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The Northeast Route
*The route begins in the north of the Park in a small village at 585 metres altitude, known as Doña Mencia.
The narrow white streets of the village lead up to the 13th century Castillo and the Parroquia de la Consolación, which are a declared Monumental- Artistic Site.
The long history of the village id reflected in the Yacimiento de El Laderón and in the Museo Histórico, Arqueológico y Etnográfico, situated in the old Arab quarter.
*The route continues north to Baena. Known as Boniana to the ancient Roman historians, this picturesque village of steep- rising streets still conserves in good condition long stretches of the fortified wall and a number of towers of the fortress which once stood here.
Of religious architecture, the following stand out: the Convento Madre de Dios, the Parroquia de Santa María, the Parroquia de San Bartolomé and the ex- convent of San Francisco.
*A narrow road leads on to Zuheros. The village appears to the visitor mounted high on a rock, at the top its Muslim Castillo looking down over the River Bailón.
Situated at a natural gateway to the Park, this small village is one of the most beautiful and more representative of the flavour of narrow winding streets, of clear Arab origin, and the simplicity of the village make a strong impression on any visitor.
The Castle was built upon an ancient Roman Castellum by the Banu- Himsi, who settled here, intermarrying with the natives. Next to the fortress, in a small square which serves as a viewing point, stands the Iglesia de Santa María, built upon a one –time mosque.
4 kilometres out from Zuheros is situated the Cueva de los Murciélagos, which contains a number of interesting wall- paintings. In summertime the visitors must identify themselves to the staff of the Environmental Agency when entering the Park area, as a precaution against fire hazards.
*The route reaches the fourth stop, Luque. On a rock crag which stands over the village there stand the remains of the Arab fortress, subsequently converted into a castle. Further below, and presiding over an attractive square, is the 16th century Parroquia de la Asunción, a declared National Monument. A pleasant time can be had strolling around the uneven village streets visiting the numerous hermitages found here.
*Now the route moves along the northern boundary of the Park until Fuente Alhambra, where the Sierra is left behind for a few kilometres up to the entrance to Fuente Tojar. Close by this small village is the Cerro de las Cabezas, where the remains of ancient cultures have been found, and which also enjoys a fine, panoramic view. The village´s Museo Arqueológico houses the archaeological riches found here.
*Almedinilla is found further to the south. The origins of the village date back to the Iberian culture, as confirmed by the archaeological remains found at El Cerro de la Cruz, although Roman- era remains are also present at sites found at El Ruedo.
Among the village´s Arab- style streets is the Parroquia de San Juan Bautista. From here it is possible to visit el Salto del Caballo, a spectacular water spring.
*The route turns once again towards the Park area, to the village of Priego de Cordoba.
The area around this village is an authentic paradise for archaeologists, with finds from the Mid- Palaeolithic Era onwards, in places such as la Cueva de la Murcielaguina and the Cueva de los Cholones.
Although there are numerous indications of the Roman presence here, the village´s splendour is clearly inherited from the Arabs.<
The Barrio de la Villa quarter of the village is a declared Historical- Artistic Site, of medieval and Arab origins, similar to the Albaicín quarter in Granada, or the Judería (Jewish quarter) in Cordoba. Here stands the Arab Castillo- Fortaleza, with reforms in the 13th and 14th centuries.
The square Tower of the Homage, with three storeys and viewing balconies, is a declared National Monument. Six other towers go to complete an important heritage.
The balcony of El Adarve, which is in the heart of the Barrio de la Villa, has a wonderful panoramic view.
Priego de Cordoba is known as the capital of Cordobese Baroque: among its more outstanding monuments are the following churches: San Juan de Dios; La Aurora; La Asunción, a late- gothic building subsequently remodelled to Baroque style; San Francisco and Las Angustias.
The most outstanding example of civil architecture is La Fuente del Rey, a fountain with three different levels whose 139 pipes pay homage to the central figure of the water God, Neptune. Las Carnicerías Reales, with a fine Mannerist façade, are also worth visiting.
*Carcabuey. The first thing to see here is the site of the 13th century Castillo and the Ermita de la Virgen del Castillo, surrounded by plant life, and overlooking a fine panorama from the top of a crag. Good examples of the village´s religious architecture are the churches of la Parroquia de la Asunción, with its narrow tower, and the Ermitas de San Marcos y San José. House number 16 in la Carrera de Santa Ana is a fine 17th century construction.
Close to Carcabuey are los Manantiales de las Palomas, Fuente Dura and Marsegar.
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