Castle of Santa Eufemia

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Monument

23700, Linares

Cástulo was one of the principal Ibero-Roman cities on the Iberian Peninsula. Currently, it is one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe. It boasts innumerable heritage, including the castle of Santa Eufemia, one of the last signs of the significance of a city that disappeared forever in the late Middle Ages.

Information

Schedule

  • Mornings: 09:00 – 14:00
  • Afternoons: 15:30 – 18:30 (winter); 17:30 – 20:00 (summer).
  • Closed on Mondays.

When the Arabs arrived in Hisn Qastulona, only a few traces of the splendour of the booming Ibero-Roman city remained. Cástulo was no more than a dispersed group of houses built in the shelter of an old wall. Gradually, in the 11th-13th centuries, the enclave began to experience a rebirth due to its strategic position close to the river Guadalimar. That is when the castle of Santa Eufemia was built.

The remains of the castle stand on the far side of the broad plateau where the city of Cástulo once stood, in the southern area. The castle’s Moorish tower, built to control the roads and defend the settlement, stands out. Oddly enough, after conquering it, the Christians turned the four-storey farmhouse tower into the keep of a small castle. It was short-lived, because in the late Middle Ages the fortification, like the rest of the town, was abandoned and its ruins handed over as a quarry to erect new buildings in the flourishing nearby towns of Úbeda and Baeza. That was the end of the brilliant city of Cástulo, which disappeared permanently as an inhabited area, despite its past splendour.

The Archaeological Site.

Cástulo is currently one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe, of which much remains to be discovered. In fact, findings are constant. A magnificent mosaic called the “Cupid Mosaic” by its discoverers and was recently rated by the National Geographic as one of the most important discoveries of 2012. Dated between the late 1st century and early 2nd century, the mosaic was found by chance during a search for Cástulo’s forum. The forum remains to be found, but the research work brought to light new public areas that were of vital importance for the ancient city. The latest finding, in November 2013, is an impressive sculpture of an Ibero-Roman lion that flanked one of the gates to the city. In the opinion of the experts, it is the best preserved animal sculpture from that Ibero-Roman period.

During the Iberian period, Cástulo was one of the oppidum – fortified cities – that flourished in Andalusia as a result of the mines in Sierra Morena. As the capital of Oretania, it even had its own currency. One of the best-known princesses in history, Imilce, married to the equally renowned Cartheginian general Hannibal, was born there. Years later, in the Roman period, Cástulo lost the status of a capital but it continued to be one of the most important cities in Hispania. Before its decline, Cástulo was even an Episcopal see with a representative in the Councils of Toledo during the Late Roman Empire.

A tour of the Archaeological Site, which boasts a modern Visitor Centre, provides an opportunity to learn more about these historical periods and discover some their important remains. The most attractive places for visitors are what is known as the Villa del Olivar (Olive Grove Villa), the Roman baths, the Cupid Mosaic, the necropolis, the north area of the walls and, of course, the ruins of the Arab castle. Those who are interested in finding out more about Cástulo’s past and what it meant for history may complete the tour of the archaeological site with a visit to the monographic museum in the city of Linares. It houses some of the household goods and most precious objects found among the city’s ruins: pottery, Iberian and Roman capitals, items from the grave goods found in the necropolis, objects for personal use, and even some items from the Visigoth period.

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