Cardeña – Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro Natural Park
Cardeña can be found to the northeast of the province in Sierra Morena, on an old inn road from Cordoba to Toledo. The municipality consists of mountains with a small amount of olive groves and constitutes the principal population centre of the Parque Natural de la Sierra de Cardena y Montoro, and within it we can find stands of oaks, wild olive, pine, “maritime” and a settlement of Pyrenean oak, rare in Andalusia. To this we must add its rich landscape, with hunting and livestock.
This is an ideal area, in short, to practice nature tourism. It has the Aldea de Cerezo, a former farming town of modest stone cottages, now restored for rural housing. Also within the Cardeña locality are the villages of Azuel and Venta del Charco.
The village lies in an elongated hilly area and is integrated into the environment. Its architecture, of a style popular in the region, reflects the origins and lifestyle of its people.
Human presence in Cardeña goes back to the Age of Metals (III millennium BC), some remnants of which are preserved in Megalithic Graves (Torrubia)
Ancient discoveries have been made in the exploitation of minerals from the area (mainly copper, tin and lead) at Venta del Charco, Cerro del Aguila, Manuelas, Azuel and Almadenejos, which are observed today as attractions for travelers, also remains of the Iberians and Romans, such as foundry slag and the discovery of a veritable treasure trove of Roman coins and Iberian silver vessels in Azuel.
In the Middle Ages, the entire Comarca of Los Pedroches, which encompassed Cardena, belonged to the Cora or province of Fash-Al-Ballut, or Campo de Encinas. Arab remains were unearthed in the place called Castillo de Azuel.
Already in the late Middle Ages (1397), Enrique III granted to the city of Cordoba twelve “Ventas Francas” along the road to Almodovar del Campo and the actual Ciudad Real by way of Adamuz and El Villar, some of which were within the future municipal area of Cardeña (Venta de Los Locos, Venta de Velasco, Venta de la Cruz, Venta el Cerezo and Ventas Nuevas). Along the road from Montoro to Fuencaliente Montoro, crossing an uninhabited area of the Northeast appeared Venta de la Chaparrera, Venta del Charco, Venta Nueva de San Antonio, El Fresnedilla, Cardena, El Cerezo and Azuel, documented at least as early as the sixteenth century within the then “termino municipal” of Montoro. It is, with the exemption of any kind of tribute to those dedicated innkeepers and around these various Ventas, where settlers would gather from the eighteenth century and begin to till the land, which became the current population centres.
In 1930 an independence process, gestated from Cardena, and culminating in the segregation of Montoro and the establishment of the first Ayuntimiento, Cardeña being the youngest municipality in the province of Cordoba, which also includes the villages of Azuel and Venta del Charco.
Today Cardena belongs under the jurisdiction of Los Pedroches. Its economy is based on livestock, logging and hunting in the forests, and in other resources offered by the Natural Park Cardeña Montoro, tourism being a strong commitment to the future.
Nuestra Senora del Carmen (Parish Church,) built between 1950-1956, replacing the nineteenth-century church.
From the Metal Age (third millennium BC.) are preserved some remains of megalithic tombs (Torrubia) also remains of Iberian and Roman mines, in Venta del Charco, Cerro del Aguila, Manuelas and Azuel, where a treasure trove of Roman coins and Iberian silver vessels was discovered. Arab remains, in Castillo Azuel.
Aldea de Cerezo. Old farm town, restored for rural housing. Some houses are stone, with a granite lintel structure, wooden ceiling and tiled roof of Arabic design.
Typically mountain cuisine where cochifrito (fried suckling pig) and Iberian pork sausages are a delight for anyone who comes here. The most characteristic dishes are avian con carne from big game: wild boar and deer, which also makes delicious sausages. Lamb, bred freely in this area of wide pastures, is prepared in many ways: roast lamb, lamb stew, calderetto de cordero and garlic lamb fricassee. Small game hunting is also to be found in the cardeñera kitchen with dove, partridge and wood pigeon.
Other dishes of interest are: gazpacho with ham, scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms, migas, garlic and las gachas.
From Cordoba motorway N-IV to Montoro and thence N-420 to Cardeña. From Madrid to Autovia de Andalucia, take the N-420 to Ciudad Real, continue via Puertollano. From Ciudad Real and Puertollano: N-420 to Fuencaliente thence to Cardena, and to Azuel. From Jaen: motorway N-IV to Marmolejo and from there on the A-420 to Cardena, through Venta del Charco. From Badajoz: CO-450 from Monterrubio de la Serena to Belalcázar . A-422 and A423, from Cabeza de Buey to Cardena, to Belalcázar, Hinojosa del Duque, Fuente de Lancha, Villanueva del Duque, Alcaracejos, Pozoblanco and Villanueva de Córdoba.
Distances from Cardeña
Azuel 8 km
Cordoba 80 km
Montoro 36 km
Adamuz 62 km
Marmolejo 55 km
Puertollano 74 km
Fuencaliente 21 km
Villanueva de Córdoba 29 km