"The City of Sun and
Towers" is surrounded by hills on one side and the Genil
River on the other, creating an unforgettable sight with its
eleven towers, fifteen bell towers, churches, palaces and belvederes,
thrusting up from the mass of white houses. This sight alone
makes it clear to the traveller why Ecija is considered to
be one of southern Europe's most fascinating ancient towns.
In the 18th century, its artists and craftsmen endowed it with
a truly astounding number of artistic and architectural masterpieces.
Five of its buildings have been classified as national heritage
sites, and we will describe them further on. Viewed as a whole,
the outstanding features are the remains of the fortified walls,
and the charming Andalusian whitewashed houses, lining the
streets of the old Moorish town.
The local cuisine includes a wide number of regional specialties,
such as cazuela de esparragos (baked young asparagus), espinacas
labradas (Andalusian style spinach), and salmorejo, a sort
of gazpacho. Sweets include bizcochos marroquies (Morrocan
cake) and yemas ecijanas (candied egg yolks). Also noteworthy
are the molletes (soft rolls) and the tortas de manteca (flat
cakes made with lard).
The local feast days are: Saint Paul (the patron saint) on
25 January; Carnival; Holy Week; the feast day of Ecija's patroness,
the Virgen del Valle, on 8 September; Saint Matthew's Fair
in the days before and after 21 September, which are the occasion
of the Week of the Horse (Semana del Caballo), a major event
in the local calendar, since Ecija is the home to horse breeding
ranches with names such as Los Abades, San Pablo, Alcorrin,
and Casas Albas.
1. CHURCH OF SANTA BARBARA
The bell tower is in the Gothic-Mudejar style; the church
is one of Andalusia's earliest Neoclassical churches, with
two monumental entrances with granite column shafts from the
Roman period. The figures of Jesus sin soga and the Virgen
del Patroncinio are by the Sevillian sculptor Montes de Oca
(18th century). The figure of Saint Paul is by the local sculptor
Salvador G. De Navajas (16th century). The Rococo choir, carved
in mahogany, is considered to be the town's loveliest. The
dome and plasterwork of the sanctuary chapel are of the 18th
2. PALACE OF PEÑAFLOR
This palace has a beautiful marble door of pink marble, and
a curving balcony which runs the full length of the facade,
painted with trompe l'oeil architectural details. The interior
is well appointed, with a fine central patio, stables and main
staircase. Classified as a national heritage site.
3. PALACE OF VALDEHERMOSO
Located in front of the Palace of Peñaflor; the 16th
century Plateresque façade is distinguished by a balcony
framed by highly original columns.
4. CHURCH OF SAN GIL
Paintings on wood of the life of Saint Gilles and the Fathers
of the Church, by Alejo Fernandez (16th century). The sanctuary
aisle contains handsome altarpieces of the 18th century; the
main nave houses the miraculous figure of the Cristo de la
Salud (16th century). The Neoclassical altarpiece of the retrochoir
contains beautiful stucco work, as well as a painting of the
Virgen del Rosario (18th century). Lavish Rococo dome of the
baptisterium with baptismal font of red veined marble (18th
5. CHURCH OF SANTA ANA
This church, with its rectangular ground plan, dates from
the second third of the 18th century. The main altarpiece is
Neoclassical. The church contains a group of sculptures of
the 18th century representing Saint Anne with the Virgin Mary;
there is also a 17th century crucifix.
6. CHURCH OF SAN JUAN
After passing the 18th century Baroque Palacio de Alcantara
and the chapel of San Felipe Neri, we come to the church of
San Juan. On the great entrance courtyard stands part of an
unfinished Neoclassical church, designed by the Cordovan architect
Ignacio Tomas. The current church is located in the Renaissance-style
nave of the former sanctuary, with a beautiful, coffered dome
built in 1608. The 18th century bell tower, designed by local
architects A. Corrales and Lucas Bazan, is the city's finest
and considered to be one of Andalucia's most outstanding Baroque
7. CHURCH OF SAN PABLO AND SANTO DOMINGO
Composed of three naves, the building as it stands today was
built in the last part of the 16th century and the first part
of the 17th with the bell tower being added much later in 1761.
Among the sculptures to be seen in this church is a figure
of Saint Paul (dated 1575), one of Saint Dominic (end of the
18th century) and one of Christ bound to the column (1510).
Coffered ceiling built towards the end of the 16th century.
One of Ecija's most sumptuous Baroque interiors is to be found
in the Capilla del Rosario, including a Virgin Mary attributed
to Pedro Millan.
8. NOBLE MANORS
Near the end of the Calle Garcilaso we come to a handsome,
17th century noble manor, in the Baroque style, and going down
towards the left I another, in the Renaissance style. Don't
miss the 18th century Baroque door on the Calle Aguabajo.
9. CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO
This church has three naves; although initially built in the
Gothic style, it was totally reconstructed in the 18th century.
The door dates from the 17th century. The main altarpiece built
in 1730, contains sculptures of Franciscan Saints. The left
nave of the church contains a sculpture of Christ bound to
the column, from the end of the 16th century.
10. CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA
Standing on the square which bears its name, this church dates
from the first half of the 16th century. It is composed of
three naves plus a half nave containing the sacramental chapel;
it has tow external doors and a bell tower. The decoration
of the lower part of the building, built in 1717, is severe;
the rest is of Rococo influence. The seats of the choir, built
in 1628, are attributed to Juan de Mesa, a local craftsman.
Many paintings hang on the walls of the church, most of them
of the 18th century. The galleries of the patio contain a magnificent
collection of archaeological remains and a great number of
impressive religious garments, dating from the 17th, 18th and
19th centuries, as well as fine examples of gold and silverwork
dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The illustrated
choir books date from the mid-16th to the end of the 18th century.
11. BENAMEJI PALACE
Built in the 18th century and classified as a national heritage
site. Beautiful marble door; the stables house and interesting
collection o antique horse-drawn carriages.
12. CHURCH OF SANTIAGO
We pass in front of the church of the Hermanas de la Cruz
and walk to the Plaza de Santiago, on which stands the church
of the same name. This is one of Andalucia's most important
buildings in the Gothic Mudejar style. The paintings of the
main altarpiece are attributed to Alejo Fernandez. The ground
plan is rectangular and formed by three naves. The church overlooks
a trapezoidal patio and has a brick bell tower. The main altarpiece
dates from the first half of the 16th century. The sculpture
of Christ on the Cross, dated 1685, is by Pedro Roldan. The
church possesses and important collection of paintings by Pedro
de Campaña, of the mid 16th century. The centre of the
altarpiece of the sacramental chapel contains a relief of the
Holy Supper, from the mid 16th century. The ewer (wash basin)
in the sacristy is in white, black and pink marble, made in
1740 by Pedro Fernandez. The gold and silverwork ranges from
the first half of the 16th century to the early 19th century.
13. CHURCH OF LA CONCEPCION
Founded in 1592, this church is composed of a single nave;
the door is Renaissance and the main altarpiece (17th century)
contains a Virgin Mary by Gaspar de Aguila (16th century).
14. CHURCH OF EL CARMEN
This church is believed to have been founded in the first
half of the 16th century. Its two naves are home to a large
collection of paintings: in the main altarpiece (18th century),
is a lovely image of the Virgen del Carmen, from the first
half of the 18th century. The group of La Piedad is attributed
to Jorge Fernandez (16th century).
15. COURT HOUSE
Built in 1923. Decorated in the Neo-Moorish style, with tiles
from the Kierman factory.
16. CHURCH OF LOS DESCALZOS
Inaugurated in 1614, this church has a single nave. The chancel
dates from the first half of the 18th century. One of the most
lavish 18th century Baroque interiors in Andalucia.
17. CONVENT OF LOS MARROQUIES
Composed of a single nave with an impressive coffered ceiling
in the Mudejar style. The right hand wall contains a number
of Neoclassical altarpieces with fine sculptures including
a Christ on the Cross of the end of the 15th century. The sacristy
houses lovely pieces of gold and silverwork, most of which
are of the 18th century.
18. CHURCH OF SANTA CRUZ
Built between 1776 and 1836. The main altarpiece is of the
first half of the 18th century. The altar table is formed by
a 5th century early Christian sarcophagus. The sculpture of
Christ on the Cross was made by Gaspar del Aguila in 1567.
In one of the church's three naves is a fine sculpture of the
Virgen del Valle of the end of the 13th century. The church
also contains an outstanding painting entitled Christ Source
of Life (Cristo Fuente de la Vida), created by Pedro Villegas
Marmolejo in 1550. In one of the chapels is the figure of Christ
Resurrected (circa 1600). This church is a virtual museum of
the gold and silverwork of Ecija, containing objects such as
the monstrance made by the silversmith Alfaro in 1586.
19. CONVENT OF LAS TERESAS
Previously an ancient Mudejar palace, this convent was built
in the 14th and 15th centuries. The small church was built
in the 17th century. One of the altarpieces is dedicated to
Saint Teresa (17th century).
20. OTHER CHURCHES
Iglesia de las Salesianas, Iglesia de la Victoria, Iglesia
del Convento de Santa Florentina, Iglesia de las Madres Filipenses,
Iglesia de San Sebastian, Iglesia del Convento de Sant Ines
del Valle and the Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Valle..
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