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Cortes de la Frontera

cortes 002 (1024x768)Population: 3500
Altitude: 630 m
Distances: 40 km from Ronda
130 km from Cadiz

GEOGRAPHICAL restraints mean that the village has a long, thin layout. Parking on the main street that runs through Cortes can be tricky once you are in the centre but you can always find parking on the outskirts.

Its location between the Natural Park of the Sierra de Grazalema and Los Alcornocales makes Cortes an attractive place to be. The two Parks are very different and worth exploring. Los Alcornocales has a microclimate which is more humid and the plant life is quite unique. You can read more about the Parks in the Natural Parks section. Cortes is also divided into two: the Estación (station) and the main village which is higher and older. There is a lovely walk which connects the station and the village and on the way you have a chance to see the little-known mozarabic church Casa de Piedra built into a rock. The tiny carved church is on the side of the path in a p0retty spot which is ideal for a picnic and a photo.

The origins of Cortes go back to the 12th and 11th centuries B., C, when the Phoenicians settled here. However, Cortes did not develop as a village until the arrival of the Romans who gave it the name Cortex (defence or protection). The village like all the villages in Serranía de Ronda area was under a Moorish rule for several centuries until 1248 when it was conquered by Christians. There are Moorish remains at the Torre del Paso, a watchtower near the village, and there is a new project aiming at reconstructing life in the Moorish Cortes de la Frontera, which is still being developed and involves rebuilding the Moorish settlement using methods available to builders at the time. The present village dates back to the 17th century.

The prominent large bullring on the main street was built in 1894 and renovated in 1921 and the Town Hall (Ayuntamiento), a beautiful stone building with a neoclassical façade dates from 1784, unusually for the area built of sandstone.  There are locally important Semana Santa celebrations that take place on the square in front of the Town Hall.

A relatively new annual event is the gathering and learning about wild mushrooms for which the Alcornocales Natural Park is famous. The mushroom seminars and outings are held in November every year and you need to enrol at the town hall. Note that gathering large amounts of mushrooms in the Park is not allowed without a permit.

Fiestas

The most popular fiesta is the Feria de San Sebastían y San Roque held from the 18th to the 22nd of August. The program is usually quite full; there are processions, mini-running of the bulls called “vaquillas” (young bulls) in some of the Cadiz villages instead of the usual “toros”.

At the end of May-beginning of June there is a pilgrimage of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, a more understated, but picturesque event.

Cortes de la Frontera is well-known for good food: venison stew, rabbit “hunter´s style” wild mushrooms. Favourite restaurant is Meson Los Alcornocales on the main street in the village.

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