Human influence and activity
The Sierra Subbética encompasses the following municipalities, all of which are in the province of Cordoba: Cabra, Carcabuey, Doña Mencía, Iznájar, Priego de Córdoba, Rute, Luque and Zuheros. These highly attractive towns and villages are steeped in local traditions and customs. Other ancient settlements contain remnants of past human activity: idols from the Bronze Age, Iberian statues, Roman remains (including the mile post considered as the first road sign in the world), as well as Arabic pottery.
Many of the galleries or underground caves within the Natural Park have also either been inhabited or housed human remains. Of particular note is the Cueva de los Murciélagos, first discovered in 1897 but unexplored until 1937. It is made up of several caverns containing beautiful stalactites and stalagmites typical of karstic underground formations. Its true importance however is less to do with geology, and more to do with the wall paintings and archeological remnants dating back to the Neolithic.
In less ancient times, the first settlements in the area can be traced back to the Romans: Cabra (Igabro), Carcabuey (Alcobita) and Iznájar (Angeles or Soricaria). During the Muslim period, these same villages are consolidated, at the same time as the appearance of others such as Zuheros, with its labyrinth of narrow white streets, Priego de Córdoba y Luque, which following the re-conquest are surrounded by Castilian Spanish style defensive walls, and whose transformation is completed with Baroque style church decoration.
Historically, the local economy was based on agriculture and animal pasture: more recently, a high proportion of the total land surface is now used for small game private hunting. The most important agricultural harvest is that of the eating olive, since the flat terrain required for cereals such as corn and wheat is scarce. The almond is the only industrially cultivated fruit tree, whose demand has increased due to the elaboration of Christmas products in the area.
The breeding of grazing animals has been and is still one of the most important industries within the Natural Park. This activity has been carried out on an extensive basis, making the most of meadow and forested areas, plus olive tree pruning activities. Goats are the most commonly found animal: in addition to meat consumption, their milk is used for the making of local cheese. Sheep are also bred, both for their lamb as well as their wool.