Origins: Pre and Protohistory
The history of Ecija is as broad as its artistic wealth. The founding of the city is located from the eighth century BC, in the field of the Lakshmi civilization.
Until the Roman Conquest, about 200 BC, it was probably a small settlement of Turdetani huts, located in the slight rise beside the Genil River now known as Cerro del Alcazar or San Gil.
Splendor during the Roman Empire
The city experienced its greatest period of splendor during the Roman rule, for Caesar was involved in the civil war against Pompey, and by the year 14 BC was founded on the plain called "Colonia Augusta Firma Astigi”, a large new town, with paved streets laid out in regular grid, sewer and water distribution network, forum, temples, baths and amphitheater next to a bridge that crossed the Via Augusta Genil. Since then it was the capital of a very extensive legal convent, one of four in which they divided the “Betica”, comprising not less than 49 cities and covering much of the current provinces of Cordoba, Granada and Jaen. Its main feature was derived from the cultivation and export of olive oil over long distances, using the waterway by the Guadalquivir and Genil and then to the sea from Seville.
After Rome. Écija in Al-Andalus
The city remained an important cultural and religious focus after the fall of the Roman Empire, during the Visigoth period, when it became the seat of a bishopric, and in the Islamic period, when Istiya (or Astiŷa) was a provincial capital in the emirate and the caliphate. The Arab chroniclers stress the fertility and richness of its territory, which derived in an important Berber settlement. The Muslims introduced and irrigated crops, including cotton whose characteristic development in Ecija led to coining the nickname of Madinat al-qutn ( "City of cotton").
Late Middle Ages and Modern Times: Écija in the Crown of Castilla
In May 1240 it was conquered by Ferdinand III and was divided between new settlers and Spaniards, including many nobles, military orders and churches. The development of large land ownership became the basis to the town’s history until modern times.
Baroque Écija: Ecija’s Golden Century
During the entire eighteenth century, considered "Ecija’s Golden Century" many civil and churches buildings were built, linked to the concentration of ownership and power, ecclesiastical and aristocratic, making at this time 40 nobility titles to settle in the city, including 13 grandees of Spain. The old town of Ecija retains one of the best legacies of Baroque Art and architecture of Andalusia and probably throughout the Iberian Peninsula: palaces, churches (with the towers that have made the city famous), convents, public buildings and palaces, that constitute a unique historical heritage.
In 1402 Henry III restored to Ecija the title of "city". The royal favors continued: Charles I added the title of "very fair" to "very noble". Philip V gives the appointment of "constant, loyal and faithful" in 1710.
Pampered by royalty, Alfonso XII in 1880 gives the City the title "Most Excellent". Even in the twentieth century, Ecija gets a new title in 1966, much or more deserved than the previous: "Historic-Artistic Site”.