Santisteban del Puerto
Santisteban del Puerto, Comarca de El Condado
Santisteban del Puerto belongs to the region known as El Condado and it occupies a central strip that follows the direction towards south-north until the provincial boundary with Albacete. The open spaces are abundant in its municipal district, especially in the mountainous area of the north half. Most of the area is not cultivated, predominating the timber-yielding woodlands and the natural fields; we can find them in the north area of the municipal district. The cultivated lands have, basically, olive groves. The economic activity revolves around the olive grove, the mill for making olive oil, the sheep and the big and small game, without forgetting the hotel trade.
Santisteban del Puerto, birthplace of El Condado, has had like the first settlers during the first times the dinosaurs and we can observe their footsteps. It is about icnitas (ichnites, a fossilised footprint) found in the place called Erillas Blancas, 1 kilometre away from the urban area, next to the local road towards Linares. According to the scientific works that were carried out, these footprints have its origin in the Mesozoic Era, 230 thousand million years ago. These footprints, the only of this kind known, belonged to a vertebrate and biped animal, from the arcosaurios (archosaurs) family. During the Prehistory, in the Palaeolithic, this area was inhabited by the first human settlers according to the traces found all over its municipal district: stone tools remains, the cave paintings found in Las Cuevas del Apolinario and the one of La Morciguilla, declared Patrimonio de la Humanidad (World Heritage) by UNESCO, and settlements in other caves from Sierra del Oro and La Alameda, such as the cave of El Romeral, Salto del Fraile, La Cespera and others. We can also observe tools from the Neolithic, like the ones found in the estate of, to the South-east of the municipal district, like polishing axes, ceramics remains and hand mills.
Later the Iberians with their Oretani tribes (pre-Roman Iberian or Celtic people of the Iberian Peninsula, from Oretania) inhabited these lands. One of these settlements was located in the plateau of the Castle San Esteban like we can observe in the iron and bronze votive offerings with human figures and eagle heads that you can find in the Real Academia de la Historia, or the pieces of pottery. But the most important finds were located in the areas of Perotito in the centre of the municipal district, and to the north of La Alameda, the treasures that were found there are located in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional and in the Museo de Jaén respectively.
The Phoenicians and Greeks also reached these lands of Santisteban del Puerto, to which they called Itangi. However, the Romans marked the cultural identity of the town, leaving like a legacy of their stay the development and splendour that were always attributed to the town of Ilugo (the Roman name for Santisteban del Puerto). One of the finds that testified the presence of the Roman civilization in Santisteban is the pedestal of Adriano’s statue in the area around it. During this period, the town places itself like a referent of progress due to two main factors: its frontier location between the regions Ulterior and Citerior, belonging to the last one; and the availability of two important communication routes: Vía Augusta and Vía Cartaginense like fundamental central points regarding the trade and the economic development. Like cultural heritage of this civilization, Santisteban del Puerto preserves columns, tombstones, the mosaic of “La Peñuela” that we can find in the Museo Provincial, coins, capitals and other finds that prove the grandeur and wealth reached in this age.
After the Roman rule, in the V century Santisteban del Puerto will admit the Visigoth culture, that will call the town San Esteban. We can observe some proofs about their stay like the baptismal font of “La Peñuela” that you can find in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, the capitals of the Church Santa María del Collado and some Visigoth clasps watched over in the Museo Británico de Londres.
In the VIII century the Moslem culture will give its indelible trace in the town. The presence of the Moslems in these lands was one of most height and splendour in Santisteban del Puerto, not only because of the cultural wealth but also due to the strategic location in all their architectural constructions. Its name was kept but a bit arabized, Sant Astiban. One of the most representative buildings in this period is the Castle of San Esteban to which the Moslems attached a great importance for many years due to its frontier location between the Moorish and Christian kingdom. The first Moslems who conquered these lands were Banu Habil-Mundir ben Hurayz and his three brothers Habil, Amir and Umar until, in internal fight, they were defeated by Abd-al Rahman III.
The end of the Moslem occupation came with the Reconquest that brought in Santisteban del Puerto directed by the King Fernando III until; finally, in 1226 he controlled the territory. Later, in 1254, Alfonso X, dediced to annex the town of Santisteban del Puerto with Úbeda.
However, Sancho IV recognizes, in 15, March 1285 through Carta Foral, the privilege of Villa Real to Santisteban del Puerto in which it will be one of the key dates in the history of this town. An awarding that, later, will defend by his son the king Fernando IV and that, soon after, he will give the Orden de Calatrava.
This town, as well as its historic and cultural importance, it has also had a decisive moment during the course of some political facts with national nature like its support to Pedro I opposite Enrique III during the Succession War. After Enrique II’s victory in the Battle of Montiel on the 14st of March, 1369, Santisteban del Puerto lost its privilege of villa and turned into Men Rodríguez de Biedma’s lordship, who was one of the main King Enrique’s defenders.
The importance that the lordship reached made that Santisteban del Puerto obtained the rank of Condado (County). During this period, the king Enrique IV cedes the town together with the lands of Castellar and Navas to Sánchez de Benavides, who becomes the first earl of Santisteban on the 21st of September 1473. After ten earls at the head of Santisteban, the county comes to an end to give way a duchy of which Manuel de Benavides y Aragón will be its first duke.
During the 265 years that the historic County Condado has been in force, Santisteban del Puerto has been composed of the current municipal districts that belong to the jurisdictions of Santisteban, Aldeaquemada, Castellar, Montizón, Navas de San Juan, part of Arquillos and part of Ibros, until the Cortes de Cádiz (Regional Assembly of Cádiz) ordered the abolition of the lordships.
Santisteban del Puerto Monuments
Church of Santa María del Collado that has a tower-belfry belonging to the old Arab castle. The remains of an old Visigoth temple were used to carry out part of the Romanesque church in the XIII century, that at first it would not reach until the tower. Because of all this, in the XVII century, there were added two arcades more at the request of the Cardinal Merino.
Sanctuary of Santa María del Collado. Romanesque style. We can emphasize its Byzantine capitals.
Church of San Esteban. Romanesque style. It conserves the two chapels and the apse of the primitive construction.
Hermitage of El Egido, from the beginning of the XVII century.
Roman ruins in Ilugo.
Remains from the Moslem town.
Castle. We can only observe the ruins of it.
A village in a mountain.
Traditional urban design well preserved.
Plain of La Mata.
Museum Jacinto Higueras.
Santisteban del Puerto Gastronomy
There are a great variety of typical dishes in Santisteban del Puerto, but we have to emphasize the gachamigas (oatmeal porridges made with flour, salt and oil), ajoatao (potato, lemon juice, egg, oil and salt), andrajos (stew of flour flat cakes with tomato, onion, garlic, red pepper and rabbit) and migas (breadcrumbs fried with garlic).
How to get there
You have to exit Jaén and continue in J-14, then take the Motorway A-316 towards Mancha Real – Baeza – Úbeda. Alleyway of Puente Nuevo and follow until you arrive Baeza. Alleyway of Baeza and Úbeda. Then take the Motorway A-6103 and arrive Sabiote. You have to exit Sabiote and follow the signs until Santisteban del Puerto.
Distances from Santisteban del Puerto
Jaén 96 km
Úbeda 40 km
Linares 49 km
Arquillos 25 km
Villacarrillo 23 km
Camporredondo 21 km
Beas de Segura 34 km
Navas de San Juan 14 km
Villanueva del Arzobispo 28 km
Castellar de Santisteban 8,5 km