Monuments open · winter time
from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
· Santuario Virgen de las Maravillas (only mornings) ·
· Palacio Jaspe ·
· Museo Arqueológico ·
· Ermita de la Concepción ·
· Iglesia de Santa María Magdalena ·
· Escuela del Vino (mornings) ·
· Begastri (10:10 a.m. / 11:15 a.m. / 12:30 a.m.) ·
CONVENTO DE SAN ESTEBAN E IGLESIA DE LAS MARAVILLAS
El convento de San Esteban es, sin duda, uno de los edificios emblemáticos de nuestra localidad y de los más queridos por la población, por acoger la comunidad de frailes de San Francisco. Se encuentra íntimamente relacionado con la iglesia de Las Maravillas, donde se alberga desde el año 1725 la Patrona de la Ciudad de Cehegín, Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, desde entonces custodiada por los frailes franciscanos.
Por Real Orden del rey don Felipe II, de 31 de julio del año 1566, se fundó dicho convento, llevando el título de San Esteban Protomártir, que con el paso del tiempo se convertirá en una enseña para la villa de Cehegín, tanto por la querencia que los cehegineros, desde muy tempranamente, sintieron por los frailes, como por la creación en el año 1690 del Colegio Seráfico de Misioneros Apostólicos, que adquiriría fama por doquier. El edificio fue edificado sobre una antigua ermita del siglo XV que estaba bajo la advocación de San Esteban, en el paraje que en aquella época se denominaba como “El Romeral”.
Tenemos en las actas capitulares un documento muy interesante, de 29 de abril de 1515, que nos hace referencia a la elección de un nuevo mayordomo para la ermita, sobre la que posteriormente se edificaría el convento franciscano. Un fragmento de dicho documento, nos dice:
“Este día, por quanto Alonso Carreño, vecino de esta dicha villa, que aya Santa Gloria… El qual en su vida o tiempo, prinçipió e tovo a cargo la edificación e cargo de la ermita del señor san Esteban, que es en do dizen el Romeral, en el campo…”
La iglesia acoge en su interior a María Santísima de las Maravillas, desde el año 1725, que al poco tiempo de llegar se convirtió en la nueva patrona de la villa de Cehegín por la gran devoción que el pueblo tomó a esta hermosa Imagen. Fue en este año cuando, por la tenacidad del padre Francisco Moreno Pastor, llegó Nuestra Señora a Cehegín, gracias al mecenazgo de don Pedro Antonio Pereti, que la costeó a su cuenta, encargada a un escultor napolitano, Nicola Fumo. Ya en el año 1729 el Concejo de la Villa la declaró como su abogada y protectora comprometiéndose a dar 150 reales para costear dicha función, sermones y otros gastos. Comenzaron las fiestas a la Virgen de Las Maravillas, tomando para ello un día de las que se celebraban para el patrón San Zenón.
La Virgen de las Maravillas es una talla en madera con el Niño tomado en el brazo derecho y que a nivel iconográfico se representa como una Virgen del Rosario. Es una preciosa obra, de gran calidad artística, muestra del barroco italiano de la primera mitad del siglo XVIII. Tiene una altura de un metro y treinta centímetros, está tallada y policromada sin alteraciones importantes con respecto a la excepcional policromía original. Son de destacar en ella el rostro y mirada serena de la Virgen y el Niño, el espectacular trabajo realizado por el escultor con los pliegues de la ropa, el tratamiento de la simetría marcado por la curvatura de la cintura, que produce en el que la mira una cierta sensación de movimiento, y también de cercanía al que la observa. La Virgen sostiene al niño con su brazo derecho mientras lo sujeta tiernamente con el izquierdo, con gesto maternal y humano.
En su historia, el convento ha pasado por muchos avatares, como el saqueo que los franceses, durante la Guerra de la Independencia, al mando del Mariscal Soult realizaron durante una semana en Cehegín, en el mes de septiembre del año 1812, cuando intentaban llevar a cabo su retirada desde Andalucía en dirección la levante. Entonces, los frailes escondieron la imagen de la Patrona en el barranco de la Jabalina mientras escampaba la tormenta.
En el año 1836 se produjo la exclaustración, de modo que todos los frailes tuvieron que salir de la comunidad. Aunque se intentó vender el edificio, no fue posible por la negativa de los alcaldes de Cehegín, y mucho menos sobre la venta de la iglesia, ya que acogía la imagen de Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas. La exclaustración duró hasta el año 1878, cuando se permitió volver a los religiosos y crear de nuevo la comunidad. Desde entonces, solo durante el periodo de la Guerra Civil quedó el edificio sin los franciscanos. Decir que fue cárcel de mujeres durante esos años.
Desde el siglo XVI ha sufrido multitud de remodelaciones; las más importantes se realizaron en el siglo XVIII, en las que se demuelen gran parte de los muros de la iglesia para agrandarla, así como elevarla, por lo que portada principal de piedra labrada se derriba parcialmente enmascarando el resto y ganando altura. La torre se eleva considerablemente y se cubre el ladrillo visto al igual que los entrepaños de mampostería de le daban su anterior aspecto; se le construye una linterna en su parte superior que le sirve de campanario.
La obra mas importante fue la construcción del camarín para instalar con la dignidad apropiada a la Virgen de las Maravillas, así como el retablo barroco del altar mayor, en el año 1730, solo cinco años después de la llegada de la Imagen.
La última obra importante se realiza demoliendo la capilla de la Venerable Orden Tercera de San Francisco, que ocupaba un brazo del crucero, y construyendo la actual capilla de San José, siendo esta una verdadera Iglesia dentro de otra.
En la zona conventual cabe destacar el claustro barroco de su interior sobre el cual gira el resto de las edificaciones del Convento.
En los años 40 del pasado siglo XX se rehace en su totalidad la fachada, demoliendo la anterior de yeso. En 1999 se lleva a cabo la restauración actual, rehaciendo en jaspe rojo de la Pena Rubia la fachada del siglo XVIII, así como limpiando la torre y dejado su aspecto primitivo, conservando la linterna del segundo cuerpo.
IGLESIA DE LA SOLEDAD
The façade of the church has a simple structure and is very plain. The only elements that you see are the entrance door and the windows of the choir. On the left hand side there is a tower dating from 1788. It is constructed on three levels. The highest part containing the bell is octagonal in shape decorated with encased pillars. The style of the tower is something between the Baroque and early Neoclassicism.
The church is located in the neighbourhood of Cubo, alongside the Argos River. It was started in 1595 under the direction of the brotherhood of solitude, whose work included, helping the penitent, assistance with burials and organising the procession on Good Friday.
In the beginning, the church was a modest building which had a single nave and a pitched roof. It was not until the 17th century when it was transformed into the structure that you can see today.
The alterations were directed by the master masons Salvador Marín and Salvador Martínez, both residents of the town. The church is of concrete block construction known as mampostería.
The church stands on cruciform pillars which have smooth shafted pillars attached which support the arches of the vaulted ceiling. Rosettes that can be seen in the centre of each vault are similar to those seen in the Iglesia de la Concepción.
The main chapel has a different finish. Here you will see a vaulted ceiling decorated with plasterwork which divides the area into sections. In the centre you will see a large rosette with the vaults radiating outwards. Each of the vaults on the side aisles has in its centre inverted pinnacles which display the symbols of the passion. During the alterations in the 17th century, the number of aisles was increased to three. The central one is now much wider than the other two. The layout then became more of a basilica style as the three aisles remained at almost the same height. At the rear of the church is the high choir with a railing that possibly dates from the 16th century. In the 19th century it was feared that the choir was collapsing and so a marble column (perhaps from Begastri) which stands on a high plinth was added to strengthen the area. Today the Church has been completely restored with the blue vaulted ceilings representing the sky, as well as being the colour attributed to the Virgin Mary, while the white walls symbolise her purity.
The decoration of the altarpiece on the high altar is outstanding and dates from the 18th century. It is constructed in three sections. The centre section is framed by two ribbed columns and contains the image of the Virgin. At the top you will see a heart pierced with daggers, the symbol of the seven sorrows of Mary. The base is an altar decorated with the symbols of the passion. Also here you will see the Tabernacle that was made in the city of Lorca.
The Camarín and La Virgen de los Dolores
The church looks after the image of the Virgen de la Soledad, popularly known in Cehegín as our Virgen de los Dolores. The design of the shrine is typical of the 18th century with an opening at the side which allows some light into the area giving an air of mystery for the visitor. In the 19th century however, the area was covered in wood thanks to the initiative of Doña Isabel Ruiz Alvarez Castellanos. The decoration used was Neoclassicism, simulating marble, and you will also see representations of the seven daggers that went through the heart of Mary, the nails from the cross, as well as the Crown of thorns.
Inside the church there are a number very notable images, altarpieces and ornaments from the previous centuries.
Inside the shrine you will see the Virgen de los Dolores, a work of the 18th century Madrid school. Her face, of great beauty, shows the suffering of the Virgin on seeing her son dead, in the tomb. In her clasped hands is her heart, pierced by seven daggers, as a symbol of the great pain that she feels. The imagery is typically Spanish, because the depth of grief is also represented by her black robes and cloaks as if she was a true widow.
This image had a great following and therefore it is not surprising that she has had over the years a large number of cloaks embroidered by the most important families of town. Today she has two, the richest of which she wears in the processions of Holy week. It is embroidered with flowers and on the back is a symbol of María Reina. The silver crown she wears is topped with stars.
On the left hand side is an altarpiece made by Francisco Chamorro at the end of the 17th century in a very Baroque style. Within it lies the image of the Resurrected Christ made in a polychrome wood technique. With his right hand he is blessing the people and in his left hand he holds a cross. The movement of the image is marked by the bent position of the hip and the fact that the right leg is bending forwards while the left is backwards. This work is attributed to Nicholas de Bussi.
The tableau containing an image of San Nicholás de Bari was made at the end of the 16th century and consists of three levels, divided by four columns. You will see different paintings of San Juan Bautista, San Pablo, San Jose and San Pedro. Above these there is a representation of the crucifixion. At the apex appears the symbol of the Trinity. The sculpture of San Nicholás de Bari is made of carved wood in the polychrome technique. He is shown wearing a mitre and holding his staff in an attitude of blessing.
On the right hand side you will see the Reclining Christ a version of which has been displayed in the church since its foundation. However, in the 18th century a new image was made in carton piedra, which was much lighter than the existing representation and therefore made it easier to transport during the Good Friday procession.
The image is a sad one because you will see that Christ is portrayed bleeding from the mouth. His legs maintain the position that they would have been in when he was nailed on the cross. In order to carry the image of the reclining Christ in the processions a glass coffin was made by Higinio de Quintana. The tableau which is made in plaster has columns on both sides which were modified at the top to ensure that the glass coffin could be removed and replaced smoothly. The inner part of the tableau is painted with an empty Cross with two ladders leaning against it which refer to the removal of the body of Christ. This is framed by columns and arches. The decoration surrounding the central area is a painting that represents a richly decorated cloak draped over the whole tableau, which is typical of late 18th Century.
Also of note is the tableau of San Juan Evangelista which is Rococo in style and decorated with fluted columns and flowers and foliage.
The sculpture of San Francisco Javier dates from the eighteenth century. He is depicted wearing a tunic decorated with a gold border.
During the seven days prior to Viernes de Dolores (which is the Friday before Palm Sunday) a special prayer of Novena takes place. These are special songs and praises to La Virgen de la Soledad dating from the 18th century.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the Governing Council of the Region of Murcia has declared ‘Cultural Monument’ status to the Church of La Soledad. This is in addition to the title ‘Historic Artistic Site’ awarded to Cehegín in 1982.
ERMITA DE LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN
Façade of the Iglesia de la Concepcíon
Located on the highest part of Cehegín is the Iglesia de la Concepcíon. The building’s Mudejar decoration is outstanding and is the most important representation of the style in this region.
From the outside it looks a simple building with smooth walls and gabled roof with a large square courtyard at the front. On the right side you can see 5 buttresses which counteract the tremendous weight of the structure.
The modest façade is fashioned out of large blocks of stone. To the right and left there are openings that mark the position of the aisles inside. The access to the Church is through an archway formed by stones decorated with flowers. The arch is surrounded by a rectangular stone frame. On each side a small pillar that rests on a large plinth has been enclosed to retain the correct dimensions.
On the left is the Bell Tower with the clock that marks the passing of time not only in hours but in the lives of the people of the town.
This church was declared a national artistic historic monument in 1980.
The interior of Iglesia de la Concepcíon
The Church was run by the Cofradía, or brotherhood, de la Concepcíon caring for, and giving relief to the sick and the needy. In 1534 the brotherhood had been doing the same thing in the neighbouring town of Caravaca. Originally there was a hospital attached to the church but that has not survived to the present day. Nobody knows the full extent of the brotherhoods power, but it must have had a large income because of the privileged location of the Church and the exquisite decoration.
Building work began around 1538 and lasted until 1556. There is a stone on the left hand side of the church that confirms it was finished on January the 9th 1556.
For the construction work they called on master masons of the area, including Pedro de Homa and Martin de Homa both of whom were also working on the Church of Maria Magdalena. They would also have needed a great master carpenter, who along with the master stone mason, would give design and shape to the building. Martin de Homa is known to have raised the roof and the chapel of “El Salvador” and he also built the apse and part of the Church of the Concepcíon in Caravaca. He lived in Cehegín around 1540 and in 1543 and some of the other classical buildings of the town have been attributed to him.
The interior is divided into three sections with the centre aisle being much larger. In actual fact it is three times wider than the side ones which broke with the Renaissance style which was the traditional taste at the time.
The nave is itself divided into five sections. The first three are the same size, while the fourth is much longer and the fifth shorter. The semicircular apse was extended until it almost looks square.
The main altar area is a separate unit which you reach by climbing a few steps. The roof is unique because you can see an eight sided vault decorated with “Mocárabes” motifs.
The church stands on ten cruciform pillars with accompanying Doric columns except for the last two pillars nearest the altar where the style of the columns is Ionic.
If you look closely you will see that the ceiling does not rest directly on the arches, but is also supported by columns on the walls which are the same height and joined to the arches. In this way the ceiling is raised to double the height of the columns. So for the visitor, when you first enter the church, you cannot see the whole area as the space has been subdivided and this give rise to different contrasting light effects. The way the ceiling has been constructed was very old fashioned for the time when the renovation was done because normally pointed arches would have been used.
The ceiling of the Church has been constructed using three different styles. The first is a ribbed vault with triangular divisions. The second is gently pitched and covered in wood whilst the third, consists of smooth vaults with lunettes. The side aisle decoration dates from the 18th century when the Church was again extended by the addition of a chapel on the left hand side.
Each of the wooden ceilings of the main aisle is divided into squares and within each one appears a Holy Cross of Sepulchre. The areas are edged with ribbon like decoration showing symbols representing Mary such as stars and the moon.
The ceiling of the presbytery is of note because of the rich ‘Mocárabes’ decoration. Enclosed in a square frame the octagonal structure is the most outstanding feature in the Church. The ribbon type construction is typical and so are the bunches of grapes that appear in the four corners and the centre. These symbols are closely related to the Kingdom of Al Andalus, and above all with the last Nazari Kingdom which was located in Granada. The ceiling is reminiscent of the much finer one that can be seen in the Hospital Real de Granada.
In its original state, the golds and other dazzling colours would have contrasted brilliantly with the white walls.
The lighting effects are accentuated during night time celebrations when candles are used. During the masses in Latin when the congregation receive the sacraments the reflection on the walls and ceilings produces an air of mystery.
Chapel of San Juan de Letrán
Located on the left hand side is the chapel of San Juan de Letrán, which was built in the 18th century. Its square structure encloses a star-shaped vault that is divided into eight parts and decorated with paintings of wreaths, ribbons, angels and flowers. In between the arches, there are representations of the four evangelists, St Mark, St John, St. Luke, and St. Matthew.
Under these paintings you will see their iconic symbols which are a lion, an eagle, a bull and an angel respectively.
On the right, a wonderful painting simulates a large altarpiece which gives the illusion of greater depth.
In the niche is the image of San Ramón Nonato patron saint of childbirth, midwives, pregnant women and the secret of confession. A series of his prayers are told in the form of nine story boards that are reminiscent of children’s comics.
Mirador (The viewing point)
We are at the highest point of the town which is called El Paseo or the promenade. It was here, in bygone days, where festivities and band concerts were held in a gazebo.
From this area you have a panoramic view of the different style of roofs, from the medieval layout, where the barrel tile was used, up to more modern buildings. Below you can see the parks named after Juan Carlos the 1st and Gines el Ciego. These areas serve as a fairground during Carnival and Fiesta. Both parks are located in the residential Arron district, an area of detached houses, chalets and duplexes.
On the left you can see the plain of Argos, and below at the bottom of the view, there is the mountain hermitage of the Virgen de la Peña, a former patron of the town. This hermitage is located in Canara, an area bordering with Calasparra and Moratalla, and was built at the end of the reconquest to worship the Virgin Mary. The hermitage is one of the oldest in the area but was greatly altered in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The church is in the shape of a Latin cross with a single nave and apex roof. The interior is covered with wood. There is a dome over the centre and within the roof sections murals have been painted. The tower is in the style of the 18th century.
The neighbourhood or barrio of San Antonio grew around the canning factory, ‘La Verja’, located in front of you. If you look to the right you will see the Franciscan Convent and the wonderful façade of the old Seraphic school rising up in the distance. Continuing with your view to the right you will see the bullring, which about a kilometre from this spot.
ERMITA DE LA SANGRE DE CRISTO
This church is situated on the outskirts of the walls which flanked the old town of Cehegín. It was built at the end of the 16th century but was altered in the 17th century. It is a Renaissance church which when it was built would have had three naves but only two have survived. Inside the church is small with a gothic style vaulted ceiling. At the front there is a high choir and in the chancel there is an image of Christ by an anonymous artist dating from the 18th century.
The façade is divided into three sections, on the left you will see the Tower built of masonry and brick, whilst the entrance door is in the central part and is surrounded with marble in pure Baroque style. Diamond shapes enhance the pillars as well as the lintel. Above the door is a window decorated with pyramids and triangles. The local red marble called Jasper is used for the façade giving it a rich red and colourful decoration. The third section on the right hand side is now a private house.
This Chapel is currently the home of the brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazarene. On the morning of Good Friday the image of Jesus of Nazareth is brought out and carried up Cuesta Moreno to the Plaza del Mesoncico to meet with the image of the Virgen de los Dolores, and, following a mass they then process together up Calle Mayor to the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena.
IGLESIA PARROQUIAL DE SANTA MARÍA MAGDALENA
The main façade is located on the east side of the Church. Its construction took place after the completion of the church and is dated from the early 17th century.
The access door is designed as a Triumphal Arch, a semicircular arch with enclosed columns. Over the archway you will see a niche decorated with pinnacles on both sides, similar to those that can be seen at San Lorenzo de El Escorial the Royal Monastery in Madrid. In a gap in the pediment is another niche whose decoration looks like curtains or drapery making it a real curiosity. Professor Gutiérrez Cortines says that the figure in this niche is St. Crispin, but other historians disagree and consider that it is of San Miguel.
The decoration of the outside has a typical Italian Renaissance classicism feel which came to Spain in the first half of the 16th century through the ‘Escurialiensis Codex.’ This is a book from the monastery library of El Escorial that shows drawings and models of types of structural design, sculpture and painting that were being used throughout Spain during that time.
Originally when the tower was constructed it was very small. However in the 18th century, Martin Jiménez commissioned a new tower and this was inaugurated on the 20th of August 1768. The decoration is Mudéjar, a term coined by José Amador de los Ríos referring to the style used by the Muslims who stayed in Spain after the reconquest. Mudéjar, therefore, is a compilation of Muslim and Christian influence. The tower comprises of two floors, on the lower level there are arches divided by columns whilst the bells are located on the upper level. On the outside the use of bricks for decoration is reminiscent of the Church of San Martín in Teruel but here it is much simpler.
If you go down the steps in front of La Muralla and through the arch continuing to the bottom of the steps turn to your right and on the south western façade of the church you will see a stone block from Begastri with a funeral inscription dated from the 1st & 2nd centuries that reads: M. Fulvius M.L.Flaccus hic situs est.
In the book by Professor Gutiérrez Cortines, entitled ‘Renaissance and Religious architecture in the ancient Diocese of Cartagena’, the Church of Santa María Magdalena in Cehegín appears as one of the columnar churches. This was a term used by Elías Tormo for naming and classifying the churches of the Levant whose characteristic was the use of Greek style classical columns. In 1467 the President of the Order of Santiago in the area documented that a church should be built in the Plaza del Castillo.
The first church in 1497 had a vaulted ceiling and carved arches and was a building of great importance, but as the number of inhabitants increased it was felt that the church needed to be extended.
Early on the construction was stopped because unfortunately the plague of 1507 reduced the available number of workers. Over the next decade the population increased once more and building began again. In 1534 the Town Hall requested permission from the Crown to raise further funds. The surveyors, Jerónimo Quijano, who worked on the Cathedral of Murcia and the Chapel of the Junterones, and Pedro de Castañeda, were consulted on how and where the church should be extended because there were great differences in the surrounding land levels. The work also went through a series of economic setbacks because as well as remodelling the church, building was also continuing at the church of the Conception, the shrine of the Virgen de la Peña in Canara, the hermitage of Santa Barbara and the Convent of the Franciscans Fathers. The town could not cope with all the expenditure and the Town Hall did not want to spend too much money on all these projects. In addition the church was located behind the Castle which meant not only was access was very difficult for carrying out the construction, but that the Church was unseen and so the population was not excited about the renovations.
Furthermore, to carry out the expansion, the Church had to buy adjacent houses which meant even more money problems and so the materials they could afford to use were poor and simple.
The reports of Quijano and Castañeda indicated that the expansion should be towards the south, where the back door is now, at the foot of the temple, therefore retaining the gateway to the east. The surveyors, referred simply to an extension and not to the complete redesign that actually took place. The records do not agree on whether they were here in Cehegín at the time or if they were simply consulted on the technical solution. However, everything was dealt with in a non-expensive and even archaic way which is not normally seen in the constructive techniques of Quijano.
Following the studies of José María Alcázar Pastor, the official chronicler of Cehegín, it seems the work was put up for tender but using the plans drawn up by Quijano. Given the problems posed by the sloping land, the Town Hall delegated the work to the master builder Rodrigo de Gibarra, who had experience from the construction of the church in Huescar.
By 1549 the work had begun under the leadership of Juan de Prevés but he did not fulfil his contract, and so he was let go by the Town Hall. We do not know if he was asked back to complete the first part of the church or if this was undertaken by somebody else. It is not known why this man was even in the region, but the most logical thing is that stonemasons worked for the Order of Santiago and the documents tell of work at that time in the area of Uclés, so perhaps he had come here in search of employment.
The records show that Andrés de Plasencia, a master stonemason, also worked on the church renovations.
During the decade of the 1560’s the work was halted. The reason is unknown but was probably economic. On July the 17th 1575 the work was restarted. The Town Hall awarded the contract to Ginés de Jea who was then responsible for the completion of works. The writings of Martin Ambel confirm that he completed the construction and therefore almost all of the work on Santa María Magdalena can be attributed to him. This stone mason worked all over this area and you can see other works of his work in Moratalla and Caravaca de la Cruz.
At the end of construction Ginés de Jea, was old and sick, and could not complete the ceilings of the church. It is not known precisely who finished them but there is little mastery of execution and so it is thought that local builders completed the task.
The centre of the church`s cross vaulted ceiling has triangular sections within which you can see the iconic symbols of the Order of Santiago such as the ‘Santiaguista’ cross and Santiago on a horse. The ceilings on the side aisles are lower and have vaults of a different star shaped construction.
To carry out the transformation of the Church it was necessary to overcome two major problems. The first was the unevenness of the ground and the second was to raise the height of the building. The perfect measurement of a Temple at that time was thought to be in the ratio of 2m by 1m in its length and width. In fact the Temple area is 39.5m by 20m, so there is only a small error of half a meter. The nave also keeps to the rule of 2 for 1 as the central aisle is twice as big as the side aisles.
The elevation of the church was increased by added a second level of Doric columns above the originals to serve as a support for the central dome. The technique used of overlapping the classical columns was a clumsy and archaic solution not normally seen in the Renaissance era.
The side walls consist of pillars which act as buttresses to support the weight. You will see that the gap between the pillars is not equal and also that both pillars and columns have different measurements with the columns in front of the altar much thicker than the ones at the rear of the church.
If you enter the Temple by the main door, you will see that the decoration on the columns, particularly the scrolls, are perfectly placed, but if you enter through the door from the square, under the choir loft, the decoration of scrolls is out of alignment.
Attached to the column on the right in front of the altar is a pulpit made of Jasper. This is a local marble from Peña Rubia. You will also see an inscription which translated reads ‘This stone is carved in memory of Don Manuel Ramírez, in the year 1756’ On the opposite column there are holes which lead us to believe that there would have been two separate pulpits but now there is only one.
In the past there was a series of paintings between the Doric columns. These were the work of Manuel Muñoz Barberán who moved to Cehegín in the 1940´s and painted them on the walls. His paintings told stories from the Old Testament such as as the beheading of John the Baptist and the Sacrifice of Isaac. However during the last renovations the artist agreed that most be covered over and now there are only three remaining. One of which is the Baptism of Christ which can be seen in the Baptistery.
The original altarpiece of the High Altar consisted of, on the left side, the Annunciation of Mary and on the right side, Calvary. In the centre a virgin was surrounded by clouds and angels, with above her the Holy Spirit, on her left God the Father, and on her right Jesus Christ the son.
In 1936 a military uprising led to the Civil War during which time the church was looted and burned. This is remembered as one of the worst events that have taken place in the village. The neighbours rushed to put out the fire because they thought if the Church was lost they would be as well. This was because they felt that Cehegín without the silhouette of the Church would lose its importance in the Christian world.
The fire severely damaged the structure of the church, and many great works of art were lost amongst which was the original altarpiece from the main altar. The residents were unhappy with a church without an altarpiece and decided to install one from the Church of Santo Cristo. You will notice that the dimensions leave space which normally would have been decorated as the rest of the décor of this altarpiece belongs to a baroque style called Churrigueresca which is noted for an excess of ornamentation.
Framed Corinthian columns, the spiral shapes help to give movement to the whole altarpiece. In the centre you will see the shrine that houses the image of Santa María Magdalena. Either side of this are two paintings one of the Immaculate Conception and the other of St. James on horseback. On the lower part you can see the figure of the Good Shepherd which is specifically the door of a tabernacle. This further confirms that the altarpiece did not originally belong to this church because the altar and tabernacle should be on the same level.
On both sides of the Altar are several more altarpieces of Baroque and Neoclassical style which host San Antonio Abad (Patron Saint of the animals), our Virgen del Carmen and the Virgen del Socorro.
San Juan, a sculpture by Sánchez Araciel in a Baroque style depicts the Evangelist raising his right hand and pointing to Christ, while his left hand holds a palm leaf, which is the symbol of the martyrdom of Christ.
La Verónica is a work by Francisco Liza is in the Neo Baroque style.
Another image, The Fallen Christ is by the artist Juan José Quirós from Cartagena.
All three sculptures belong to the brotherhood or Cofradías of San Juan Evangelista (white).
The Virgin de las Angustias is in the style of Francisco Salzillo. For almost two centuries this was attributed to his disciple Roque López but during restoration in the workshop of Verónicas in Murcia a letter was discovered inside the image. This was evidence that the work was carried out by Marcos Laborda, another disciple of Salzillo. The image represents an elderly Mary holding her dead son in her arms. She looks with sadness to the sky asking for clemency. Her expression of pain is accentuated by the tears that cover her face. The dead Christ is supported on the legs of his mother in a scene on the hill at Calvary. At the feet of Jesus are the symbols of the passion, the nails and the crown of thorns. Behind the Virgin is the Cross draped with a white cloth symbolising purity. The triangular composition is broken by the diagonal of Christ.
San Pedro a sculpture belonging to the Madrid school, was commissioned by Doña Pura Ródenas widow of José Sánchez de Amoraga. This work shows the Saint on his knees looking up at the sky with the keys to heaven in his hands. Below you will see a cockerel representing the Scriptures which say “before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” These two sculptures belong to the brotherhood of the precious blood (blood red).
Jesus Nazareno is a sculpture belonging to the brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazareno (Purple). On the morning of Good Friday the image is attached to a cross representing Christ at Calvary.
Cristo de la Paz is an image attributed to the workshops of Olot. It shows the crucified Christ just at the moment when his soul is delivered into the hands of his father, and he bows his head to God’s will. Known locally by the people of Cehegín as Cristo de la Plaza it is the owned by the brotherhood of Santísimo Cristo de la Paz (browns).
La Capilla del Sagrado Corazón
On the right side of the altar is the Chapel of the Sacred Heart which houses the Tabernacle. The structure and decoration of the chapel, however, gives the impression that, it is in itself, a tabernacle within the Church. The richly painted ceiling, and the smooth stucco framed walls decorated with gold, creates a space that has nothing in common with the simplicity of the Church. The colours blue and white are used throughout, and the lower area on the walls is simulated marble. The Tabernacle is a work of great craftsmanship and is covered with symbols representing Christ. The letters JHS together with ears of corn that represent the bread of life and an M for Mary. In the centre you can see an angel holding a chalice.
The Eucharist is celebrated in the Chapel every day. Also each year on the night of Holy Thursday during Easter Week the Blessed Sacrament is displayed and watched over by a number of the faithful who remain awake the whole night.
ERMITA DE SAN GINÉS
It is a small hermitage from the 16th century, located in the orchard, which has always been very dear to the people of Cehegín. It is privately owned. Traditionally, a pilgrimage used to take place there on the day of the Saint, with the custom of young brides giving each other a good knock on the head under the Saint in order to find a groom.
Alonso de Góngora Faxardo, in 1818, said of it
“The chapel of Señor San Ginés, located in this orchard, in the district known as Fuente de Arjona, was founded by Mayor Fernández and Ginés González Guirado, as stated in the will granted by the said Mayor Fernández on 1 May 1569 before Rodrigo Carreño, notary public of this town. His feast day is celebrated on the 25th of August every year, with a procession leaving this parish church at dawn on the same day, and a sung mass is said at his altar in the chapel. It is endowed with goods for its subsistence. Its current patron this year is the presbyter Don Francisco Ramón Fernández Guirado Pérez-Fajardo. Neighbour of it and lieutenant of priest of it at present.”
Source: Francisco Jesús Hidalgo García
ERMITA DE SANTA BÁRBARA
This is a very small hermitage located in the spot to which it gives its name. It was built in the last quarter of the 16th century and repaired by the master builder and stonemason Juan Mirón in 1628. It is believed that it was his father, also called by the same name and surname, who built it around 1580. In the early 17th century, Juan Mirón, the Elder, was involved in the construction of the church of Santa María Magdalena. It has always been a privately owned rural hermitage.
ERMITA-SANTUARIO DE LA VIRGEN DE LA PEÑA
It is the oldest hermitage preserved in Cehegín, having its origins in the 13th century, next to the rocky castle that accompanied it. It is highly revered because it houses the image of Nuestra Señora de la Peña, who has been the patron saint of Cehegín since medieval times, sharing patronage with Saint Zenon and the Virgen de las Maravillas in the 18th century. She is the patron saint of the district of Canara.
ERMITA DEL CAMPILLO DE LOS GIMÉNEZ
The hermitage of Campillo de los Giménez was built in the 18th century by the inhabitants of the farmhouse. The oldest document in which it is mentioned dates from 1792, although we know that it is somewhat older.
Source: Francisco Jesús Hidalgo García
ERMITAS DE ESCOBAR Y BURETE
The following document by Don Alonso de Góngora y Faxardo tells us about the old Escobar hermitage, now disappeared, which was built in the 18th century, and also that of Burete, which is privately owned:
“The hermitages of Escobar and Burete, in this orchard, the former with the invocation of Nuestra Señora de la Nieba and the latter with that of the patronage of Señor San José. These were made by the faithful of their respective parties. They have the same as the two above, their chaplain and the same chaplain celebrates a mass in each hermitage every day of obligation for the parishioners of their parishes to hear. The inhabitants of the farmhouses contribute with their alms. They come to the aid of all that is necessary for them, as well as to the payment or alms of the chaplain, who today is the presbyter Don Francisco Hidalgo and before that was this friar”.
Today there is a hermitage located in the same cortijada del Escobar, which was built in the 50s of the 20th century.
Source: Francisco Jesús Hidalgo García
ERMITA DE SAN SEBASTIÁN
The chapel of San Sebastián was built in the 15th century. Sebastián was born in France but educated in Milan. He was a soldier in the army of Emperor Diocletian who was unaware that Sebastián was a Christian and had appointed him Chief of the Imperial Praetorian. He was denounced to the emperor for helping the Christians and was forced to choose between being a soldier and following Jesus Christ. When he chose Christianity he was condemned to a painful death and so was tied to a post and wounded by archers who then left him to die. The cult of San Sebastián is an ancient one and he is prayed to for help against plagues, bad weather and the enemies of religion. This suggests that maybe the town constructed the Chapel in his name to ask for his help in the fight against the Muslims. A major tradition in Cehegín is to celebrate the feast of San Sebastián with a huge bonfire. This is done in the hope that strong winds that normally sweep the town in the months of February and March will not arrive. This chapel is situated in what was a strategic location, being a crossroads between the town itself, the river, the Canara district and the neighbouring town of Calasparra.
It is believed that originally the chapel had a beautiful Mudejar coffered ceiling which was destroyed by the French army during the war of independence between 1808 and 1812, when the army was retreating from the city of Granada and making its way to Valencia. During that time it passed through Cehegín looting the town and destroying everything that was in the way. Napoleon’s army looted Cehegín, Águilas, Alhama, Caravaca, Jumilla, Lorca, Mula, and all towns through the Yecla Ricote Valley.
From the various panoramic viewpoints of Cehegín the dilapidated state of this church has a mysterious and romantic character.
The final victory over the French was achieved by the army of Andalucía helped by 600 soldiers of the Provincial Regiment of Murcia, who were part of the Levant army, as well as men from the Lorca Provincial Regiment.
Following the end of the war of Spanish Independence the King, Ferdinand VII returned to claim the throne. When he died his wife Maria Cristina became regent until the coming of age of their daughter Isabel. In 1840 Maria Cristina left Spain and her daughter in the hands of the regent Espartero. He declared that all taxes should go to the crown and all the estates of religious orders and churches would be nationally owned. Following this in 1847 the order of Santiago left Cehegín.
At this time there were large plantations of grass and hemp in the area and this promoted a period of splendour in the shoe making industry. Mining also grew and became important for Cehegín and communications improved with the construction of bridges over the rivers Argos and Quipar. At the end of the 19th century the early trials of electric light began.
IGLESIA DE VALENTÍN
It was built in the mid 50’s of the 20th century and inaugurated in 1957 thanks to the efforts and perseverance of the then parish priest José Escribano, who moved heaven and earth to raise funds for the religious building, which was so necessary due to the poor state of the old church. In the end, with the involvement of all the neighbours, the project was completed.
It is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It was restored around 2004. Its clock tower, which is more than 30 metres high, stands out.
Source: Francisco Jesús Hidalgo García
PUERTA DE CARAVACA
Puerta de Caravaca was the gateway guarding the walled town of Cehegín in the middle Ages. Dating from the 12th century it is built in the Almohade style with lime mortar and gravel.
The records of the12th and 15th centuries confirm that there was a wall here in the Muslim era.
The tower was over 11 meters high and had a minimum width of 1.60 meters, and was built above the gateway. Originally it was named after Pedro de Cordoba but it later became known as the Tower of Gonzalo Gil. Near the top of the Tower there was a niche where the image of a Saint was placed, perhaps San Zenón, to safeguard the city.
Both the niche and the Arch of access were constructed in the same style. The type of arch used is semicircular, but the shape is very irregular.
This gateway was the entrance to the main part of town and the old mosque which stood on the site now occupied by the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena.
CASA DEL CONDE DE CAMPILLOS
Next to the Town Hall is the Palace of the Count of Campillos, a Neoclassical building dating from the early 19th century. Its smooth façade is divided into 3 levels framed on the ground level with a plinth and corner blocks. The central level features balconies with Majorcan windows from the 19th century. On the upper level the windows are oval. When compared with the facade of the Town Hall you can clearly see the decorative and artistic differences between the 18th and 19th centuries.
There is a popular legend told locally, that at dawn every day the servants of the Count made migas, a traditional dish, not to eat themselves or to give to the poor, but to feed to the dogs to give them strength for the hunt.
HOSPITAL DE LA REAL PIEDAD
The Hospital de la Real Piedad originally from the 18th century was transformed during the 19th & 20th centuries. Today the building stands on a plinth with a red brick surface. The upper floors have balconies framed by plain and smooth plasterwork. Between them you will see rectangles of green painted stucco. The central area features 2 busts belonging to the Dukes of Ahumada, the founders of the hospital. The main door is framed by square modillions that are cut into the lintel and each side. On the corner to the left, you will see a shield of the Nobel family of Chico de Guzmán, the Hospital’s founder.
Pedro Maria Chico de Guzmán y Chico de Guzmán, Count de la Real Piedad from Cehegín, when he died in 1884, declared in his will that the house where he lived in Mesoncico Square should be a Hospital for the poor, to be supported by various other properties, monies and land. His nephews Don Frederick and Don Miguel Chico de Guzmán disputed the will and wanted to impose certain rights over the property. The case was discussed in the Court of la Latina in Madrid. The verdict, under a Ministerial order dated June the 20th 1890, was that it should be “Beneficio-particular sin animo de lucro” which meant that it would be a non-profit organisation and would benefit the poor and needy.
It was decided that the hospital would be run by the Daughters of Charity, and so, on March the 12th 1890, four sisters from the Daughters of Charity arrived in Cehegín.
For over 100 years the Hospital de la Real Piedad has done great educational, humanitarian and religious work. On December the 4th 1991 at the Romea Theatre in Murcia the Hospital was presented with the Golden Laurel award.
Located in Calle López Chicheri this magnificent house is today the official Town Hall of Cehegín.
The 18th century Baroque building is divided into two floors and an attic with the façade divided into 7 vertical sections. At ground level there are three entrances. The main door is framed by pillars and a lintel, on which you will see a head with long braids reminiscent of mythology. The side entrance arches are less ornate and are lower than the central one but all three sets of wooden doors are decorated with metal studs in the shape of flowers.
The entire lower section is classic Italian Baroque constructed with a pink marble called Jasper which is found in this area. On the first floor there are 7 balconies decorated with plaster in the pure French Baroque style with mouldings based on swirls, curves and spirals. However the central balcony is less ornate and framed by plain straight pillars and a lintel. On either side of the main balcony you will see the shields of the noble families of Salazar and Massa.
As you enter the Town Hall the floor you are standing on was produced by the Escuela Taller. It in the same style as floors in the rooms of the Reales Alcázares de Seville and the Jeneralife de la Alhambra, where the marble has been used to produce this three dimensional effect. It gives the feeling that the floor is in motion. However, undoubtedly, the most prominent feature is the Rococo style Imperial staircase which divides the entrance area in half.
If you look up to the roof of the staircase you will see a star-shaped vault, made of stucco, which seems to be suspended in midair because there are no visible pillars or columns supporting it. The whole area is decorated with ribbons, garlands, flowers and golden vases. Although it is painted in colours very similar to those used in the period they would have originally been in more pastel shades. The windows are also highlighted in similar style to the vaulted ceiling. Perched over the central window there is an imperial eagle symbolising the power of the Salazar and Massa families.
The Cehegín Shield Tapestry
On the right hand side there is a tapestry showing the seal of the town. It is oval in shape with an outside fluted edge in gold. This is a reference to the title of ‘villa oficial’ given to the town by the Kingdom of Castilla in the reign of Philip II, who, along with his father Charles the 1st of Spain and the 5th of Germany were known as the Great Austrians, because of the great economic strength and international prestige that marked Spain during the 16th century.
In the Centre of the shield is Tower Chacón, which is a tribute to the ancient castle fortress of the town. On either side is a cypress tree, whose image means welcome, which is covered by snow. There is a popular local saying in Cehegín ‘a year with snow… means a good year.’
The cypresses are topped by Santiago crosses, conveying the prestige that the order held in the town’s history until the 18th century. At the forefront are bushes referring to the importance of land and agriculture to the town.
This is a small room decorated with armchairs and mirrors that were purchased specifically for this house. The mirrors were made by a master cabinetmaker and their reflections make the space feel much larger. Running around the room is an original frieze from the era. The floor has been made to resemble a carpet containing all different geometric shapes.
You will also see a wonderful mosaic representing Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. This is a work created by Francisco Peñalver, an archaeologist who is also the Manager of the Archaeological Museum here in Cehegín. A reference perhaps, to the fact that in the cellars of the majority of the larger homes of the area, huge vats can be found where wine used to be stored.
In the anteroom next door to the Salón de Plenos is a second mosaic of the head of Bacchus. This has been made in mosaic tiles using the technique ‘Opus Vermiculatum’. In this particular work there are around 24.000 pieces of marble.
Salón de Plenos
This is perhaps the most important place in the house as it acts as the council assembly room. It was restored at the end of the 1970´s and many political functions are held here. It has been totally transformed using techniques and colours that would not have been used originally. The colour yellow and the technique called Venetian stucco have been utilised throughout the salón, except in the areas framing the doors and windows which are decorated in shades of blue.
In the centre of the ceiling we find a chandelier shaped like a large spider that was made in the workshops of Riopar. If we look at the windows, both inside and outside are decorated, with the outside in a more sober style and the interior richer and more sumptuous with many curves and whimsical forms. It is important to reflect on the huge amount of carpentry that was done for this House. In the Municipal Archive, documents reveal that 6.000 pine trees of large dimensions were used for the beams, doors, windows etc.
On the central balcony fly the Spanish flag, the flag of the region of Murcia and the flag of the town. Cehegín is part of the region of Murcia and this is represented on the flag by the colour maroon, while the white refers to the order of Santiago because his habit was white with a red cross and the green alludes to the rich and fertile lands of the municipality.
As a matter of interest this house was purchased to be used as the Town Hall in the late 1970´s for one million pesetas. This was purely a symbolic value considering the dimensions and artistic wealth of this property.
CASA DEL CONCEJO
In one of the most symbolic places stands the Council House, a former home to the council. It is noted for its façade where the entrance is set back into a recess resulting in ‘chiaroscuro’ a technique combining light and shade. The street edge has a double arch which rests on three columns of marble. The outside two, attached to the walls, are in the Italian Mannerist style that first arrived in Spain during the 17th century. Above this are two windows framed by Tuscan pillars and triangular pediments. Between the two you will see a shield, and under this, a plaque which translated reads ‘the work of these houses and the jail were finished while Don Alonso Carreño Quiros, nobleman and Gonzalo Ada, resident, were Mayors in the year 1676’.
This building originally housed the prison but later it assumed the role of the Council Chambers. In 1976 its purpose changed again when the Archaeological Museum was formed by the combination of the Council House, the Fajardo Palace and the Historic Archive building on Calle Mayor.
Inside the museum there are Roman and Byzantine mosaics as well as a large set of rooms dedicated to prehistory, Iberian Art, Roman and Visigoth remains, as well as different exhibitions which include both Muslim & Christian artefacts.
CASA DE DOÑA BLANCA
Having climbed Cuesta del Parador you will now see a large tower belonging to the House of the Marquesa Villar de Felices, and known locally as the House of Doña Blanca.
The Tower is situated behind huge access doors that lead to the garden area of the house. Above the entrance you will see a shield and to the left some tiles with the image of ‘Virgen de Las Maravillas’. This custom became very fashionable in the late 18th century in parts of Andalucía and other Spanish Marian places where on landmarks, and in stately homes, images of devotion were exhibited.
The Tower has a square structure combining various styles. It has three sections, the first smooth with almost no decoration and the second has a large window framed with plaster decoration which includes Ionic columns. On the third floor the sides have 3 small arched windows. The Tower also has large eaves that play a double role, on the one hand decorative, and on the other functional, as they protect the Tower from the rain. Continue past the wall of the residence on the right and you will find yourself in front of the main façade.
The floor of this manor house dates from the 16th century. It was later remodeled in the 17th and 18th centuries. Curiously, due to the unevenness of the ground, the house has 3 floors on one side and 5 on the other. The façade is an example of pure Murcian Baroque style of the 18th century. It is smooth, but framed by, and divided into sections, by rows of red bricks.
The building is covered in limestone and divided into three levels. The main entrance on the first floor is framed by pillars decorated with diamond and square shapes. The middle floor has a balcony and displays shields that belong to the families Carreño and Ruiz López. On the top floor the curved pediment has been constructed in two parts so that the continuity of the windows is not interrupted. Above you will see a second tower which serves to illuminate the interior staircase.
CASA DE DON OCTAVIO
The House of Don Octavio which today is owned by Josefina Ruiz of Assin Lamarca.
It is a Baroque building with 2 floors and attic.
The main door is reached by a semicircular staircase and is framed by columns. These were enclosed due to the state of preservation and also to prevent further deterioration. Above the door the leaf decoration has been damaged by the introduction of the great central balcony. At the top you will see a large shield, the translation of which is, ‘BUILT IN 1708, TRANSFORMED IN 1832’. Inside not a lot has altered and you will find all the trappings of the past.
CASA DE LA TERCIA
As you walk along Calle de la Tercia, today you can contemplate, majestically, the building known as Casa de la Tercia, which gives its name to this street. Cehegín, as most readers will know, was part of the Encomienda de Caravaca, which belonged to the Order of Santiago. We know, mainly through the Visitations, that the Order’s granary or alhorí was located in the castle and also that, perhaps due to the lack of space and the castle’s lack of functionality, in the 17th century a huge building was built to administer and store the revenues produced by the Order’s goods in Cehegín. This is apparently the time when the Casa de la Tercia was built. In the Visitation of the Order of Santiago in 1625, the Casa Tercia and its cellar and granaries are already mentioned.
The building is Baroque and is structured on two floors and an attic, and its original internal organisation was obviously marked by the large central courtyard, from which almost all the rooms were accessed.
The wine cellar is immense, as is logical for a building whose function was to house enormous quantities of wine. Today there is a “wine school” in the cellar where various cultural, gastronomic and oenological activities are held.
CASA DE LAS BOTICARIAS
This building was constructed between the 17th & 18th centuries in two distinct parts. The main façade is on Alonso Góngora Street, and the entrance is framed with two ionic columns that came from the Temple of Jupiter in the ancient city of Begastri. The other façade, facing Calle Mayor, has two floors and an attic; the first level is smooth with decorative incisions almost like calligraphy. On the middle floor you will see the shield belonging to the noble family Alvarez featuring the Fleur de Lys. The roof features wide eaves with white plaster brackets.
An unusual feature inside is a wooden cloister. However it is believed that originally the building was to have accommodated an order of monks de la Concepción hence the cloister. This house previously belonged to the sisters Ortega Lorencio, who were known as the chemists, but has recently been acquired by The Town Hall for restoration and conversion for cultural and tourist uses.
CASA DE LAS COLUMNAS
This house served as a former assembly room for the nobility and was constructed in the 18th century in pure Baroque style.
The building comprises of two floors and has a smooth façade.
The entrance door is flanked by two columns with a large window over the top. The shield on the house is that of the noble Sánchez de Amoraga family.
The street was named after the columns that are incorporated into the construction of the property.
CASA DE LOS CONDES DE ARRIBA
The home of the Duke of Ahumada stands in Calle Mayor. The modernist style, the great size and the fact that besides the main door, there is a service entrance, makes this one of the most distinguished houses in the town.
The outside is divided into 7 parts with 2 floors and an attic. The main balcony is framed by two shields belonging to the Chico de Guzmán family. The windows are decorated on the top with modern motifs of vegetation, flowers and garlands.
The interior is illuminated by a turret. Luxuriously decorated its rooms retain armchairs, furniture, lamps and other artefacts from the 18th century as well as a large number of carriages and regional costumes. The interior of this home is in actual fact like a museum of the local human culture.
CASINO DE CEHEGÍN
Fully restored today El Casino or the Social Club has always been a meeting place for great personalities and businessmen and the venue for cultural events in the past.
The façade consists of two levels. The bottom half is decorated with stone blocks and there are two pillars decorated in a Tuscan whimsical style. The pillars serve a double purpose, on the one hand they are decorative and on the other hand, less of the street is taken up than if columns had been used. At the top the main balcony is decorated with Doric pillars and there are small eaves above which protect it from rain. On either side of the balcony there are shields belonging to the noble families of Carreño and Melgarejo.
In the 19th & 20th centuries it became a cultural centre for the Northwest. The building has hosted many parties and balls attended by large numbers of guests. This tradition continues with a Masked Ball on the Tuesday of Carnival.
CASONA DE DON AMANCIO MARÍN Y RUIZ DE ASSÍN
Now forming part of, and next to the hospital on Calle Mayor you will find the house of Amancio Marín Ruiz of Assin. Originally from Cuenca, Don Amancio Marín left the house to his heirs in their lifetimes and then it was bequeathed to the brotherhood of the Hospital.
Its façade and decoration belong to the 19th century. It has three floors. The first floor includes the main doorway which is framed by a lintel, pillars and plinth of Jasper. Across the second floor run several balconies that are framed by small cornices of a terracotta colour. This area also features the shield of the noble family. Inside there is a sweeping oval-shaped staircase which is painted to simulate marble.
ESCULTURA DEL ALPARGATERO
The author of this bronze monument from 1987 is the Valencian sculptor Rafael Pi Belda. Located in the Plaza del Alpargatero, it was created as a tribute to Cehegín’s industrial past and to the local people who had to emigrate to Catalonia as a result of the disappearance of the espadrille industry, which was their means of subsistence. So important was this means of production that it was able to supply all the footwear for the French army in the First World War. In Cehegín there has been much talk, and much treatment, of this subject in the first half of the 20th century, and everyone knows that until the 1960s it was one of the economic motors of the town. However, it is not exclusive to this century in terms of an important production model.
Cehegín has always been a major producer of espadrilles, at least since the 18th century. In the 19th century, espadrille making was one of the economic motors, and possibly even more of the population than in 1950, or at least a similar rate, was dedicated to this activity, which is saying something.
A document preserved in the Municipal Archives of Cehegín, dated around 1812, says of the supply of espadrilles from Cehegín to the national army during the War of Independence:
In Cehegín there is an indelible figure of memory and that is the group of people in the post-war period and later years sitting at their bench and sewing espadrilles. It is the figure of the espadrille-maker. This is perhaps one of the typical images of Cehegín in a good part of the 20th century, but since time immemorial, at least in documentary form since the 16th century, we find it in documents. Moreover, as if intertwined with the trade, the production of hemp was always important, and served not only to supply the espadrille makers themselves but also a whole series of trades that used it as a raw material, for example to make rope and in countless other cases in which it was essential. Until not so long ago, hemp was almost as important as plastic material is today. And this village was an important producer. The espadrille makers were in charge of supplying the village with espadrilles with their production. If it was not enough, they brought them from neighbouring villages. This was perfectly regulated in the council ordinances.
PALACIO DE CASTELLANOS
Parallel to Calle Mayor is Calle Esparteros where you will find the home of Álvarez Castellanos which today houses the Justice of the Peace and serves as the Court House.
This building was constructed in the 18th century following the Baroque style. The façade is divided into two floors with an attic above. The central window is framed by pillars topped with a curved pediment.
Don Alfonso Álvarez Castellanos lived in this manor house in the 19th century and was known locally as ‘Lord of Cehegín’. He was a great friend of Canovas del Castillo who was known as the architect of the Spanish restoration. There is a story told, that one day Don Alfonso left the town of Baños de Mula and encountered a great storm. It made it impossible for his coach to cross over the river Quipar and return him home. After hearing about the problem, his friend Canovas, employed a Belgian company to undertake the building of an iron bridge over the river and this was inaugurated in 1883.
In the past this building has also been home to the offices of the Guardia Civil.
PALACIO DE LOS FAJARDO
The Fajardo Palace which is located in the Plaza del Castillo was, until the end of the 1970´s, the Town Hall. An unusual fact in the history of the building is that in the 1980’s it was featured in an advertisement for a prestigious brand of sausages called “El Pozo”. Today it forms part of the archaeological museum.
The building style belongs to the 18th century when the Bourbons arrived here after the war of Spanish succession. This period introduced into the peninsula Baroque styles as well as French Rococo. This latter style is very whimsical and incorporates shades of blue, representing the colour of the House of Borbón, as well as the extensive use of stucco work.
The structure of the building is divided into three floors. The upper floors each have a row of four balconies. The entrance is framed by marble with a Baroque façade. The wall is highlighted by brick patterns and geometric shapes. On the ground floor were the servants’ quarters, while the rooms for the nobility were on the upper floors.
Inside, near the top of the imperial style staircase of the house is a ‘Traspantojo’ or optical illusion; that simulates an open doorway.
PLAZA DE TOROS DE CEHEGÍN
In the neighbourhood of San Juan Bautista is the Plaza de Toros or Bull Ring. Towards the end of the 19th century in 1890, construction began under the administration of the Mayor of Cuenca, José Navarro.
The square was inaugurated with a bull run to benefit the refuge of San Jose on September 14th 1901. The bullring is unusual because it is built in a pit on the top of the hill where it is located and this allows public access directly to the seats from street level.
Throughout the history of the arena great matadors have passed through its doors, such as El Gallo, Paquirri, El Cordobés, and El Juli… In the 1950s they staged bullfighting festivities to benefit the refuge of the Hospital of la Real Piedad with other great bullfighters like Villalta, Antonio Sánchez and so on.
It should be noted that the Bullfighter who has contended the most fights in this square is José Fernández Liria better known as Pepin Liria. Born in Cehegín on May the 10th 1970, he debuted here at the age of 13 when he fought his first calf. On September the 14th 1988 in the murcian district of ‘Los Barberos’, and at the age of 17, he fought for the first time dressed in full costume. On April the 8th 1990 in this bullring, following his impressive fights, he was presented firstly with an ear, then two ears and finally the highest award of both ears and the tail.
His first manager was Luis Sánchez Guerrrita. On September the 11th 1993 he gained ‘la alternativa’ when during the bullfighting festival in Murcia , José Ortega Cano and Finito de Córdoba ‘recognised’ him as one of the elite. His career highlights, include the festival of San Isidro in Madrid, fights in Pamplona, Sevilla and those during the Fallas of Valencia. In 2008 on the 9th of September he performed in Cehegín for last time in front of a cheering crowd of friends and neighbours. He finally retired from Bullfighting with his last fight on October the 12th in the Plaza de la Condomina in Murcia.
In 2008 the Department of Tourism placed fourteen boards at the Bullring explaining the history of the arena. They also presented a model of what they would like to build there, which included a bullfighting museum, a restaurant and a social club for amateurs.
PLAZA DEL MESONCICO
This square has a prominent place in the history of Cehegín. A crossroads, that divides the neighbourhood of ‘Virgen de Las Maravillas’ and the traditional area of the Puntarrón and El Cubo.
This square is the place where the New Year celebrations are held, where in the past young men have left to join the army, and is also one of the most important areas in Cehegín Holy week celebrations.
In the square there are two outstanding buildings, the The Hospital de la Real Piedad and The House of Don Octavio
PUERTA DE LA VILLA
This was the main gateway through the walls to the castle. It has been known as ‘Puerta de la Villa’ or ‘Puerta de Canara ‘since the Middle Ages.
The access is by a semicircular arch which was remodelled in 1495.
The house in the upper part is said to have been the first home of the Council.
The configuration of the Plaza Mayor, practically until the castle was demolished in 1957, ended in 1725 with the construction of the parapet and columns. A new space had already been required since the 16th century, as the square we know today as Vieja had become too small. In the 17th century, the necessary impetus was given with the construction of the new Council building, completed in 1676, the construction in the 17th century and later extension, in the 18th century, of the Palace of the Fajardo family and, as we have said, in 1725, the construction of the parapet with the columns that we know today in the viewpoint.
The work on the Iglesia Mayor is not included here as it was separated from the square by the castle and only one street connected the Plaza Mayor with the church square. This was a building whose mission was to embellish the square, as well as to provide a space where the wealthy families of the town could go up and look out from the balconies to see the different festivities that took place in the Plaza Mayor, such as bullfighting, dances, etc.
Although the columns date from the 18th century, the building above them today is of modern construction. Between the columns of the belvedere, at least from the 19th century, the butcher’s shops were installed, which were still known there during a good part of the 20th century.
In the space between the viewpoint, the castle and the rest of the square, bullfighting stages were set up for bullfights until the current bullring was built on the Cabezo del Seco. In the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square) the weekly market was held.
TORRE DEL POZO
This fortress, known to the people of Cehegín as the tower of the water thief, was built during the 11th and 12th centuries.
We can trace its name back through the continuous records that were kept by the order of Santiago.
This building was built to take advantage of the water that flowed naturally in this area. The spring water was collected by a kind of large saucepan with holes in the bottom connected to a long necked funnel sealed at the end. By dipping the saucepan, water fills the container but will not empty until you release the seal on the funnel. This was a good system to use as very little water was lost back into the river, hence the name ‘water thief’.
The purpose of this tower was twofold. Firstly, from medieval times it had provided water to the town along channels and secondly it was defensive.
This building is listed as having cultural interest and was inaugurated by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Region of Murcia, Pedro Alberto Cruz and the Mayor of Cehegín, José Soria. This tower provides a vantage point from which there there is a wonderful view of the Argos river valley.
DÁNDOLE A LA RUEDA
In February 2017, the sculpture made by the artist Juan García Jiménez, called “Dándole a la rueda”, was inaugurated at the roundabout at the west exit of the town. The sculptor said about it: “This sculpture is unrepeatable; there is no other like it anywhere in the world”, adding that “I put the face of the child looking towards the Church of La Magdalena, the place where all of us who were born up there have been baptised”.
The work depicts a child spinning, and the artist confesses that he also got to spin the wheel, “although not out of necessity”. The wheel, made up of hundreds of pieces of steel, sits on a large mosaic representing the sun and life.
Essentially, it is a reminder of those post-war children who worked hard at spinning hemp on the wheels for the espadrille industry and other purposes.
BEGASTRI, THE LOST CITY
A historical and archaeological sign of the municipality of Cehegín, founded by the Iberians and later occupied by the Romans. With the Visigothic invasions, at a time of transition from the Ancient Age to the Middle Ages, the city reached its maximum splendour, becoming an episcopal see, as is shown by the signatures of the bishops of this see, in the minutes of the Councils of Toledo.
Later, during the conquest of the Visigothic kingdom by the Muslims in the 8th century, the regions had to make concessions and it was not until the middle of the 10th century that the African Berber tribe of the Zinhagíes, encouraged by Almanzor, settled in the territory with the gradual abandonment of the city of Begasti and the subsequent foundation of Cehegín.
With its abandonment, the city, in ruins, was forgotten until it almost disappeared, as the acropolis was converted over the centuries into farmland.
As early as the 17th century, the local nobleman Martín de Ambel y Bernard wrote that “there is a general tradition in this town that in the Cabezo de la Muela and its surroundings, there is much wealth buried among its ruins” (…) “that in the year 1626, while extracting (at the foot of the said Cabezo) stone to build a house” (…) “they discovered the floor plan of a house” (…) “they discovered the floor plan of a house in the ruins of the said Cabezo de la Muela” (…) “they discovered the floor plan of a house in the ruins” (…). ) “they discovered the ground plan of a building, which in its layout and form seemed to be a sumptuous factory” (…) “they found an admirable brown marble stone, beautifully carved and as large as the largest altar in use today” (…) “This stone is a little more than four fingers wide, it is written with Greek letters and numbers in square and its form is as follows, which letters say : Hodo Acromino bishop of the church of Bigastro, consecrated this church of San Vicente in the third year of his pontificate. ” (De Ambel and Bernard)
Despite this discovery and the fact that the slab would disappear, researchers continued their search for the lost city of Begastri without success. It was in 1878 that an altar with the following inscription was found:
IOVI OPTIMO / MAXIMO RP/ BEGASTRESI/ VM RESTITVIT: To Jupiter optimum maximum restored this simulacrum and temple the republic of the Begastrenses (Fernández Guerra, 1879).
The Roman municipality of Begastri and the location of the ancient city were finally confirmed, as stated by Aureliano Fernández-Guerra y Orbe in his publication in the Boletín de la Sociedad Geográfica de Madrid, “Deitania y su cátedra episcopal de Begastri” (Bulletin of the Geographical Society of Madrid, “Deitania y su cátedra episcopal de Begastri”).
The archaeological site of Begastri can be visited every weekend and by reservation for groups during the week.