Cruces de Mayo) is celebrated throughout Andalucia though it is in Cordoba and Granada where the most impressive displays are on show. If you have to choose one then go to Cordoba. The festival consists of the construction of large crosses made of beautiful flowers in many of the city’s main squares.
In the true spirit of Spanish fiestas a temporary bar is built in the same square as the cross. This is where the locals congregate each evening for a good few drinks and tapas which inevitably leads to spontaneous flamenco style dancing into the early hours.
The celebration takes place during the first few days of May with the first weekend tending to be the busiest when visitors from all over Spain arrive to join in the party. The actual crosses which are around three metres high are made by the people of the neighbourhood and the local town council runs a competition to find the best cross (Concurso de los Cruces de Mayo). In Cordoba alone there are some eighty crosses to choose from.
In Cordoba some of the best neighbourhoods to head for are San Basilio, Santa Marina and San Augustin whilst in Granada it’s the Albaicín and the ‘barrio’ of El Realejo where the best crosses and most merriment is to be found.
The temporary bars generate a good income during these few days which is used by local brotherhoods (cofradías) and community groups to finance various local festivals including Holy Week (Semana Santa) and the Cordoba Fair (Feria de Cordoba). Being such a good cause we obviously try to help them as best we can!
We are off now, on the road again, catch you later! Ciao, Ciao!