HOT Properties Magazine Archive
HOT Attractions - Casares - Cradle of Andalucía
Southern Spain is renowned for its rich legacy of historic, picture postcard white villages, and none is more captivating than Casares. Not only breathtakingly beautiful, the spectacularly photogenic little town also boasts several other uniquely significant claims to fame and is the cradle of the autonomous community of Andalucia..
Clinging to twin craggy hilltops some 435 metres above sea level and just 14 kilometres inland from Sabinillas on the Western Costa del Sol, exploring the steep, serpentine cobbled streets of Casares is to take a giant step back in time. The village - characterised by neat sugar-cube houses precariously stacked one above the other, seemingly defying gravity in their vertiginous climb towards the battlements of the Moorish Fortess presiding over it — was designated a site of Historical-Artistic Interest in 1978.
Evidence that prehistoric man once made his home here can be seen in several areas of the municipality, principally the caves and ancient shelters of Ferrete, Crestellina, Pelliscoso, Utrera and on the La Novia Hill. The archaeological remains of what is believed to have been the Iberian-Roman city of Lacipo —which appears to have been built on the site of an even earlier Phoenician town — together with the Hedionda Baths confirm its importance as a Roman settlement. Unusually, too, Casares also minted its own coins during the Roman era.
As the ruins of its strategically located and once magnificent fortress-castle clearly show, the village also dates back to the times of the Moors. Following the Christian Reconquest of nearby Ronda in 1485, Casares was granted to Rodrigo Ponce de Leon, Duke of Cadiz, as a feudal holding. The inhabitants actively participated in the ensueing Moorish uprising subsequently quashed by Don Juan de Austria, and in the second half of the XVI century a pact was signed in the village bringing an end to the rebellion.
But its long and troubled history was still far from over. In 1795, Manilva was separated from Casares and granted the distinction of a Villa. or Royal Burgh, and a few years later the village was once more at war, this time with the invading French army. Undeterred by the sheer force and magnitude of its opponent, lilliputian Casares and the far mightier Atlantic port city of Cadiz were the only two centres of population able to repel Napoleonic troops.
More recently, during the Spanish Civil War (1936 — 1939), Casares endured more than its fair share of damage. The Church of the Incarnation, built in 1505, was badly disfigured and is no longer in use, and all that remains of the ancient Hermitage is a dome-topped alcove, and the ruins of three walls blemished by bullet holes. Gazing out over the dramatic gorge below the village, a simple iron cross is a poignant memorial to the many local inhabitants who lost their lives during the conflict in which the incumbent Second Spanish Republic and left-wing groups rallied against a right-wing insurrection led by General Francisco Franco.
All that, though, is now light years away from the peace and serenity enveloping this charismatic white village that epitomises the rural heart of Andalucia. Two days after Franco's death in 1975, democratic constitutional monarch King Juan Carlos came to the throne, his sure hand transforming Spain into a tolerant, stable, forward-looking, major democracy.
As the birthplace of Blas Infante — referred to as 'the father of Andalucia' - Casares has also played a significant part in the shaping of modern Spain. An intellectual, law graduate and author, he was born in the vllage in 1885 and it was his vision and long, hard campaign that eventually resulted in the creation of Andalucia as an autonomous, largely self-governing community, formed by eight provinces. Infante's revolutionary ideals fell foul of Franco. He was imprisoned during the Civil War and executed in 1936, his famous last words: "Long live free Andalucía!"
That took some considerable time to achieve. The referendum was held in 1980, approved in 1981, and in 1982 Andalucía elected its first parliament on 28 February, now an annual public holiday throughout the region. Casares honours its most famous son with an impressive statue, while the house in which he was born is now the Bias Infante Museum.
In addition to these and many other ancient monuments, other places of interest include the Carlos Ill Fountain and Ethnic History Museum. The municipality of Casares extends inland from the Coast to the mountains of Ronda and westwards to the plains of the Campo de Gibraltar, taking in some of the most spectacularly diverse scenery on the Costa del Sol. On the Mediterranean shores of the Bay of Casares beneath the fascinating old town, the distinctive and solitary XVI century Torre de la Sal watchtower juts out into the sea, built on former salt-pans dating back to the Roman occupation.FURTHER INFORMATION Town Hall: Cl. Villa 29, Casares Tel: (+34) 952 894 126
Tourist Information Office: Tel: (+34) 952 895 521
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