Like many of the villages on the famous pueblo blanco route of Andalucia, Jimena de la Frontera has a long and distinctive past. It may not be as famous as the larger towns of Cadiz province, such as Ronda but it has all its own credentials.
Like many Spanish villages, Jimena is known for its unique beauty and spectacular setting. The hilltop location and the whitewashed houses huddled around its ruined castle are a signature of Andalusian villages like these. It is set on the edge of Los Alcornocales , an ancient cork-oak forest and commands stunning views out across the Straits of Gibraltar and beyond into North Africa. These attributes have made this site a great place for human habitation for many hundreds of years, as recent excavations at the Castle have shown.
From 1059AD Xemina, was ruled by Arabs who gave it the name we currently use, but it has been a site of human habitation for many years before this. Jimena replaced the name given to it by the Romans, Oba. The Arab influence is immediately visible in the castle which overlooks the town below but it is the Roman influence which has been attracting the attention of archaeologists and historians lately.
Over the years, bilingual coins have been found on the site, they are proof of the existence of a Libyan-Phoenican settlement on the site with the name “OBA”. After the conquest by Rome the name OBA was Latinised and converted into Res Publica Obensis, endowing it with the status of a town under the government of Emperor Vespasian.
The towns interesting history could have been forgotten if not for the daily wanderings of a local man, Hamo Sassoon, a retired archaeologist living in Jimena. He began the preservation of the site and his work continues today. Modern restoration work has opened the castle and archaeology up to the public and includes a walkway around the remains giving spectacular views across the rich fertile plains between the Rio Hoz Garganta and the Guadiaro leading out towards The Straits of Gibraltar.
If you are looking for somewhere to visit in Andalusia and history and nature are your cuppa, then Jimena is definitely worth a look. It is well situated for a stay in some of the most varied history in Europe. Locally, there are ancient cave paintings at La Caja Alta which highlight the ancient towns’ relationship to Carteia and the bay of Gibraltar. Gibraltar is closeby and has many sights of it own, including Gorehams cave where Neanderthals lived. Corominas and its transplanted underground prehistoric necropolis is a half an hours drive away, the world famous dolmen at Antequera are a two hour drive and the staggeringly beautiful Pileta caves and their paintings are on another edge of los Alcornocales not far away. Some might say this beautiful, ancient Oak forest is the real star of Jimena, that is open to a very happy debate!
Further afield, but not too far are the remains of a much more developed Roman settlement at Bolonia of Baelo Claudia, the ancient town of Tarifa and some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain on the Costa de la Luz.