Moron de la Frontera – the little USA in the heart of Andalucia

Only 12km. from my Bed and Breakfast lies a very interesting little town which is certainly worth passing through on your way to Ronda, Cadiz or any of the more well known tourist venues. The shops are good, there are lovely coffee shops and bars and plenty of historic sites.

This whitewashed hilltop town rises above the rolling patchwork plain of La Campiña like a mirage. This was once an important centre of a Moorish taifa (state). It is dominated by its ruined Medieval castle, with several impressive churches dotted around its narrow pretty streets.

On the border of Cadiz and Seville provinces, Morón de la Frontera was in an important defensive position and its castle was one of the most important in the area. Later it became home to the nobility, when the duchy of Osuna made it a residence and adorned it with marble fittings and artesanado coffered ceilings. The castle was almost destroyed by the French in 1812. Visit the nearby Paseo del Gallo, a small square with great views over the town.

Declared a site of cultural interest, the Iglesia (church) de San Miguel has an ornate Baroque portal designed by Diego Antonio Díaz and a 17th-century bell tower, built on the site of a Moorish minaret, modelled along the lines of Seville cathedral’s Giralda. San Ignacio church dates from the early 18th century and has an impressive Baroque portal, carved from sandstone. Inside is a collection of large oil religious paintings by the Flemish painter Peter van Lint.

This is one of the sculptures on a traffic island in the town. There are a few of these whimsical structures so look out for them.

The American influence comes from the placement on the outskirts of town of the largest American USAF base in Europe. Once in a while a fighter jet used to pass my place overhead but they must have changed the path as I no longer see them. Shame. I quite liked to see these amazing planes hitting the sound barrier and gone in a flash. Morón’s massive flight line, in-ground aircraft refuelling system, long runway and prime location on the Iberian peninsuls close to the Mediterranean and the Middle East means the base is a vital link in any operation moving east from the USA.

In 1984, Morón became a NASA Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site in support of the space shuttle program. Special navigation and landing aids are in place, and personnel are highly trained to recover landing of the orbiter vehicle. In addition, launch periods during the 1980s saw U.S. Air Force personnel deployed to Morón to provide on-site weather support, coordinating efforts with local Spanish weather personnel. My online weather forecast comes from there and is very reliable.

Visit the town in July when its annual flamenco festival is in full swing, one of the best known of its kind and known as Gazpacho Andaluz. Established in 1963, it features flamenco baile (dance) and cante (song) and serves gazpacho, the typical Andalucian chilled tomato soup. For those who think chilled soup is ‘yuk’ don’t knock it until you try it. Think of it more as liquidised salad! Very refreshing on a boiling hot Andalucian day.