Orcera, Sierra de Segura Municipality
Orcera is a beautiful town located in the northeast of the province, over a slope near the River Amurjo, in the central area of Sierra de Segura. Its mountainous landscape is full of interesting landscape places, like Amurjo, the Estrechos, Navalcaballo, Valdemarín and Linarejos. We have to emphasize some monuments such as the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the Fountain of Los Chorros and the Towers of Santa Catalina.
Its municipality belongs to the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, that is the biggest protected space in Spain: an orographical labyrinth of valleys, limestone quarries, cuts, 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.
We have the first news about the origin of Orcera during the Bronze Age, in places like La Laguna, to the south of the village La Hueta and 1300 metres high, where we can find fragments of carving silex.
During the Neolithic the valleys of the Rivers Trujala and Orcera, together with the River Guadalimar, have many high places, like the Cerro de la Atalaya and the Peñón de Utrero that controlled the valley and low places, with fertile lowlands of the rivers, such as Cerro de la Coja where there was found a trepanned skull and ceramics in its burials.
Another kind of settlement of this time is the Cueva del Águila, that could have been a place of worship or a place with temporary occupation.
In Orcera we can find the dolmen of the Cueva and the Middle Bronze site of the Atalaya. In the dolmen met the witches, who were famous in Jaén, like a popular song shows: Four from Andújar, Three from Iruela, Who dance, they were from Orcera.
Like in other places of El Valle all the information about the cultural development and the history of these towns disappeared until the end of the Iberian period we have news about an occupation with small factories that will go up during the stay of the Romans.
Like this seems to happen in Orcera with the Discovery of the Iberian ceramics near the old Alfar del Lobo and the Roman places called La Mesa del Cementerio, near the hill of La Coja, Tentadero, in the exit of Orcera towards Benatae or the Aguadero in the road towards Valdemarín in the meeting point of the Rivers Trujala and Orcera.
During the Islamic Period, Orcera was a little farmhouse (Qarya) located next to the River Orcera and inside the administrative district of Saqura (Segura de la Sierra). During the XI century, after the creation of the kingdom Taifa de Saqura and in view of the Hazard of the Castilians armies, during the XII and XIII centuries, Orcera, like the rest of the surrounding farmhouses of Segura, erected its own defensive enclosures.
In Orcera we can see three towers from this period, called: Santa Catalina 1, Santa Catalina 2, Santa Catalina 3 and we have news about another, the Tower of Orcera, of which there are not remains and that is located in the square.
Orcera was conquered in 1.230 by the troops of the alfoz in Alcaraz. On the contrary to the rest of the adjacent lands, it was not belong to the Orden de Santiago, owner of the surroundings of Segura by the privilege of Fernando III.
It belonged to the jurisdiction of Alcaraz until 25 November, 1.285, and later to the one of Segura de la Sierra by a privilege of the king Sancho IV, that is conserved in the Archivo Histórico Nacional, donated it to the Orden of cavalry in Santiago and to its grand master Pedro Núñez, being this donation confirmed by Alfonso XI in Alcalá de Henares 8 April, 1.329.
Orcera belonged to the Orden de Santiago, Chancillería de Granada and Bishopric de Cartagena. In 1468 Orcera had 50 inhabitants and in 1575 it had 500. In that time Orcera has around 350 houses, with more than 500 inhabitants; that is more or less 2.250 inhabitants.
From the Fountain of Santa María de la Peña, located at the outskirts of the town, the water of the square is brought, to a fountain with two iron spouts with its pillar and another in the entrance of the town. The people from Orcera do not work much the agriculture and stockbreeding that was run under seasonal migration of livestock, for which they have the right by privilege to the pastures of the town. The main dedication was the wooden work, making troughs, chairs and other uses, besides the extraction of the pitch from the pines. From this first new, Orcera has been a timber town. Its pines have took part in all its pipes made by the rivers that start in Sierra de Segura.
In Orcera there was the Franciscan Monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Peña (current location of the bullring) in which Jorge Manrique’s mother and youngest brothers were buried, and where the image that appeared in a cave behind the washing place was worshiped.
In the vestry of that monastery met the attorneys of the towns, to prepare the between 27 and 29 July, 1580 the “Ordenanzas del Común de la villa de Segura y su tierra” with the aim of keeping, preserving and managing the mountains of Segura.
The ordinances were confirmed 5 June, 1581 by Felipe II in Madrid being in force until 1748 year in which it was set up the Maritime Province of Segura de la Sierra, whose headquarters and ministry were in Orcera, in that it was poor quarter of Segura de la Sierra.
In 1836 that maritime province is abolished and in 1837, Orcera makes independent of Segura de la Sierra, being an independent town. The monastery was dismantled, moving its front to the present parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, built in the time of Felipe II, at the end of XVI century.
The first half of the XIX century, from the institutional point of view, was characterized by the disappearance of the feudal rights and the lordships and its replacement by the private property of the natural and productive resources. The private property and the individual rights were established due to the agrarian liberal reforms, especially disentailments and discharging. However, if the first half of the XIX century was characterized by what we have told, during the second half of the XIX century we can see the consequences in Orcera.
The last reason of that was the put into practice of the disentailment measures conceived by Pascual Madoz that, like it is known, affected the goods with private and collective corporation, the same way as the changes that will suffer the forest areas. The wood and the mountain continued to be basic areas for the economy of the town; towards 1879 Orcera had an area with mountains estimated at 9.376 Hectares.
The importance of the mountain contrasted with the privatization policy and state step undertaken by the Administración General, policy that, as we would have expected, intensified the conflicts around the mountain in the town. Like in other places of the area, the forest conflicts turned into emblems not only in the course of the second half of the XIX century but also in the XX century.
Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, XVI century. The bell tower belongs to an old tower of the castle.
Orcera Archaeological Sites
Towers of Santa Catalina. Old Arab towers.
Square of the Town Hall with pentagonal-shaped.
Fountain of Los Chorros, XVI century. Renaissance style.
Ruleras fried breadcrumbs. Ajopringue (bread with liver). Ajo de harina with peas (a stew of cod and a sauce of tomato, pepper, garlic, saffron, paprika, cumin and sprinkled flour). Gachamigas (oatmeal porridges). Chickpeas stew (made with bread and cod). Fritao. Andrajos con liebre (a stew of flour flat cakes with tomato, onion, garlic, red pepper and hare). Galianos (gazpacho). Pipirrana (a salad with peppers, onion, cucumber and tuna). Cuerva (a typical serrano soup).
Sweets: Roscos de Candelaria. Enreos (a typical dessert from Holy Week).
How to get there
From Madrid take the motorway N-IV to Manzanares, then you have to turn off La Solana, then in the road CM-3127 to Villanueva de los Infantes – Montiel – Albaladejo – (until you get the N322) and then towards Úbeda – La Puerta de Segura – Orcera.
From Valencia you have to take the Motorway N-430 until Albacete, and then take the N-322 until you get La Puerta de Segura – Orcera
From Granada you have to take the motorway N-323 to Jaén, from here take the Motorway A-316 to Úbeda and then the road N-322 (towards Albacete) to La Puerta de Segura – Orcera
From Córdoba you have to take the motorway N-IV to Bailén and from here take the road N322 (towards Albacete) to Úbeda – Villacarrillo – La Puerta de Segura – Orcera.
Distances from Orcera
Siles 18 km
Jaén 145 km
Úbeda 89 km
Benatae 5 km
Villacarrillo 58 km
Los Arroyos 15 km
La Puerta de Segura 9 km
Segura de la Sierra 7,5 km