I have already mentioned that Jumilla is the “Ciudad del Vino”, but is it really a city or is it just a town? Most British people visiting Jumilla for the first time assume that, with a population of just over 25,000, it is a town. We expect cities either to have a cathedral, which traditionally was the case, or to have a significant population - therefore we wouldn’t consider Jumilla to be a city. However Jumilla was granted city status by King Alfonso XIII on July 17th 1911, and the city has just celebrated its centenary. At the same time the Town Hall was granted the title of “Excelentísimo”.
Jumilla was honoured because of “the increasing development of agriculture, industry and trade and their constant adherence to the constitutional monarchy”. I don’t know how many citizens are monarchists nowadays, but I do know that the wine industry in particular is always looking for new markets and introducing initiatives such as “Música entre Vinos”, so they are definitely following in the footsteps of their ancestors.
While I am talking about the history of Jumilla, maybe I should mention how many significant dates for the city end with the number 1.
1241 – Alfonso X conquered Jumilla for the Kingdom of Castile.
1411 – Saint Vicente Ferrer preached in Jumilla and the first Holy Week procession was held.
1461 Juan Pacheco, the Marquis of Villena, restructured the old castle and built the Torre de Homenaje, as seen today.
1911 – King Alfonso XIII granted Jumilla City status.
1931 – The Parish Church of Santiago and El Casón (Roman funeral monument) were declared National Monuments.
1981 – Old town of Jumilla was declared of historical importance.
1991 – HM Queen Sofía visited Jumilla for the inauguration of the Teatro Vico after its restoration.
The first significant date was 600 millions years ago, when a series of mammals left their footprints in the area of La Hoya de la Sima. Another important date was 1,500 BC when the first Bronze Age population settled in the city.
The Romans arrived in 180 BC, settling in and around the current site of Jumilla, until the troops of Abd-El-Azid conquered Jumilla in 713. It was the Arab conquerors who named the town Jamila – meaning beautiful - and they ruled until Alfonso X (remember him?) conquered the town in 1241.
When we first visited the local archaeological museum, we were a bit puzzled by the dates. We use BC to represent the years Before Christ and AD for Anno Domini (Latin for the year of our Lord) representing the years After Christ. In Spain AC is used rather than BC, which we eventually worked out meant Antes de Cristo, and DC is used instead of AD, meaning Despúes de Cristo. Confused? Yes, so were we!
I don’t want to send everybody to sleep, so I think that is enough for your first history lesson. The next history lesson will be about the wine industry in Jumilla: just for a taster I will mention the fact that the first vines here were grown by the Romans, which as you know was a long time ago.