Palma del Río is a medieval city which is placed by the connection of the biggest rivers in Andalusia, the Guadalquivir and Genil Rivers. However, we know that this wonderful town has been populated from the beginning of Prehistory, keeping its population until our days.
We have important examples of the lower and middle Paleolithic eras but also Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age, especially in the Tartessian and Orientalizing period. A lot of archaeological sites dated from this period have been found in our town. Some of them have been investigated by archaeologists.
This town, thanks to its geographical location next to Baetis and Singilis in the heart of the first roman province, adopted the roman lifestyle keeping its perpective of a rural town mainly related to the production of olive oil. A lot of roman ceramics have been found throughout the banks of the rivers. It reflects a great dynamic in the production and the trade of this product.
The archaelogical site placed in Saetilla farm, after some epigraphic studies, has been identified with the roman town, Plinio el Viejo named as Segida Augurina, which is one of the most important towns in the roman period together with Celti (Peñaflor), Detumo (near Posadas) Segovia(near Écija), Obulaula (next to Fuentes de Andalucía) and Oducia (near Lora del Río).
The first time that Palma del Rio was mentioned was around 798-799 in the context of the War of the Spanish Succession by the Omeya throne. It also appears in 855 in San Eulogio de Cordoba’s quote. In 1173 Ibn Sahib al-sala tells the incursion of militias of Avila, and he named this town as Balma. It is characterized by its Almohade walls built in the middle of 12th century, and its perfect location in bordering lands.
This wonderful place was conquered by the Christian troops governed by the Spanish king Fernando III in 1241. In 1313, the General Brotherhood of Andalusia met in the Villa of Palma del Río.
This population was composed of Christians, Muslims and Jews and it became a feudal estate in 1342 after King Alfonso XI’s donation to Micer Egidio Bocanegra. Egidio brought to Palma, Mudejares from Gumiel (Burgos). Ambrosio Bocanegra came to Castilla with a fleet support of King XI of Castilla. He commanded the Castilian – French forces in their defeat of the English at the Battle of La Rochelle in 1372. During the 15th Santo Domingo Convent, Hospitals of la Caridad, Cuerpo de Dios, San Bartolomé, La Coronada and San Sebastian and therefore Hermitage of Belen were founded. The King II of Castilla gave to VI Lord of Palma, Martín Fernandez Portocarrero, a street market (Mercado franco), a Fair celebrated annually since 15th August. Luis Portocarrero VII Lord of Palma took part in the Granada War which is clearly the beginning of an important economic and social rising in the town between different communities Christians, Muslims and Jews.
The 16th century and the beginning of 17 th century is considered one of the most splendid period reflected in its architectural constructions. In 1507, the feudal estate of Palma del Rio became a County. Luis Portocarrero was awarded the title of the First Count of Palma on the orders of Queen Juana de Castilla. The Alcazar fell into desuse and a significant palace, known as Portocarrero’s Palace was built as a residence for the counts. Its façade is placed in the surrounding of Plaza Mayor.
In 1508 the Hospital of San Sebastian and other medieval hospitals were founded under Pope Julio’s II bull. Santa Clara Convent was founded under Pope Alejandro’s VI bull in 1498 and eventually San Francisco Convent was founded in 1518 under Pope Leon’s X bull.
Recently, a Canadian researcher, Wendy Kramer, has shown that Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (14197-1573), Conquer of Mexico and Guatemala and explorer of California, was born in the village of Palma, like other palmeños who took place in the conquest and the Catholic evangelization of America.
Other religions buildings were built in the 17th century as San Francisco Church, Hermitage of El Buen Suceso and Belen. At the end of 17th century and the 18th century there was an important demographic crisis but it was not seen as a problem to build the most significant religious building of Palma del Rio, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion Church. It was built in the place in which there was formerly a Medieval Church, Santa Maria. At the beginning of 18th century, Luis Manuel Fernandez-Portocarrero y Guzman (1635-1709) a Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo and Regent of Spain after the death of king Charles II who instaured the Bourbon Dinasty in Spain.
In the 19th century there was a triumph of the bourgeoisie and the local lord owner, who supported the Liberal and Conservative Parties. The ecclesiastical confiscation of Mendizabal affected San Francisco and Santo Domingo Convent of the Village of Palma del Rio which were anctioned to aristocracy local family. In 1857, the railway line Cordoba-Seville was active. The railway was inaugurated by Queen Isabel II in October 1862. At the same time, the Wooden Bridge, which was designed by Darget brothers, was open. In 1867, this bridge was destroyed by a flood and the Iron Bridge, designed by Cail one of the participant of the Eiffel Tower, had to be open. In 1888 the Queen Mª Cristina gives the title of “Town” to Palma del Rio.
During the beginning of 20th century a lot of places were built as the new cemetery, Parque School, the Market of Abastos, the irrigation canal of the Genil River and the construction of a new road connecting Palma del Río to La Campana.
After the victory of Frente Popular in February, 1936, there were several struggles due to the political climate and timing surrounding it. Finally it was followed by the Civil War and eventually Franco’s dictatorship from 1936 to 1975.
During the 60s Palma suffered and increasingly demographic growth, followed by a recession and significant emigration to Europe and Cataluña.
Currently, Palma del Río has around 21000 people whose economy is based on farming, agribusiness and other services. The municipal democracy has led and economic and political stability getting a significant growth with a developed and extensive infrastructure system like: Matachel and El Garrotal bussines parks, the sport centre “El Pandero”, the cultural facilities in the House of Culture, the Coliseo Theatre, the young space, several museums, the Recovery of Historical and Artistic Heritage and the new road with the new bridge above the Guadalquivir River.