Priego de Córdoba

June 13th is the feast day of San Antonio de Padua, patron of Frigiliana, and so for four days the fairground is in town, a marquee goes up in the main plaza and the merriment begins. All well and good, but our home is only 200 metres maximum from all of this, and so we are particularly conscious of the the thump, thump, thump of the bass beat on the fairground rides, and of the disco music and live group music issuing from the marque. The fairground stops at about 1am, but the disco carries on until 5 or even 6 o'clock in the morning. So this year we decided to go away. We chose Priego de Córdoba, a town about two hours drive away in the Sierra Subbética of Córdoba Province. It is a town of around 20,000 people renowned for its collection of churches in the Baroque style. Following the Reconquest of 1492, and the expulsion of the Arabs - especially the silk farmers, weavers and merchants, Priego became the Christian centre of the silk industry and until the arrival of artificial silk in the nineteenth century, it was a prosperous city. This is reflected in some superb architecture along the length of Calle Rio, then the homes of the merchants, and now housing the professional district of lawyers and architects. The whole area of interest to the visitor is contained within a fairly compact space that calls for no more than ten or fifteen minutes to walk it from end to end, which we did for two days. The hotel I flagged up in my previous posting, and I can thoroughly recommend it for a short stay. It is a typical Córdoban style house, built around a central patio, and the ground floor houses a modern Arab hammam or bathhouse with steam room, and cold, tepid and hot pools; you can also book a massage by the pool side. The restaurants worth visiting are all within a five minute walk of the hotel, and all serve typical, Córdoban dishes. Menus are similar wherever you choose, whether in content or in quality, so you can choose on the basis of the people-watching potential of the terrace. Then on Sunday, my satnav led us across country on a very scenic country road back to Málaga and then to Frigiliana in plenty of time for the midnight firework display that closed the feria.

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