Pueblos Blancos

 

The Cadiz town of Espera, which forms part of the Route of the Pueblos Blancos, is located in the vicinity of the Sierra of Cadiz, with its urban center on the slopes of the Fatetar Hill. Located 82 kilometers from the capital, the municipality is bordered to the north by Utrera, to the east by Villamartín and Bornos, to the south by Arcos de la Frontera and Jerez and to the west by Lebrija.

 

The first traces of civilization date back to the Palaeolithic period, thanks to the sites of carved stone tools found in the municipality. Various archaeological finds also confirm the presence of civilizations such as Iberian, Carthaginian and Turdetan. However, it was not until the Roman invasion that the villas of Carissa Aurelia and Esperilla, in the vicinity of present-day Espera, appeared.

 

The arrival of the Visigoths led to the building of a fort where the Fatetar Castle now stands. Subsequently, the Nasrid invasion led to the disappearance of Carissa and the foundation of a village surrounded by a new wall.

 

The Christian reconquest took the alcazaba as a fortress until the end of the conquest of the kingdom of Granada. With the fall of the Muslim territory, the castle ceased to serve as a defense and a process of repopulation of the area began, with the construction of houses in the lower areas. Thus, two urban centers were formed: Old Villa, inside the castle walls, and New Villa, where Espera is currently located.

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LOCAL FESTIVITIES

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HISTORIC HERITAGE

Historic Heritage

Saint María de Gracia Parish Church

The Saint María de Gracia Parish Church is a Renaissance religious building built between the 16th and 18th centuries. This prolongation in time of its construction is due to the earthquakes that struck the town in 1636 and 1755. With a Greek cross plan, the façade and the main altarpiece belong to Baroque architecture. Until 1628, the name of the temple referred to Santa María de la Victoria, but from 1633 onwards it changed its name to the one it still bears today. Inside, the main altarpiece is preserved, which consists of canvases representing the Annunciation, Presentation, Visitation, Transfiguration, Epiphany and Adoration of the Shepherds. Also of note is the image of the Santo Cristo de la Antigua, which is venerated in the hermitage of the castle. This pictorial composition had to be dismantled after the damage suffered in the Lisbon earthquake, which caused the church to be closed until 1963.

Hermitage of Santiago

The Hermitage of Santiago is located inside the Fatetar Castle, but this one is completely preserved. It consists of a nave with a barrel vault and a doorway with Baroque archetype features. Its interior houses an image of the Cristo de la Antigua, a sculpture of the patron saint of the town dating from the 16th century.

Tithes Mill

One of the most emblematic buildings in the town is the Tithes Mill, an 18th century Andalusian construction whose purpose was to be a center for the collection of taxes such as tithes or first fruits. The building was constructed in 1771 by the incumbents of the churches of Sevilla. With the confiscations of 1835, all the property belonging to the Church began to be put up for sale, including the Mill, which was put up for auction in 1875. Since 1878, the House of the Cilla, as it is also known, has belonged to a small family olive company that has been producing olive oil for five generations, combining traditional production techniques with modern technological advances.

Iberian Settlement of Esperilla

Another historical landmark of great interest is the Iberian Settlement of Esperilla, an Ibero-Roman site of which remains from the Neolithic and Metal Age have been preserved. The remains of ancient houses, walls, underground water reservoirs and sculptures can be visited. Cremation tombs and figurines of warriors and women have also been preserved, which can be related to pre-Roman art. The fortress surrounding the settlement is the work of Latin peoples, although it is in ruins. It is free to visit.

Fatetar Castle

No consensus has been reached on the date of the construction of Fatetar Castle, although remains have been found that could belong to the Neolithic period. Tales such as that of King Hesperus establish the origin of the castle as a religious temple or astronomical observatory. Although it is true that the building has been reinforced by civilizations such as the Iberians or the Turdetans, who settled in the area at different periods, there are also experts who place the origin of the castle in Roman times.

Archaeological Sites of Carissa Aurelia

One of the main tourist attractions of the municipality are the Archaeological Sites of Carissa Aurelia, Roman remains declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, located between small hills in the vicinity of the Sierras of Gamaza and Calvary. Thanks to different research, it has been possible to situate the occupation of this territory between the end of the Neolithic or Chalcolithic period and the medieval period.

Archaeological Museum

At the end of 2007, Espera opened its Archaeological Museum with the aim of housing all the archaeological remains that bring us closer to the history of the town. The remains found in Carissa Aurelia and Esperilla have made up an extensive catalog of objects from the period, which are currently on display in the museum rooms. The building that serves as a gallery is an 18th century manor house.

Diocesan Sanctuary of the Santísimo Cristo of La Antigua

The temple, attached to the Fatetar Castle, was built during the 13th century once the area was pacified. In its interior are preserved the remains of Saint Prudencio – brought from the cemetery of Saint Calixto de Roma – and the carving of the Santo Cristo de la Antigua, patron saint of Espera. The nave has a simple floor plan with barrel vaults and ribbed vaults, in which the baroque altarpiece of Santo Cristo, Saint Isidoro of Sevilla and Santiago stands out.

Routes

Hondilla Lake

The smallest of the three reservoirs, Hondilla Lake, has an almost circular perimeter and, despite its name, is the shallowest. The scarce presence of mineral salts in its waters favors the development of a very particular flora, with two exclusive floating species, the utricularia australis and the floating liverwort.

Sweet Lake of Zorrilla

The Sweet Lake of Zorrilla is located further south than the other two that make up the complex. Being the deepest, it has greater hydrographic stability, is inhabited by algae and a multitude of aquatic species.

Espera Endorheic Complex

The Espera Endorheic Complex is a landscape enclave made up of three lagoons declared as Integrated Zoological Reserves: Hondilla, Salty of Zorrilla and Sweet of Zorrilla. The area has more than 400 hectares of great ecological value, being a place of conservation of bird species, some of them in danger of extinction.

Salty Lake of Zorilla

The Salty Lake of Zorilla is the largest of the three lagoons in the environment, covering approximately 23 hectares. Relatively deep, its appearance is varied by several artificially constructed dykes. It concentrates a high quantity of mineral salts, hence its name.

Local festivities

Living Nativity Scene

The Living Nativity Scene is one of the most fun and eagerly awaited activities of the Christmas season. The whole town throws itself into the recreation of biblical passages in locations such as the lower areas of Fatetar Mount or the Cave of the Castle. This attractive tourist offer is accompanied by a tasting of Christmas products.

White Night

In the summer of 2008 the celebration of the White Night, a day of extensive cultural programming with different themes. Plays, puppet shows, classical music concerts, open days at the Museum, poetry recitals, rock performances, storytellers and fun runs are just some of the many activities organized for this occasion.

Cavalcade of the Three Wise Men

On the eve of Three Kings’ Day, the traditional Cavalcade of the Three Wise Men takes to the streets of Espera, accompanied by their pages, who throw sweets and make children nervous about the presents that their Majesties the Three Kings of Orient will hand out at night.

Fatetar Folk

In response to the high demand from folk music fans, Fatetar Folk was created in 2004. The festival, which is in charge of the Municipal Delegation of Culture, is committed to amateur groups at a national level for the promotion of this type of music. It is an event that tries to keep the music of typical Andalusian folklore alive.

Turkey Marathon

On Three kings Day a special competition takes place in the town, the Turkey Marathon. A 16-kilometer race, mostly through the streets of the municipality, which has established itself as one of the most important sporting events in the region.

Medieval Market

For three days at the end of November, the town of Espera holds its Medieval Market. Los Toros street is the place chosen for the setting up of different stalls where typical products of the area are sold and tasted, as well as artisan products whose manufacture can be seen at the time. These days are accompanied by shows, exhibitions, dance performances, games and music.

Pilgrimage of Saint Bernardino

Shortly after the Fair will come the Pilgrimage of San Bernardino, a celebration marked by the pilgrimage of carts and the faithful who accompany the Cruz de May to the fairground, where a conviviality marked by music and food will take place.

Carnival

The arrival of March brings with it the celebration of the Carnival of Espera, where the parade of floats and the ‘comparsas’ become the real subjects. The famous “Chorizá” puts the finishing touches to this week.

Cross of May Festival

The Cross of May Festival is one of the most eagerly awaited celebrations in the calendar of the town. The switching of the funfair’s lights marks the beginning of the festivities where the fairground becomes the stage for tasting typical products and endless hours of fun to the rhythm of sevillanas. The “Senior Citizens’ Lunch” is one of the most significant events in the fair programme, along with concerts, sporting events and bullfighting.

Emigrant Party

The people of Espera do not forget those who had to pack their bags and leave the municipality in search of employment and economic stability. As a tribute, cultural and musical activities are organized in August around the Emigrant Party.

Elderly Cultural Week

The Elderly Cultural Week, held in November, is a seven-day programme of cultural, recreational and informative activities aimed at paying tribute to the senior citizens of Espera.

Holy Week

Holy Week in Espera is a clear reflection of the deep fervor of the people for one of the most deeply rooted traditions in Andalusia. Seven days where the processions of five brotherhoods cause feelings and faith on edge. (Semana Santa)

Corpus Christi

It is celebrated in the old town, located in the streets surrounding the Church of Saint Maria de Gracia, where altars of great beauty are erected by brotherhoods and parish associations.

Patron Saint Festivities in Honor of the Saint Cristo de la Antigua

The end of the summer season, with the arrival of September, marks the beginning of the Patron Saint Festivities in Honor of the Saint Cristo de la Antigua, a festivity declared of National Tourist Interest in Andalusia. On the first Sunday of the month the celebration begins with the move of the image from the Hermitage of Santiago to the Parish Church of Santa María de Gracia, where the corresponding mass is celebrated in honor of the patron saint. During the evenings, the traditional soirées provide entertainment and amusement for the locals and visitors. On these dates the “Rosario de la Aurora” also takes place, in which the faithful walk through the streets of the town singing the rosary for a week. The patron saint festivities end with the return of the image to the hermitage.

Puppet Festival

One of the most eagerly awaited summer events for children is the Puppet Festival, a programme of theatrical performances with puppets.

Tapas Route

At the end of the year, the Tapas Route takes place, a tasting of typical local dishes that attracts visitors from all over the region.

Flamenco Night

Guitar, flamenco and dance become the unique subject of the annual Flamenco Night, an event organized by the Cultural Association Peña Flamenca “Aires de Espera” that attracts every year more and more lovers of traditional Andalusian music.

Gastronomy

GASTRONOMY

Espera is well known for its production of high-quality olive oil from its mills, as well as its handmade buns. In confectionery, we find delicacies such as ‘rosquetes’, ‘borrachos’, Easter flapjacks, ‘alpargatas’ and ‘torrijas’.

What to do

Espera

Corpus Christi

It is celebrated in the old town, located in the streets surrounding the Church of Saint Maria de Gracia, where altars of great beauty are erected by brotherhoods and parish associations.

Espera

Flamenco Night

Guitar, flamenco and dance become the unique subject of the annual Flamenco Night, an event organized by the Cultural Association Peña Flamenca “Aires de Espera” that attracts every year more and more lovers of traditional Andalusian music.

Espera

Cross of May Festival

The Cross of May Festival is one of the most eagerly awaited celebrations in the calendar of the town. The switching of the funfair’s lights marks the beginning of the festivities where the fairground becomes the stage for tasting typical products and endless hours of fun to the rhythm of sevillanas. The “Senior Citizens’ Lunch” is one of the most significant events in the fair programme, along with concerts, sporting events and bullfighting.

Espera

Turkey Marathon

On Three kings Day a special competition takes place in the town, the Turkey Marathon. A 16-kilometer race, mostly through the streets of the municipality, which has established itself as one of the most important sporting events in the region.

Espera

Holy Week

Holy Week in Espera is a clear reflection of the deep fervor of the people for one of the most deeply rooted traditions in Andalusia. Seven days where the processions of five brotherhoods cause feelings and faith on edge. (Semana Santa)

Espera

Pilgrimage of Saint Bernardino

Shortly after the Fair will come the Pilgrimage of San Bernardino, a celebration marked by the pilgrimage of carts and the faithful who accompany the Cruz de May to the fairground, where a conviviality marked by music and food will take place.

How to get there

Espera is a town located in the province of Cádiz, next to the Cerro of Fatetar. It borders Seville to the north and it is 82 kilometres from the capital of Cadiz.

From Seville, the AP-4 will allow us to reach the municipality in the quickest way.

From Cádiz, take the AP-4 and then the A-382 to reach Espera. 

From Jerez de la Frontera, follow the route along the A-382.

From Malaga, the shortest route is the A-357 and then the Carretera of Antequera or A-384.

From Ronda, take the A-374 and the A-384 to reach the town.

DAMAS has an intercity line from Seville and Jerez de la Frontera to Espera. You can find all the information about the route on their website. 

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