Spain Savvy Destination Spotlight:
Santa Olalla and Real de la Jara
(Sierra Norte of Seville)
The following is a guest post written exclusively for Spain Savvy by Lucy Williams
A feast for the senses. A mountain getaway a stone’s throw from Seville.
Castles, stunning countryside and the best Iberian ham. What more could you ask for on a day trip? Ancient fortifications, breath-taking views and delicious food. And all within easy reach of Seville, just an hour down the motorway. Take a trip to the Parque Natural de la Sierra Norte de Sevilla and to Santa Olalla for some of the best Iberian ham you’ve ever tasted. Walk into any bar and order a tostada con tomate, aceite y jamón and you won’t be disappointed.
Little more than a large village, Santa Olalla has a pretty central square with a fountain and a ruined castle perched at the edge of the village. It’s a great stop for breakfast and the aforementioned ham. After your ham toasty or churros from the stall on the edge of the main square, take a stroll to down to the 13th century castle. Built as a fortification by Sancho IV in 1293, it has great views over the surrounding countryside. Entry is free.
After all that fresh air it’s time for lunch. If you’ve decided to bring a picnic, head for Real de la Jara and stop off at the Rivera del Cala recreation area on your right. With a stream and picnic benches it’s a great spot to relax in the open air. If you’re looking for more history, carry on towards the village of Real de la Jara, where you’ll find another castle, this time dating from the mid-14th century. The castle is set in rolling fields, you will probably only have the sheep for company. Take a deep breath of fresh mountain air for the short stroll up the hill. After a wander round you’ll be ready for a hearty meal in front of an open fire, especially if you’ve come in autumn or spring when it can be sunny but cold. Try Mesón La Cochera, a stone’s throw from the castle. After lunch, explore the village. As well as the castle, there’s a chapel thought to have originally been an Arab mosque, the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, on Calle Cervantes. If churches are your thing, the Iglesia de San Bartomolé has works dating from the 13th century, including a work attributed to Zurbarán, Las Animas.
Before you set back off for the hustle and bustle of the city, maybe a coffee and one of the sweet treats the area is famous for. Look out for homemade honey pastries like roscos, piñonates and virutas realeñas.
Photo credit: Lucy Williams