Benatae, Sierra de Segura
Benatae is a village located in the Sierra de Segura, under the white Peñalta, between fields full of olive trees. The municipality limits with Siles, Torres de Albanchez, Orcera and La Puerta de Segura.
We can emphasize places like the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción and many springs WE CAN FIND IN Benatae. Part of its township belongs to the Cazorla Segura and Las Villas Natural Park, the biggest open space in Spain: orographic labyrinth of valleys, limestone quarries, clefts, mountains and high plateaus with a great hydrologic importance (because of the huge quantity of rivers and streams that flow from it); botanical (European Black Pine, Aleppo Pine and many endemic species); the wealth of the fauna, hunting and the landscape. From it we can observe that it is one of the most visited open spaces in the country.
The history of Benatae and its inhabitants (called naberos) in the last 5 centuries has been immersed in the general lines that marked the evolution of Segura de la Sierra, to which it has been tied closely. A history, on the other hand, that also tied Benatae to the kingdom of Murcia, to the Orden de Santiago, the Encomienda Mayor de Castilla, the Real Chancillería de Granada, or even to the Bishopric of Cartagena. And finally a history, that had two emblematic dates in the last of the Middle Ages: firstly, in 1175, when it was conquered by Alfonso VIII; then in 1415, when the king Don Juan II de Castilla gave it the title of villa.
Apart from it, and with regard to the demographic and social aspects, the evolution of Benatae has passed along the Modern and Contemporary Period marked by the demographic stagnation, with moments of demographic recession. A stagnation that leads it to have 863 inhabitants at the beginning of XX century,. And it was these years when the demographic increase was obvious: 1.103 inhabitants in 1910, 1.277 in 1920, 1.433 in 1930, 1.491 in 1940 or 1.538 in 1950.
This last number reaches its real dimension if we bear in mind that in the middle of XIX century, Benatae had 658 inhabitants, or what amounts to the same things, in more than one century, the inhabitants of Benatae have increased in 233 %. This was a situation that started to change in the second half of XX century. We can observe the number of inhabitants: 1.497 in 1960, 825 in 1975, 767 in 1986 or 608 in 1991. If in the middle of XX century and with regard to the middle of XIX century, the increase was 233%, at the end of XX century the demographic reality was very different, that is, the 92%. The economic poverty that suffered the region during the Franco Regime just as the demographic drain that meant the emigration in all the area are in the roots of this change in perspective and demographic orientation.
Nowadays, with the revival in the search of the quality of life and the peace, Benatae is a wonderful destination for whom wish move away the stress and the noise, it is expected that in the future years it has a increase in its population due to the country holidays and the quality of life of Benatae.
With regard to the economic and productive field its unique aspect is the farming and livestock farming orientation. Since XIX century the reports emphasize the production of wheat, barley, rye, maize, hemp, wine, oil, testicles and silk; together with the cattle breeding works –although not much-, the activities related with hunting (hares, partridges,…) and other activities linked with the cut of wood constituted the reference point of its productive image. An image that is confirmed a few years later, at the end of XIX century, and when stand out, inside the area for the crop, 1.453 hectares used for the cereal, 483 plantations of olive groves, or 2.436 hectares of pasture and mountain.
There is nothing unusual about that it is the forest matter one of the distinctive and argument signs in the town during XIX century. The 3.540 hectares of woodlands in Benatae established in the Catálogo of1862 opposite the 3.632 hectares collected in the Catálogo of 1901 show perfectly clear the resistance to the privatization trend that characterized this century. This fact was not nor accidental or relevant if we bear in mind that in 1989 Benatae had 2.048 hectares with tree forest species, this number is the 49,75% of the total farming area. The remaining 50% of cultivated lands, always according to pieces of information in 1989, are going to be used to the olive crop (1.552 hectares), and in less measure to the cereal (298 hectares), to pastures (65 hectares) and fruit trees (18 hectares).
We can find productive sectors that were greater in a productive structure marked by the plots of the cultivations and because of a quantitative prominence of the little property. In 1928 the number of low landowners and tenants in Benatae were 329; in 1934 it was reduced to 288. We can find that in 1989 the number of plots of Benatae were 529, 408 of which were not exceeded the 5 hectares while only 8 had more than 50 hectares.
There was a strong division into plots of the exploitations and an unquestionable prominence of the low landowners and tenants in the most recent history of Benatae that help us to explain, the strong political and institutional influence that have had the conservative formations in the town. The victory of the monarchist candidature in 1931, the one of the Bloque de los Agrarios in the constituents of 1931 or the one of the Bloque Nacional in the ones of February in 1936 highlighted the settlement of the conservative formations in the town and the validity of political cooperation projects (especially evident in Benatae and in all the province during the political situation of 1933-1935) typical of tyrants times of the past. We can find a resistance to change and political passiveness that was sanctioned, after the end of the Civil War in 1939 in the course of all the Francoist period.
Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.
Springs. In its municipal district we can find many springs between we can mention the Atajadero, Puente Honda, Cañada del Toril, San Sebastián, del Roble, San Miguel, la Cabaña and Soto del Espino.
The gastronomy in Sierra de Segura is rich and varied due to the culinary influence of the Romans, Moslems and Christians, being many the resources of this mountain range that served as the basis for its dishes. Cultivated or wild vegetables, cattle farming, with a native breed of sheep, called segureña, recognized for the quality of its meat. The vegetables, nuts and dried fruits, vegetables, fruit trees, vidarras (clematis vitalba), campions and vinaigrettes, give taste and freshness to the dishes in which the popular wisdom has done a real art achieving one of the best cuisines throughout the country.
Benatae is proud of its olive oil, and its quality has been recognized, being the first guarantee of origin in Andalucía and the second in Spain.
The fundamental ingredients of this cuisine are the oil, flour, meat and vegetables that the varied and imaginative methods have made this cuisine on e of the most famous in Andalucía.
The most typical dishes are: ajoatao, andrajos, galianos (gazpacho), ajo pringue, gachamiga, fried breadcrumbs, lamb, and hunting meat. And we can mention some sweets such as: flores de Semana Santa, perrunillas, brandy bread rolls, walnut and butter flat cakes, suspiros (meringues), Easter pies, fried ring-shapes rolls and panetes in sweet clear soup.
To all this dishes we can add natural products with an excellent quality such as honey, prunes and quince jelly, brandy, meloja or mistela.
How to get there
You have to exit Jaén towards Mancha Real – Baeza – Úbeda and cross Baeza and the alleyway of Úbeda. In the roundabout you have to take the exit3 and continue through the Motorway A-301. Then turn the right in N-322. Alleyways of El Campillo and Villacarrillo. In the outskirts of Puente de Génave, turn the left in JV-7002. Cross La Puerta de Segura and follow the signs until you Benatae.
Distances from Benatae
Jaén 147 km
Baeza 99 km
Úbeda 90 km
Orcera 5,5 km
La Carolina 107 km
Camporredondo 39 km
Puente de Génave 17 km
La Puerta de Segura 10 km
Los Llanos de Arriba 14 km