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Baena (Córdoba)

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Baena (Córdoba)

BACKGROUND

Baena is a town in the province of Cordoba in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It has a population of over 20,000 and an area of 360 km².

When the Romans occupied the town, they named it Baniana or Biniana, which is the origin of its present-day name. Many important archaeological sites date to this era, the most significant being Torreparedones Archaeological Park. Occupied by the Moors in the eighth century, the town was founded on the top of the hill where it stands today, and is surrounded by fortifications. It preserves part of its original fortress and the maze of streets of the Moorish Almedina in the old quarter.

In 1241, Baena surrendered to King Ferdinand III and a community of Castilian-Leonese, Mudejar and Jewish colonists was created, all of whom were subject to the hardships associated with living on the border. Given its proximity to the Kingdom of Granada, Baena was continuously destroyed by the incessant battles at the end of the Middle Ages.

At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the town suffered the misfortune of the Baena massacre, a relentless mass execution of Spanish republicans, where almost a thousand legalists were assassinated.

WHAT TO SEE

Baena’s old quarter is located on the top of the hill. Its main monuments are the Santa María church, which despite being built in the sixteenth century, actually originated in the thirteenth century, the Madre de Dios convent church, founded in 1510, and the ninth-century castle and fortress, as well as a number of gates belonging to the old town wall. Casa del Monte house and Casa de la Tercia house, home to the town’s history museum, can both be found in Plaza de la Constitución.

A labyrinth of narrow, snaking streets, decorated with traditional and stately homes, Baena proves itself as a historic Andalusian town. In addition to its rich heritage, the town is also renowned for its natural surroundings of never-ending olive groves and cereal fields. The production of high-quality olive oil continues to be the local economy’s most important sector and the town holds the oldest designation of origin classification in Spain.

HOLY WEEK AND EASTER

Holy Week is Baena’s most important celebration. Despite being religious in nature, the town is flooded by sound and colour to remember the Passion of Christ every year. Among the symbols that represent the local tradition, the figure of the “Jew of Baena” plays an important role. All “Jew” brothers don a characteristic outfit: a red jacket, a gold helmet and a white or black mane of hair. All carry drums, which they roll incessantly throughout the week.

The religious sculptures that are paraded through the streets during this extraordinary Holy Week are also outstanding for their artistic value. Examples of such are the Gothic Jesus Christ of Forgiveness or Jesus Christ of the Expiration, both of which have been granted “Cultural Interest” status.

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