Los Marines is a village that is located on the road between Aracena with Portugal, in the middle of the Natural Park of the Sierra de Aracena and los Picos de Aroche, one of the most important protected areas of the community which occupies the entire north of the province with its meadows and small hills covered predominantly with oak forests, cork trees, chestnut trees and scrub, where numerous streams flow, forming a place of extraordinary beauty. It is ideal for livestock, especially for the Iberian pig, which finds the conditions ideal.
The town centre, like the Church of Ntra. Sra. de Gracia, is classified as an Asset of Cultural Interest.
Los Marines had the fortune to come into being as a promised land for the austere people that came from Galicia. Indeed, the settlement was built by men from the Sil in the fourteenth century (Santiago and Santana, 1985), led by the Marin brothers, probably from the town of the same name, in what is now the province of Pontevedra.
Thus, the landscape contains many names of Galician origin, such as Balamban, Los Garrido, Palero, Valdelamar, Las Torneras etc. (Recio Moya, R., 1994).
Little by little, these scattered settlements led to the founding of the village of Los Marines, which in the sixteenth century already had a church under the protection of the Virgen de la Gracia.
The men earned a living from farming and agriculture, and hunting / gathering.
During the seventeenth century, this town bore the yoke of Aracena. Surely, given the context of crisis, a silent struggle for survival ran through all aspects of life, and the general downturn would be lengthened by this calamitous century. The only thing to break the silence was the incorporation in 1630 of the baptismal font, which can still be seen in the parish church.
In general, Los Marines suffered the same fate as Aracena, where most of the wealth and land ownership was tightly concentrated “because the poverty level increases from Aracena towards their villages” (Candau Chacón, 1988; 403).
Until the mid-seventeenth century it was Royal land of the Council of Aracena in the kingdom of Seville. In 1640 it passed into stately jurisdiction, after it was donated by Philip IV to the Count-Duke of Olivares, Don Gaspar de Guzman, as payment for services rendered in the battle of Fuenterrabía.
After the death of the Count-Duke in 1645 the estate passed to the Count of Altamira and Marquis of Astorga, who held the title Prince of Aracena until 1812.
The eighteenth century witnessed the strengthening and consolidation of the town. The lawyer don Juan Simón Zapata Corone, in his etymological description of the Principality of Aracena, includes Los Marines as a village, a mile away from Aracena “on the road to the town of Castaño, with 36 residents who pick up some fruits and wines, and a great number of chestnuts. ”
Los Marines would become known for its agricultural wealth (although in a local context it was not well suited for this purpose), but there was still a certain demographic pressure, which could be detected in the expansion of the number of olive and fig trees, as well as within Municipal Ordinances that “provide expensive care for the vineyards, and protect livestock and human workers “(González Sánchez, 1988).
Despite the slight revival, Los Marines was one of the poorest villages in Aracena, for its parish had a budget in the range of 200 to 300 reals per year, compared for example with the Church of La Asunción in Aracena, which had 15,000 reales.
However, the church contributed noticeably to the consolidation and development of the settlement, because as a result of “Lenten missions” preached by the missionary Joan Calbo, “the village of Los Marines managed to get Aracena to accede to ensure the permanent presence of the Eucharist in the sanctuary of the church … and in thanks to the village, August 31, 1705 was the Sacramental Brotherhood” (Mora Galiana, 1996). This, in addition to the religious functions, was the reason for the feast of Poplar, which had been held for more than 100 years on the eve of Corpus and dates from time immemorial, probably linked to the first settlers from Galicia.
The continued decapitalization and the decline that the capital of the Principality exercised over the villages (Candau Chacón, 1988), such as harassment, complaints against the Corregidor (local royal administration), extortion against families and property, and other charges … encouraged Los Marines to continually ask for independence from Aracena.
Thus, in 1753 they dared to sue the Countess of Altamira for permission to beg of King Carlos III the grace of “exempción and release from many oppressions” (Santiago and Santana, 1985).
Finally, on February 7, 1768, the King granted the title and privilege of town to Los Marines, and they were exempted from the jurisdiction of Aracena. However, this was not a free concession, as the 78 inhabitants had to pay 585 000 “maravedís de vellón” (fleece coppers), a rate of 7,500 per inhabitant, to escape the rule of Aracena.
But independence did not save Los Marines from the difficulties of subsistence. In the ongoing struggle, with a poor medium, they had no “separate property” that covered municipal services or the plight of the inhabitants. This shortfall was met partly from 1775, when the king granted a royal provision to Los Marines of 150 acres in the meadowlands of Propios de Aracena.
These assets occasionally solved the residents’ demand for food, as they received land to help the poor agricultural economy by drawing “lots” (AMM, 1787, Leg. 53). Although this partially solved the problems of livelihood, Los Marines entered the nineteenth century suffering two disasters: war and disease.
The War of Independence, which brought the occupation and looting of the town on May 26, 1810 by French troops, caused enormous damage, mainly in the church, which had its archives burned and was converted into barracks (Lasso, 1991 .)
This posed a significant decline in municipal lands, because in 1811 there was an “auction of several pieces of meadow and lots of areas of chestnut trees” (AMM, 1811 Leg. 54).
Disease, the daily companion of the old regime, came to Los Marines in the form of two outbreaks of cholera, which decimated the population. Looking for some hope against the plague, Los Marines began the fiesta of Voto in honour of the Virgen de Gracia, which is celebrated on 8 September.
During the twentieth century, Los Marines moves between a struggle for survival and progress towards modernity. This was a great drain on the population who could not counter an archaic agriculture, were unable to mechanize and encountering strong barriers to trade in a local context of decline in economy and population.
Gardens and chestnut orchards could not sustain a population that, although very slowly growing, had very narrow municipal boundaries.
They soon found that the limited capacity for sustenance on such diminished boundaries meant that they could only provide for about 500 people. Early in this century, the population started to migrate, first to the spaces near the Rio Tinto Mine, and Seville, and then to areas further afield.
The silent, cold, “knife of hunger” was felt by each family of Los Marines. The worsened economic situation intensified social problems (Lasso, 1991), as there was nothing to distribute because the land, source of life, was too fragmented.
So in 1959, after the stage of self-sufficient living seen nationwide after the civil war, the doors opened and Los Marines could not retain its people, losing nearly 50% of its population.
However, hope remains; perhaps for those who stayed, perhaps for those who have returned. Perhaps because of the Cherstertons, the exotic English couple who run the finca Buena Vina, and have a commitment to quality tourism. Los Marines, a paradise of the Sierras wating to be discovered, faces the tough challenge of continuing with its story.
Los Marines Monuments
Site of Historical-Artistic Interest.
Fountain for doing laundry
Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de Gracia, the eighteenth century.
Dwellings, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Los Marines Gastronomy
Migas with potatoes. Sausages.
Los Marines Directions
Going towards Seville on the A92 motorway you will find, after about 15 km, the exit for San Juan del Puerto-Trigueros.
Head towards Trigueros, passing through little towns like Beas and Zalamea la Real.
After passing the last town, you have two options:
take the detour to Rio Tinto which leads to Aracena
or continue by the National 435 and, after passing the Jabugo crossing, head in the direction of Seville
After you pass Galaroza and the turnings for Fuenteheridos and Valdelarco, you will come to the turning signposted Los Marines.
Distances from Los Marines
Jabugo 15 km
Aroche 36 km
Sevilla 94 km
Huelva 108 km
Aracena 6,5 km
Galaroza 9,5 km
Cortegana 22 km
Fuenteheridos 5 km