Jul 17 2008

Cabra Spanish Style

Published by at 7:29 am under News

Cabra is the modern Spanish word for goat, but the origin of this town’s name is probably not found in local flocks. In fact, Cabra more likely descends from “Al-Cabri” a local poet from the 10th century whose full name was Muqaddan Irn Muafaa. This would take us back to the town’s Arab heritage. The history of Cabra, however, goes even farther back with experts tracing it to the Palaeolithic age. Later it became an important part of the Roman empire. During the Visigothic period, the town reached new heights of splendour and became an Episcopal see. However, when the Muslims came, Cabra became the capital of the province and an important centre of olive oil production. Cabra is also rich in churches, including the spectacular Asuncion y Angeles converted from a mosque to church, but still retaining its 44 dramatic red marble columns, reminiscent of the mosque in Cordoba, and its five naves. This magnificent church has an 18th century red marble altarpiece by Melchor de Aguirre.Across the Plaza Vieja is the church of San Juan de Dios, founded in 1568, and extensively rebuilt in the 18th century to feature some extraordinary baroque interior design: a high balustrade worked in an undulating formation to suggest the walls are moving. The town is also full of convents and senorial houses, one of which is the seat of the Cabra Philharmonic Orchestra. Meanwhile the Condes de Cabra palace is now used by nuns as a convent. Cabra’s  Museo de Aceite (olive oil museum), well worth a visit. It was built in the middle of the nineteenth century, and now traces the 2,000 year history of olive oil in the area, including life-size reconstructions of Greek and Roman presses. The famous Andaucian diplomat, politician and writer Juan Valera was born in Cabra and his home has been turned into a museum which is open to the public. In 1240 the town became part of Castille until 1455, when it was given to Don Diego Fernandez of Cordoba as a “condado”, roughly the equivalent of an earldom (or county), by Henry IV.Every town and village in Andalucia offers local specialities worth trying and Cabra is no different. If you’re just visiting for a short time, stop for a coffee and a pastry in the Plaza de España which offers an excellent selection of local “pasteles”. The best are supposed to be the “bizcotelas” by the Madres Agustinas. Also highly recommended are the pestiños and the gajorros. If you’re planning to enjoy lunch or dinner in Cabra then ask your waiter for a local speciality (“un plato típico) and you’ll surely be served a savoury meat and vegetable plate.

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