The ancient Iberian-Roman city of Cástulo, situated 5 km away from Linares on the right bank of the River Guadalimar, was during the Antiquity one of the most important cities in the Iberian Peninsula, thanks to its strategic location and its lead and silver mines.
The earliest evidences found in the site are dated from the Prehistory. Cástulo had been exploiting its mining resources since the first millennium BC; and the consequent wealth attracted Tartessos, Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs. In the area they have been found archaeological remains of all of these civilisations.
Its strategic location and wealth, both mining and agricultural, turned Cástulo into the most important city in the Oretani. For that reason, Romans and Carthaginians were always disputing their control over it. Therefore, the Carthaginian general Hannibal married princess Himilce –who was born in Cástulo– in order to take control over the main mining locations. However, this resulted unsuccessful since the Carthaginians were finally defeated.
Romans granted this city all kind of privileges –as for example minting its own coin–, turning Cástulo into a great metropolis with major infrastructures as Thermae, cisterns and even a forum and an amphitheatre.
The wealth of Cástulo was such that even the great chroniclers Strabo, Polybius, Pliny the Elder and Livy wrote about the city.
Nevertheless, its splendour started to decrease. The mining exploitation that used to provide Cástulo with importance started to weaken with the fall of the Roman Empire by the 3rd century AD. Moreover, during the Visigoth period, the Episcopal See was moved from Cástulo to Baeza (Beatia) and during the Muslim period, several fights took place in the city, which caused a huge damage.
In 1350, Fernando IV assigned Cástulo to the district of Linares, and the ancient city has belonged to the latter ever since.
Currently, the Iberian-Roman city of Cástulo has the category of Archaeological Site. Likewise, it has a museum –the Archaeological Museum of Linares– devoted to the preservation and spreading of its historical past. It is located in the Dávalos Biedma Palace.
Origin: 1595. From Village to Borough
The origin of Linares is not very clear because there are not enough documented materials and archaeological studies which can offer significant data. The proximity of the enclave to important communication routes, together with its rich mining, waters and farming resources, made possible the creation of a settlement in the area in the late Roman period, which over the time became a village (8th century).
One of the urban emblems of the origin of the city is the castle, built around the 11th century.
The first written evidence about the existence of Linares dates from 1155, the year in which Alfonso VII conquered the area and gave it to Suero Díaz. Some years later, in 1227, Fernando III definitely conquered the enclave, after the Almohade monarch Aben-Mahomad surrendered. After the political change, Linares was under the crown’s control as part of the city of Baeza and it gained some royal privileges.
This new situation provoked mistrust among the people from Linares and from the 15th century on, an active confrontation to gain the independence arose.
In 1495 the Catholic Monarchs announced a law which allowed Linares to choose two mayors for the association.
In 1520, being Carlos V the king, Linares asked for the independence for the first time, followed by a second one in 1537. However, they will have to wait until the reign of Felipe II who, the 17th of August of 1565, through an order, gave Linares the independence from Baeza, thus becoming an independent borough with its own juristic institution.
1595-1875. From Borough to City
With the autonomy granted when being given the title of borough and the bylaw signed by Felipe II in 1578, a new age began in Linares. During the 18th century the town lived a great growth when a reform of the Treasury gave the Crown total control over the exploitation of mines. Thanks to that and to the introduction of new systems that increased productivity, the sector experienced a great development, which turned Linares into a strategic city for the country. A proof of that is the House of Ammunition of Linares (1756).
Some decades before, in 1691, the opening of the House of Mint –whose main purpose was to mint cupper coins–, anticipated the potential of the area.
These measures, together with the agricultural reforms and the economic protectionism, made it possible for Linares to get to the second half of the century in a process of economic and demographic growth that duplicated the population in only four decades.
However, not every measure was positive for the town. During the reign of Carlos III, the district of Linares that used to be the biggest in the province ended up being the smallest. That brought negative consequences to the economy of the borough, which was still based on the farming sector.
As the 19th century progressed, the mining exploitation was deficient but the lead wealth of the enclave motivated the rising of foreign capital income since 1847.
New mining laws (1849 and 1859) were created to defeat precariousness. These laws ended with the contract system and allowed the State to take on the direct exploitation of Arrayanes and adopt the necessary technology to optimize the production and the growth of the sector.
The economic, social and urban changes caused by the mining development motivated a deep transformation in the borough, which was granted the title of City by Alfonso XII in 1875.
The Golden Age of the Mines
The economy of Linares reached a great development during the second half of the 19th century due to the blossoming of its mining and metallurgic industry, which turned the municipality in one of the most important cities in the world.
The juridical changes ?caused by the liberal bourgeoisie?, the technological innovation of the stream engine ?which revolutionised the productivity in the mining exploitations?, the bank and the development of transport were the changes that took place in the city. The arrival of the railway (1865) and the tram (1904) made possible the connection of the city to the main urban areas and mining work centres. In fact, Linares had 5 railway stations as well as several stopping places in the routes of the mines (el trenillo de las minas).
The important movements of the capital made possible the opening of the Chamber of Commerce (1886) and the first branch in Spain of the Spanish Bank of Credit (1908) as well as the installation of some advances such as the public illumination, the telephone, the sewer system and the water supply.
The foreign companies, which were in charge of the industries, implied the arrival of families of different nationalities and the installation of the British, Belgian, French and German vice-consulates in the city. Linares was then a cosmopolitan place where native and foreign traditions lived together.
During this period, Linares was an open-minded city, where there were numerous news publications concerning the different cultures of that time, and where recreational and cultural centres, casinos and cafés with entertainment appeared.
Industrialisation provoked a great demographic growth, which multiplied in three times the existing population between 1860 and 1877. This growth in population ?due to the opening of new mining exploitations? inundated the infrastructures of the city. This fact provoked important social problems ?such as the lack of housing, the awful welfare and the lack of sanitation?, which tried to be mitigated with new urban plans.
The social awareness of that era in Linares and the politic liberalism of the period were an ideal setting for the appearance of the first working class associations. Thus, in 1870 the First International Association of Workers appeared. However, this promising beginning started to languish.
The 20th Century Restructuring
During the first third of the 20th century a decadence process in the mines of Linares began due to the impoverishment of their lodes. This circumstance, together with the fluctuation of the lead prices and the scarce business investment in technological advances –only interested in optimizing short-term profits–, motivated the closing down of several mining deposits.
These were hard years for the sector, except for some occasional moments like the First World War. Thus, the crisis was worse every time and it affected every layer in society. It was then when people started to be aware of the need to make a change in productivity.
In the middle of that decadence, in 1950, the construction of a draining gallery was started to make the exploitation more profitable as well as enable the prospection of new lodes. Once it was finished, few shafts were able to use it because of their dying situation. Even though the existence of abundant and rich lodes was revealed, they weren’t exploited. So when the company “Cía Minas de la Cruz” closed down in 1991, the sector reached its permanent end.
In 1955, the “Plan Jaén” promoted a new industrial model in the city that favoured the creation of the car industry “Metalurgia Santa Ana” (Santana Motor).
Santana evolved and became the Parque Empresarial Santana. Their activity was reorientated after they allied with other companies and built their R&D facilities. Another two important industrial estates, Los Jarales and Los Rubiales, complete the rich industrial network of the area, whose adaptation ability proves the maturity of the economy in the area.
Linares is today a centre for trading in the province of Jaén. Its small and medium businesses form the City Centre Shopping Area, which together with the big shopping centres have allowed the fast development of the trade sector and whose success was recognised by the National Trade Award in 2004.
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- El Pósito
- Raphael Museum
- Crypt and Chapel of the Marquises of Linares’ Hospital