Benalup – Casas Viejas
Benalup Casas Viejas
Benalup-Casas Viejas is a town with 6.347 inhabitants, located on a hill called Loma de las Grullas, maybe because of its nearness to the Laguna de la Janda where there were plenty of those kinds of birds before they were drying up.
It has a privileged situation in Cádiz because it occupies the geographical centre of the middle south of it. It is also the geographical centre in the Region of Janda.
Its geographical coordinates are 36º 20’ 30″ North and 2º 7’ 30″ West, at a distance which is less than 20 Km from the three most important historical centres, which are Vejer de la Frontera, Alcalá de los Gazules and Medina Sidonia. But it is equidistant also, around 60 Km, from the three large cities in Cádiz, the capital, Jerez de la Frontera and Algeciras.
Benalup-Casas Viejas History
In January 11, 1933 occurred the unfortunate Events of Casas Viejas. The village was created in XIX century and it was accountable to until 1991 Medina Sidonia.
But the history of Benalup-Casas Viejas goes back to a long time ago. During Prehistory in Benalup-Casas Viejas took place a settlement that leaves us one of the most important historic legacies in Spain. Indeed, since the end of the Palaeolithic, including the Neolithic and Age Brasses, in this area was developed a very important culture that has left us some archaeological remains such the cave paintings (According to the Abbot Breuil these paintings were the most important in the South of Spain), the collection of anthropomorphic burials dated in the Neolithic or Age Brasses (according to most of the historians) or Tartessus megalithic caves.
The importance of these remains increases if we consider that this is a place almost virgin for the archaeological investigation. The explanation about the importance of this civilization has a double argument, on the one hand ecological and on the other hand strategic. This culture is developed round Janda Lagoon where the ecosystem provided with all the necessary resources for a honorable existence. There was a great abundance of hunting (Deers, Wild Boars, Partridges, Rabbits, all kinds of birds, etc.). Water was not the problem, but quite the opposite, and the prevailing relief in this area contributed innumerable natural shelters which were used to the defense, the housing or the religious cult. We cannot forget the strategic situation of this area, like transition between the countryside and the mountains and very near the sea, in which the villages of Western Mediterranean, especially the Phoenicians, trade and at the same time they left their culture. We have to emphasize that this ecological and strategic value have to bear in mind if you want to think about the future of Benalup-Casas Viejas.
In this area appear the History with the Romans which means the loss of prominence and importance in Benalup-Casas Viejas and its overlapping with Medina Sidonia, which has continued until recent times. Since then, we only find very precise events, until in XIX century we can find the present settlers. Janda battle takes place in 711 that occurred in our environment, for some historians this was the definitive dispute that defeated Visigoths, while for others Guadalete battle was the definitive one. Under Moslem rule, the place of Benalup-Casas Viejas is outshined by the preponderance of Medina Sidonia. In our area we have a farmhouse that has farming and defensive functions. This tower is called “Ben a lup”, which according to most of the historians it means wolf’s son.
Nowadays it is known like the morita and is located in Banalup Farmhouse. The Christian conquest carried out during XIII century, first in charge of Fernando III el Santo and then his son Alfonso X el Sabio consolidated it. For two centuries this area is a dangerous and uncontrollable frontier zone, which will be one of the reasons, together with the trade with America and the disentailment of XIX century, of the formation of large states that is an important fact to explain the birth of the village, its later development and the historic future. The first news about the settlement of the present Benalup-Casas Viejas appears in XVI century but in XIX century we can find the current population centre.
The Events of Casas Viejas took place in 1933 (XX century). This suppression, together with the Civil War, leads this village to a pessimism and decline state higher tan the rest of Spain. At the end of the forties and the beginning of the fifties it starts to show a recovery that was stopped in the sixties. But during the sixties occurred a great demographic crisis and the main cause of this crisis is due to the emigration which devastated the rural Spain in the sixties and that had dramatic natures in Benalup-Casas Viejas.
The destination of these emigrants was the members of the EC, País Vasco, Cataluña, Madrid and, above all, the Valenciana region, such as Alacuart, Chiva, Torrent… This last village is nowadays united with Benalup-Casas Viejas, due to the quantitative and qualitative importance of the population benalupense in this town.
The village suffered a great change, much more serious and deep that the one occurred with the Events or the Civil War, since at the same time the crisis of the traditional agriculture was laying the foundations of a village with different economic, social, cultural and town-planning characteristics. In fact, these agricultural transformations changed the direction of the big farms that surrounded the village, becoming in an intensive farming creating plentiful labour. We can observe the most important example of this change in the Farm of Lomas and if we join it to the ephemeral boom of the greenhouses and the building we can explain the quick growth of Benalup in the last thirty years, the predominance of the immigrant and young inhabitants, the dynamic and “busca vidas” character of them, and the good press that the builders of Benalup have in all Costa del Sol.
The second explanation for this quick growth (from the beginning of the nineties) has a political character. In fact, after great efforts and save the obstacles that were found in Medina Sidonia, Benalup-Casas Viejas segregates of it and obtains its local independence, although its inhabitants do not consider the term just and nowadays they claim it. This generates many public investments, creation of infrastructures, and execution of important public buildings… which have helped the village to be an immigration area, on the contrary to Medina or Alcala that aged gradually because of the migration.
Benalup-Casas Viejas Monuments
Nuestra Señora del Socorro Church
“La Morita” or Benalup Tower
Remains of the Arab castle Ben Alup, XII-XIII centuries, of whom we preserve the central tower.
El Tajo de las Figuras Cave Paintings, The Bronze Age, declared national monument in 1932, which has been called the “Altamira” of the schematic painting.
Benalup-Casas Viejas Gastronomy
Asparagus soup. Stew of tagarninas. Refried asparagus. Asparagus omelette. Snail with spices. Cabrillas with sauce. Cabrillas with tomato.
Routes of interest
Route of Toro – El Paraíso del Venado
Tajo de las Figuras
Los Pantanos del Celemín y el Barbate
Park los Alcornocales
La Finca del Canuto
La Antigua laguna de la Janda
How to get there
The nearer airport is located in Jerez de la Frontera to 57 Km. The nearer railway stations are Puerto Real (50 Km) and the one of Algeciras (62 Km), being the lines of Madrid-Cádiz and Algeciras-Bobadilla, the ones that have better access. With regard to the buses, we have to mention the lines of Benalup-Casas Viejas-Medina Sidonia-Cádiz and the one of Benalup-Casas Viejas-Puerto Real-Cádiz. As for the roads the approach roads are C-211 Benalup-Casas Viejas-Medina Sidonia, the local road of Benalup-Casas Viejas-Alcalá de los Gazules, the C-440 and the C-343.
Distances from Benalup-Casas Viejas
Cádiz 63 km
Algeciras 50 km
Paterna de Rivera 30 km
Jerez de la Frontera 59 km
Alcalá de los Gazules 19 km
Benalup – Casas Viejas Fountains
Pijo Fountain (Pijo Square)
La Calcetilla Fountain