Santo Tomé

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Santo Tomé

The origin of the current town of Santo Tomé was the former castle’s keep, all that remains of the 14th century fortification that the archbishop of Toledo, who governed these lands, had built to defend them. The tower was converted into the belfry of the parish church of Santo Tomás Apóstol. The history of Santo Tomé goes much further back in time, however.


It is hard to imagine that during the Second Punic War this peaceful spot was a battlefield where thousands of Romans and Carthaginians clashed in the year 208 of the Common Era. The former defeated the latter on the Cerro de las Albahacas hill, on the outskirts of the town, in the third century before the Common Era.

Hasdrupal Barca, the Carthaginian general, was spending the winter with his troops in Baecula, in the headwaters of the Betis (Guadalquivir river), in the territory of his local allies, the Iberians. Aware of his position, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, who had been campaigning against the Carthaginians in southern Hispania for years, set out to attack him with the intention of destroying that part of the enemy’s army. When Hasdrupal learned that the Romans were coming, he moved his camp to the Cerro de las Albahacas hill (altitude, 674 m) – the mountain you can see right in front of you – where he entrenched his troops. The mountain is flanked by two rivers that serve as a natural defence: the Vega river on the north side, where you are now, and the Guadalquivir on the south side. Scipio surrounded the hill and gained the position, but the Carthaginians, led by Hasdrupal, managed to save most of their troops and escaped, avoiding persecution by the Roman legions.

Santo Tomé’s municipal district is divided between the mountain and the banks of the Vega and Guadalquivir rivers. Irrigation from the rivers assures good garden produce, supplementing the olive groves that are the main activity not only of the town, but of the entire region.



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