Rus is a village in Andalusia that knows a thing or two about fighting the plague – quite handy in today’s world! First things first though, and you might have guessed that the only reason we visited was so I could have my photo taken with some of the town’s signs!!
Now, back to the plague. On the Paseo del Emigrante there is a curious sculpture explaining what happened and how it is commemorated in the Fuesta de los Mozos. This is celebrated on the penultimate Sunday of September and its origin dates back to the terrible epidemics that devastated the region between the years 1678 and 1693. One of them, the bubonic plague, affected the young men of the village. 25 of them died and panic spread so it was decided to take out the Blessed Sacrament in a prayer procession. Soon afterwards the epidemic subsided and the people of that time attributed it to that procession. The young men who survived and the rest of the population decided to commemorate this event by taking out the Blessed Sacrament in procession on the third Sunday in September and then celebrating three days of “masks” in which they would dress up to show their joy. These days of masks have become a true summer carnival in which imagination, mockery, irony and criticism are unleashed. Perhaps such masks are what we require now!!
Wandering around the village itself doesn’t present too much of interest, although it is a very pleasant place. On the aforementioned paseo there are a series of what look like Roman column capitals onto which have been etched bizarre faces. There are some really nice tiles adorning the walls, and a very interesting fountain. The town hall is guarded by a couple of stone lions and nearby there are a couple of benches in the shape of lizards.
Hiding up a sidestreet there is an old watch tower left over from Moorish days. It’s used as a cultural centre today. Two other towers used to stand nearby but whatever happened to them is lost in the mists of time.
The countryside surrounding Rus is full of footpaths where you can go looking for snails! The so-called Caracoles de Rus are nothing to do with shelled gastropods though. No, they are circular buildings made from stone which were constructed over the last century. The stones were found in the soil when farmers ploughed the land and these curious buildings were probably just shelters made from them. They were awarded Intangible Cultural Heritage status thus ensuring their protection.
Also of some pride for the residents of Rus is the cave oratory of Valdecanales. Located some miles out of town, it is a rock temple dating back to Visigoth times. This was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest back in 1970.
As you can see,even the small villages in Spain usually have an interesting story or two to tell. Why not share your hidden gems with us in the comments below?