One of the main characteristics of Alcaracejos Mozárabe, the Camino Mozárabe de Santiago through the term of Alcaracejos, substantiates the variety of landscapes that it crosses and how history and those who inhabited these mountains and meadows modeled the territory as a mosaic of forest areas, livestock and cultivation. From the mountains to the surroundings of the municipality we find riverside forests, quartzite ridges surrounded by the original Mediterranean mountain, mountain olive groves, dehesas with scrubland and dehesas with grassland, pine forests, pseudo-steppes and the remains of mining areas with small associated wetlands.
The configuration of the landscape is the product of land management, its characteristics, the different property regimes and land uses. The landscape of Alcaracejos Mozárabe is as changeable along the route as it has been at different times in history.
The two areas of typically Mediterranean riparian forests that we will visit are Guadalbarbo and Cuzna. Both have sections declared a Special Conservation Area (ZEC) and a Site of Community Importance (LIC).
The state of the Mediterranean forest or maquis endows these spaces with different variables depending on their state of conservation. Walking along the path we can admire areas of original mountain in places where no pasture has been planted or olive trees have been planted. The Sierra de La Chimorra, the Barranco de la Calera, in the surroundings of La Molineta, or the vegetation that surrounds the quartzite ridges such as that of the Peñón del Lazarillo are examples of the original mount.
Mountain olive grove
We are facing a landscape that is the product of human action. The massive planting of olive trees in this mountain range began at the end of the 18th century but intensified throughout the 19th century. Hundreds of people inhabited these mountains for decades removing the mount and planting olive trees, vineyards and fruit trees. Finally, this consolidated a very unique landscape with a rich associated culture of folklore, production methods and relationship with the natural environment.
The meadow is the most emblematic landscape of Los Pedroches. The dehesa arises from the relationship between man and the original Mediterranean forest and this symbiosis is an example of sustainability. For millennia, those who have inhabited this territory have removed the bushy substrate of rockroses, Kermes oaks, strawberry trees, gorse, among other species, to free up the trees: holm oaks, fundamentally, and, to a lesser extent, cork oaks and gall oaks, reduced to areas higher and more humid. This conservation of the tree favors the generation of pastures, of acorns, allows the sowing of cereal and generates a multitude of livestock, agricultural and forestry uses.
The environment of Calatraveño preserves a very attractive pine forest, which alternates with the Mediterranean mountain and mixes with holm oaks, cork oaks, gall oaks, rockroses, strawberry trees, Kermes oaks, thyme, rosemary and endless bushes. These pine forests are ideal spaces for lovers of mycology and in autumn-winter they are populated with mushrooms and fungi of all kinds, among which the chanterelle stands out. Although there are several mixed pine species, the large stone pine specimens stand out with their characteristic rounded crown.
The history of mining runs parallel to that of Alcaracejos. Although today the economy of the municipality depends on agriculture and livestock, until well into the 20th century, the mines employed hundreds of people. The vestiges of this activity abound throughout the municipality and are easily recognizable. El Rosalejo, Cantos Blancos, Mina Guillermín, El Chaparro, among others, are some of the best examples, ideal for those who love mining and industrial architecture. Beyond the Alcaracejos terminus, near the Morras del Cuzna area, already in the Villanueva del Duque terminus, we can visit the remains of the El Soldado mines.
Crops, pastures and orchards
As we approach the town, the dehesa clears up and the trees, although larger, are less dense and plantings, pastures and orchards gain ground. The action of man is more noticeable, product of a greater parcel disintegration. These small farms accommodate leisure spaces, small olive groves, orchards, cowsheds or fodder plantings for livestock.
The popular architecture of Alcaracejos adapts to the terrain and the materials of the region. Granite, slate, quartzite and sobriety make up a way of building that evolves from the mountains to the Los Pedroches plain. In the sierra it is common to see small farmhouses that are little more than cattle shelters, but there are also large farmhouses that date from the times of the olive boom – mid-19th century-early 20th-. These haciendas, with the sobriety typical of the territory, were in most cases oil mills and even, in some cases, wine presses. In the jarales area, small farmhouses built of slate stone and buttresses are common, and the growing livestock character of the territory means that stone walls abound, an example of construction that is as simple as it is admirable. Granite, which is usually used between the mountains and the jarales as a noble element for lintels, thresholds and reinforcement pieces, is the most remarkable element in the urban area of Alcaracejos. Unfortunately, this town was very affected by the bombings and by the combats of the Civil War (1936-1939), but even so, many houses were preserved and rebuilt that respond to the typical canon of Los Pedroches: granite facade, vaults and cobblestone. with quartzite and slag from the mines.