The town of Lebrija with a population of just under 30,000 sits on the A471 between Jerez de la Frontera and Sanluar de Barrameda about 1 hours drive from Seville. Lebrija has managed to quietly disappear into the local landscape which belies its importance in times gone bye.
Lebrija has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, although the founding of Lebrija as a settlement, possibly did not take place until the Phoenicians arrived and named it Lepriptza.
Most people from Lebrija work in agriculture including beets, cotton and wheat and a large amount of grapes for the production of Manzanilla and Fino are also grown in the area. Lebrija's most famous product is pottery or earthenware. The local farmers were the first to cultivate the new crop brought from the Americas called corn.
At one time the town was a port on the shores of the Lacus Ligustinus, a very large inner lake surrounded by the Gualalquivir River. Gradually filling with silt the lake disappeared and became the now famous las Marismas or marshland, home to many endangered species and rarely seen birds.
The Romans believed that Lebrija or (Nebrissa Veneria) was founded by the god Bacchus (the god of wine). It is written that at night men celebrated the god dressed up as deer with deer skins on their heads. We are happy to say that these strange goings on ended with the Roman rule.
The town prospered and was a considerable centre of population during the Moorish period from 711 to 1249 when it was taken by King Ferdinand.
Many buildings of interest still stand in the town including the church of Santa Maria de la Oliva which was originally a mosque with its belltower in the style of the Giralda at the Cathedral of Seville. Areas of the church retain their mosque past and resemble the Mezquita in Cordoba.
While the Lebrijans go about their daily business quietly and enjoy their walks in the well kept avenues and their coffee in the outdoor cafés in the main square, they also like a good party. A whole host of festivals take place in Lebrija including the Caracola a major flamenco festival held every July. Many of the singers and dancers were born in Lebrija and have now moved on to international stardom but they always return, schedules permitting, to perform at the Caracola. If you like flamenco there is no better place to see it than Lebrija.
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