A Region of Olive Oil and Wine
The region of Aljarafe is a historically important area of Andalusia. The name El Aljarafe originates from the Arabic word meaning elevation. It is bordered to the south by the coast of Cadiz, to the north by the Sierras north of Seville, to the west lays of Huelva and to the east Seville city. El Ajarafe is renowned for its gently undulating hills. During times of heavy rain and storms the area becomes eroded by many streams which are liable to flooding, in contrast the summers are very dry and hot.
The Romans named the area Vergetum (Orchard) as it was from El Aljarafe that olive oil and wine were exported to cities throughout the Roman Empire. Still today the remains of a Roman bridge can be seen in Aznalcázar, near Dos Olivos.
There was important development of the region during the Muslim occupation, and remains of this can be seen in the olive groves, the towns of Albaida del Aljarafe and Bollullos de la Mitacion. The Muslims also built many mosques which were later changed into Christian churches.
The village of Santiponce sits on the outskirts of Seville. It is not large, but the Roman ruins of Italica, which were built in 205BC, are located here. Italica was the first Roman town to be built in Spain. Santiponce was built in the 16th Century, when a former site became flooded. Much of the stone used came from the original Roman site. Santiponce also has restored the amphitheatre where ballets and operas are held. There is also a 13th Century monastery, San Isidro del Campo.
La Algaba, on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, 10 kms to the north of Seville. It is home to the Torre de los Guzmanes which was built in the 15th century by Juan de Guzmán and also has a church, Santa Maria de las Nieves.
Olivares, 15 km from Seville, birthplace of the Duke of Olivares in the 17th Century, is a small rural town, surrounded by softly rolling hills with olive trees and wheat fields. It is a peaceful town with narrow streets winding their way past Spanish whitewashed houses.===imagen > el-aljarafe-olivares.jpg===
Salteras is a typical Spanish village with 3000 inhabitants and a 16th century church, built in the mudejar style, Santa Maria de la Oliva.
Villanueva del Ariscal is in the centre of the Aljarafe. The area produces olives, cereals and grapes. The famous Bodegas Góngora are close to town, and you can buy very fine wines.
Umbrete, 15km from Seville boasts many monuments, including the 17th century church and the Palacio Arzobispal. Olive groves and vineyards surround Umbrete and Mosto (young) wine is produced here. Unlike other wines, Mosto should be drunk within 6 months after the harvest. ===imagen > el-aljarafe-mosto.jpg===
Sanlúcar la Major, 23km from Seville has fascinating churches, the church of San Pedro and the 13th Century church of Santa Maria, built in gothic mudejar style and the church of San Eustaquio has an interesting tiled tower.
At Castilleja del Campo, a very small village, many roman remains have been found in the surrounding area..
Pilas, another town just a few minutes from Dos Olivos is on the edge of the Doñana Natural Park. It is surrounded with pine and oak forests, orange, almond and olive plantations. Built originally by the moors, it developed around an 11th Century “Qubba” which can still be seen today.
Bollullos de la Mitación 18km to the west of Seville is surrounded by rolling hills of olive trees. It also boasts some of the areas most beautiful haciendas, constructed in the 18th century, the most notable being the Hacienda Torquemada. Also near Bollullos is the Hermitage of Cuatrovitas, purported to be one of the most beautiful sights in the region.
Palomares del Río was originally a roman settlement and provides lovely views of the surrounding countryside.
Set in the foothills of the Sierra Morena is the town of Guillena, during the second week of September their main fiesta is held in is held in honour of the patron saint of Nuestra Señora de la Granada.
Gerena, lying to the west of Guillena is home to many important Roman remains including aqueducts, baths and mosaics..
Aznalcollar is near the foothills of the Sierra Morena and the countryside perfect for rural pursuits. The fauna and flora of this area are enjoyed by many. Mining commenced here during Roman times and the remains of a Roman aqueduct which transported water to Italica were discovered here. There is also the ruins of a Moorish castle in the town itself. ===imagen > el-aljarafe-aznalcollar.jpg===