What is a cortijo?
A cortijo is a type of traditional rural structure typical of southern Spain. They are most commonly found in places such as Andalusia, Extremadura and Castile-La Mancha. Cortijos are thought to have originated from the Roman villages that could be found across the Iberian Peninsula, since their layout and functionality strongly recall the legacy left by Rome with its many villas.
What was the purpose of a cortijo?
Cortijos are usually large homesteads standing in the centre of extensive farms and livestock holdings. Their initial purpose was to provide accommodation for the people who supervised and worked the land and to keep tools or store personal belongings, such as harvesting implements and goods made from animal products. On some occasions they even had their own church. The different farming activities included sowing, working the field, mowing and harvesting, threshing and grain storage, among others.
How were they built?
The materials used to build cortijos were usually cement and brick. Stone was less common. The farm buildings included the threshing floor, barn, loft, tinao (cowshed), stable, the characteristic central patio around which the various quarters of the house were arranged, and the different buildings for the labourers, in addition to the home of the property owner.
The beauty and uniqueness of a cortijo is derived not only from one of its core features, as it is a self-sufficient property, but also the bucolic space created by the surrounding landscape, usually made up of olive groves, vineyards and cereal crops.
Few cortijos have the same purpose today as they originally did. Life in the countryside has given way to city living and rural areas have gradually been emptying out. The industrialisation and mechanisation of the countryside has facilitated this process and sped it up.
Cortijos are now a place of farming production and the homesteads have been turned into rural retreats for city folk to escape the big smoke. The dizzying pace of our lives today and consequent associated stress have a big impact on people’s health.
The benefits of being in the countryside
In response to this, people are turning to places that provide an ambiance to wind down in and remember the simple things in life. The tourism industry, meanwhile, has begun to develop opportunities to get away from it all. There is a dedicated tourist offering for health and wellbeing and places that can provide a physical and emotional disconnect from the focus of stress. Operators promote idyllic spaces like the countryside or remote beaches and property stays that pivot from the classic business hotel. According to studies such as the one conducted by the UK Statistical Digest of Rural England 2012, people living in rural areas had a slightly higher life expectancy than those in large cities, due to better environmental conditions positively impacting their quality of life and thus their health.
But pollution, noise and the stress of a hectic life are not the only things that can affect us for the worse. There is also the visual stress in cities from being surrounded by concrete rather than landscapes and green areas. Another study, from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and conducted over eight years, found that people living in a natural setting were 13 percent less likely to develop cancer and 34 percent less likely to suffer from respiratory diseases. In other words, something we intuitively know has several scientific studies that can support it.
Best rural cortijo: LA Organic
For all the above, there are places like Cortijo LA Organic. An idyllic country homestead set in the highlands around Ronda, far from noise and pollution. LA Organic offers the people who choose to stay in one of its luxury rooms a relaxation experience engaging with nature, where they can wind down and enjoy organic produce straight from the garden.
Cortijo LA Organic stands on the outskirts of Ronda (Malaga province) on a stunning hillside overlooking the Grazalema mountain range.
As a building it is very special, since it retains its traditional architecture but has been refurbished by the team of renowned designer and architect Philippe Starck, whose works are recognised the world over. Art is present in every detail of the interior and cannot fail to impress anyone who wants to enjoy the experience of staying there.
The surrounding area is also a treat. Wake up to views over a field of olive trees and an organic vineyard in all their splendour. Tours of the grove and vineyard are just one of the activities on offer, where you can discover the world of olive oil along a special itinerary offered by LA Organic Experience. Book by clicking the link below:
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