Spain Priego de Cordoba Travel Video
Explore a hidden gem in Spain, Priego de Cordoba, in this Equitrekking travel video.
On the drive from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Seville, I made a stop to explore a hidden gem in Andalucia, the town of Priego de Cordoba. This beautiful town is known for its high quality olive oil, which has been produced here since Roman times. In the 18th century, the town gained wealth from the silk trade and the historic homes of wealthy silk merchants still line the streets. Priego de Cordoba is small, so can easily be enjoyed on foot. Standing on the promenade high up on a hill on the edge of town, I looked out to see rolling hills of olive trees. I came here to see the town, but also learn about how the olive oil that I love so much gets from the fields to the table.
I started out on foot, past the town's largest church. It was just before a Sunday service, so I was able to explore inside. Decorated with the white stuccowork that is typical of the Andalucian Baroque style, the ornate ceilings were covered with white sculptures and lined with stained glassed windows. If I lived in this town, I would be a regular in this church just to sit and stare at the artistry.
Though I am only here for a day, lots of people visit Priego de Cordoba and rent homes in the area or stay with locals in small inns and B and B's. We passed a quaint B and B's as we walked from the church to the old Moorish section of the city, Barrio de la Villa.
The immaculate white washed homes in the historic area are charming. The streets here are definitely not vehicle friendly, as they are quite narrow. At times I could stretch out my arms and touch the walls on each side of the street. I looked up and around to see potted flowers hanging all along the walls. The whitewashed houses have a gray line painted between the bottom of each home and the cobblestone street. This gray line is thought to separate the bad parts of the world from the good, so that when you cross over it to go into your home, you don't bring the bad in with you. I saw one older woman sweeping the street and taking the dirt up with a pan. The residents here are in charge of keeping everything clean and take great pride in their neighborhood. One local resident told me that these potted flowers are kept out 365 days and year and have been for the past 30 years. Now that's neighborhood pride!
I then ventured past the homes of 18th century wealthy silk merchants on the town's main street by the opulent King's Fountain, before driving outside of the city to discover first-hand how olives are harvested to make olive oil.
Local Francisca García and Joanna Romero, our translator, took me to see how these olives get from the trees to the olive oil factory. Olives that we eat have to be picked by hand so they don't get bruised, but olives that make olive oil can be literally shaken from the trees. I watched eight workers beat the branches of the olive trees with large sticks. One man, their leader, used a machine, basically a long metal arm that vibrates the branches and loosens the olives. There is also a machine that literally shakes the trunk of the tree.
Francisca and I took turns beating the branches with a long wooden stick. This is very hard work, and trying it myself made me appreciate the olive oil that I consume even more.
A big mesh mat was placed around the bottom of the trees so that once the olives and parts of the branches hit the ground, they fell onto the mat and could be easily picked up and put into a truck that would take them to the olive press. We drove to the press, where the olives are separated from the leaves and branches and pressed into olive oil. Here, I was able to taste a few varieties. Francisca showed me the proper way to taste the olive oil. It's a lot like tasting wine. We warmed these small blue glasses filled with olive oil in the palm of our hands and then removed the glass cover, put there to keep the oil warm. Then we both smelled the oil. As Francisca described the different fragrances from the oil, including almonds and leaves, I was transported back to the countryside where the olives are harvested.
I am bringing back home lots of this olive oil, which actually won a prize as the "best olive oil in the world." Not sure what the contest was called or who judged, but it certainly was the best olive oil that I have ever tasted.