Sierra Morena - in History and Literature

In History and Literature

The ranges of Sierra Morena have valuable deposits of lead, silver, mercury, and other metals, some of which have been exploited since prehistoric times. The ancient Iberians used the mountain passes as a passage between the high plateau in the north and the Guadalquivir basin.

The bleak Sierra Morena mountains were also notorious in former times for being a haunt of bandits and highwaymen. The Nuevas Poblaciones de AndalucĂ­a y Sierra Morena administrative division was started in 1767 during the reign of Charles III of Spain in order to populate the mountainous zone. As a consequence the area around La Carolina was settled with farmers that included German, Swiss and Flemish families. One of the goals of the project was to have safe stopover points for carriages in the desolate region.

The Sierra Morena is mentioned in the Don Quixote novel, wherein Sancho Panza suggests it to be a refuge from the Holy Brotherhood after Don Quixote frees a group of galley slaves. In Voltaire's satire Candide, the main characters stop there on their escape from Lisbon (chapter 9-10).

Nikolay Karamzin's 1793 prose "Sierra-Morena", where the Russian writer tells of a love story between the author and young Elvira, is also dedicated to the mountain range. The forbidding landscape of Sierra Morena was also the setting for the majority of the eerie and supernatural goings-on in Jan Potocki's "The Manuscript Found in Saragossa" written in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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