Estepa's architectural star is undoubtedly the 18th century Palacio de los Marqueses de Cerverales, officially declared a National Historic Artistic Monument in 1984. Completed in 1756 by the first Marquis of Cerverales, Manuel Bejarano y Campañón, it boasts a handsome Baroque façade with spiral Solomon columns, and in the interior a typical open courtyard.
The archaeological museum, the Museo Padre Martín Recio (calle Ancha 14), has a collection of local finds dating back to the Paleolithic period, and religious artefacts from Roman, Visigothic, Arabic and later cultures, including an intriguing Roman 'hypnos', or statue of the god of sleep. The building itself was built in 1636 as a school, was converted into a prison in 1702 and in the early 20th century reverted to a school run by a local religious order. We wonder what the pupils thought of its history?
The central Plaza El Carmen was as the name suggests built in honour of the Virgin Carmen. It was expanded in 1745 to accommodate a plaza de toros, bullring. Spain's shifting political fortunes have seen it baptised with various names over the centuries: Constitution Square, Royal Square, Republic Square, Generalísimo (General Franco) Square among them. It's more commonly known to townsfolk as 'el salón', 'the lounge', and the place where many of them congregate under the shade of its trees and in the cool from its central fountain.
The city walls that still surrounding the old town on the San Cristobal hill were first built in the 10th century by the Moors, renovated by Almohad invaders in the 12th, and again reconstructed when Estepa fell to the Christian Order of Santiago in the 13th. The keep inside the walls was built against attacks from Granada in the 14th century, and at 26 metres at its highest offers sweeping views of the town and surrounding countryside.
The old town also conceals a number of notable religious buildings.
Franciscan monks built a convent in the north-east corner of the
hill in 1603, and the convent, its church and house of novitiates
still stand. The proto-Baroque façade of the church features
a single body with a round arch and pediment split with pinnacles
[[Chris: this is eggs to me, and, therefore, I suspect to most
of your readers!]]. The tower is 22m high and topped by an impressive
belfry and spire.
Inbetween the squares of San Sebastian and Nuestro Padre Jesús is a small hermitage dedicated to Saint Sebastian, rebuilt in 1568 by Genoese architect Vicente Boyol. The present church has doors into both squares, Renaissance in style, but flanked by hefty Gothic buttresses.