The town of Priego de Cordoba is located 103 km southeast of the City of Cordoba. It has about 23,000 inhabitants and is called the "city of the water" because it has many springs and has an abundance of water. It is known to be one of the most picturesque towns of Cordoba because it has many Baroque buildings and churches. It is set in the mountains of the Natural Park of Las Sierras Subbeticas. The town is famous for its olive oil and it has its own Denomination of Origin. The local economy is based on agriculture, the manufacture of clothing, and tourism, and the
town is quite prosperous.
Priego was a town began by the Iberians and later taken by the Romans. Priego became a fortified town of the Moors with the name of Baguh. It was conquered by the Christians under Ferdinand III in 1225. In 1327 the Moors retook the town. Finally in 1340 Alfonso XI retook the town.
In 1711 Priego became part of the Duchy of Medinaceli and the town became prosperous because of its silk industry. The taffeta and velvet the town produced was sold all over the Spanish peninsula, France, and the Americas. That was when the Baroque decoration was placed in the town's churches and palaces. Unfortunately at the end of the 18th century the mulberry trees deteriorated and there was strong competition from the cotton industry, so the town entered a sharp recession. Today the agricultural industry and tourism have improved the local economy.
The Town Hall building was constructed in 1952 and is an elegant building that sits on the Plaza de la Constitucion, a very pretty square. The former convent of the Poor Clares used to occupy the site. Today the local tourist office is located on the ground floor of the building.
The main street of Priego de Cordoba is called Calle Rio. The word "rio" means river and below this street runs the river. This street is known for its elegant houses, many with Baroque facades. Many of the houses have beautiful Mudejar designs and wonderful wrought iron grills on the windows. The doors of the houses are very elegant because they have brass knockers, round brass eyeholes, and brass kick plates at the bottom of the doors, with elegant designs. The Carrera de las Monjas also has these beautiful buildings.
The History Museum is based on archaeology and was created in 1995. The exhibits contain many archaeological remains from the Paleolithic and Neolithic times, times of the Romans and the Moors, including coins, sculpture, pottery and tools. The museum is located in the Adolfo Lozano Sidro Cultural Center. This man was a local artist who reached fame and his museum is located on the second floor. There is a beautiful patio that is typical of Andalusia, with columns. At the back of the building is an exhibition space that contains many modern abstract landscape paintings.
Church of San Francisco
The construction of this church was started in 1510 under the patronage of Don Pedro Fernandez de Cordoba, the first Marquis of Priego, and was finished in 1548. The original style was late Gothic, with Mudejar touches. In the 18th century it was reconstructed using the Baroque style by the architects Jeronimo Sanchez de Rueda and Juan de Dios Santaella. The church has cross-vaulted ceilings, segmented cupolas, and an abundance of Baroque plaster decorations. The altar was created by Juan de Dios Santaella in 1781. It contains a shrine to the Virgin with a sculpture of the Virgin by the school of Jose de Mora. There is a niche with the figure of Saint Stephen.
There is a beautiful Chapel of Jesus of Nazareth that was constructed by Jeronimo Sanchez de Rueda and Juan de Dios Santaella. The statue of Jesus of Nazareth was done by Pablo de Rojas in 1592. There are sculptures of Our Lady of Sorrow and St. John the Evangelist on each side, carved by the school of Pablo de Rojas around 1600. Jose Risueño carved the images of St. John the Baptist and Jesus as children. The Chapel of the Scourging Jesus has the statue of Christ being scourged and was done by Alonso de Mena in 1640.
Church of La Aurora
The Church of Our Lady of Dawn was built on the site of the shrine to St. Nicasio, the patron saint of Priego and it was completed around 1528. Juan de Dios Santaella reconstructed the church in the 18th century. The church has a rectangular plan and an arched ceiling in five sections with windows. There are plaster figures of St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Evangelists. There is an exuberant Baroque plasterwork that covers the cupola, ceiling, and windows. The designs are geometric, and has designs of plants and flowers. There are also designs of angels. The main altar has the figure of St. Nicasio. The Chapel of the Virgin has a sculpture of the Virgin by Diego de Mora. There is a bell tower of Baroque design and the main door was completed in 1772 and is decorated with plenty of marble. There are two levels and the lower has Corinthian columns, while the upper part has spiral pillars that frame the niche of the Virign.
La Asuncion Church
The Sagrarium Chapel of the La Asuncion Church was declared a National Monument in 1932. It was constructed by Francisco Javier Pedrajas between 1772 and 1784. The chapel has an octagonal floor plan and is completely covered with Rococo plaster decoration and is a masterpiece of the Spanish Baroque. There is a tabernacle by the sculptor Manuel Garnelo that was finished in 1921. The church was constructed by the Marquis of Priego in 1525 and the original design was Gothic and Mudejar, with three naves and pointed arches, with a Mudejar roof. The Door of Santa Ana has elaborate Plateresque design and came from Martin de Bolivar. There is a tower from 1541. The side chapel of Christ Crucified has a figure of Christ by Alonso de Mena from 1635. The main altar dates from 1567 and has paintings by Pedro de Raxis and Gines Lopez. There is a beautiful chapel to the Virgen de la Soledad, whose saint day is celebrated on May 16.
Priego de Cordoba Castle
This Moorish fortress dates from the 12th century and was declared a National Artistic/Historic Monument in 1943. The fort has an austere appearance and has a quadrangular design with several square towers, and with a tower in the middle. The entrance of the castle has two horseshoe pointed arches that are framed by a frieze. The castle was rebuilt in the 13th and14th centuries. At one time the castle belong to the Order of Calatrava. The castle is currently under restoration.
Balcon de Adarve
The Balcon de Adarve is a balcony with a view. It is set on the edge of a cliff and forms a natural balcony that used to be used for the town's defense. There is a wonderful view of the Andalusian countryside from this point. There is a beautiful statue of a nude youth with an eagle that is dedicated to the creators of the artistic patrimony. Another small statue of a boy represents the actor and singer Joselito, who filmed the famous movie "Saeta del Ruiseñor" in the town in 1957. There are three fountains with potable drinking water.
The Barrio de la Villa
The Barrio de la Villa is the original Moorish center of the town and was designated as the Historic Center of Priego in 1972. It has narrow and winding streets with small squares with whitewashed walls. The walls of the streets are adorned with flowerpots full of colorful geraniums. The ambiance of this barrio is that of the romantic past, and is a blend of peace and beauty. It is called the Little Albaicin, alluding to the quarter in Granada. The area contains the Plaza Santa Ana, the Plaza de San Antonio, the Calle Real and Calle Jazmines.
The Carnicerias Reales is the building that was the abattoir and market in the 16th century. It was designed by Francisco del Castillo. The main front has a Mannerist architecture influenced by Italian design, with columns that have a triangular pediment. There is a beautiful patio with half-rounded arches resting on stone pillars. There is an impressive spiral staircase made of stone that goes down to the basement, where the abattoir was located.
House Museum of Niceto Alcala Zamora y Torres
The Calle Rio contains the mansion where Niceto Alcala Zamora was born. He was the president of the second Spanish republic and he was the one who gave the vote to women. After the Civil War, he was exiled to Argentina, where he died. The two lower floors have the personal effects, documents, photographs and paintings of Don Niceto. There are furniture and accessories of that period. There is a patio and garden in the back with the bust of Don Niceto.
Fuente del Rey
The King's Fountain is the emblematic National Monument of Priego. It was began in the 16th century, rebuilt several times after the 16th century and finally completed in 1803 with a Baroque design by Remigio del Marmol. There are three ponds on different levels, containing 139 water spouts that emerge from the faces of stone gargoyles. The first level has the figure of a lion battling a serpent, created by Alvarez Cubero, a neo-classical sculptor. The second level has the figures of Neptune with his wife Amphtitrite, riding on a chariot pulled by horses. The third basin contains the mouth of Clero where the water disappears. Clero is a humorous reference to the clergy who funded the monument.
Fuente de la Salud
Just above the Fuente del Rey is the Fuente de la Salud, the Fountain of Health. The legend is that it was the site where King Alfonso XI once pitched his tent. The fountain was used to channel the spring which served the town. It was built in the 16th century by Francisco del Castillo, with the help of the local mason, Alonso Gonzalez Bailen. The facade has a Mannerist style, with a lattice of polychromed marble. The center is a niche with the sculpture of the Virign. The rocks below have bas-reliefs that show a mythological theme containing the figures of Neptune, Amphitrite, and Medusa. There is a religious bas relief of a shepherd with his flock. This fountain is also a National Monument.