Ecomuseum of the Caicena River


Ecomuseum of the Caicena River

Case Study Contents

1. Ecomuseum Data

Ecomuseum Name

Ecomuseum of the Caicena River

Date of Creation



Ayuntamiento-Pza. Constitución, s/n Almedinilla 14812 (Córdoba)


+34 957 702021

1.1. Description of the Ecomuseum

The Ecomuseum of the Caicena River is a municipal development project, of a territorial nature, which aims to research, conserve, disseminate and train in the heritage of the town of Almedinilla (Cordoba) considered in a broad and interdisciplinary way (historical, natural, ethnological and human heritage) and which is conceived as an instrument for citizen participation and reflection on the present from the knowledge of the past.

The backbone of the Ecomuseum is, however, the historical heritage, as a reflection of that shared past that explains to a large extent our present and partly conditions our future, the future of a small town of 2,500 inhabitants immersed in the natural environment of the Sierras Subbéticas Cordobesas and in a rural world in transformation, dependent and threatened.

The river Caicena explains to the inhabitant and the visitor what it encountered and finds in its course: the riverside forest formed by the river itself and its landscapes of waterfalls and traditional vegetable gardens, the Sierra de Albayate (Serrano Complex of Environmental Interest), the industries that moved its power (flour and oil mills), the urban planning of the mountains, or the archaeological sites that rise at its feet.

The Ecomuseum is made up of a series of museum nuclei: Aula del Campesinado, Aula del Caicena and Environmental Education Tour, Mill and Cereal Room, Reception and Temporary Exhibition Centre, Conference and Workshop Room, Specialised Library and Accommodation for Researchers, Restoration Workshop and Warehouse, visitable archaeological sites such as the Iberian settlement of Cerro de la Cruz and the Roman villa of El Ruedo, Hiking Routes… and the Historical Museum, the main building of the Ecomuseum from where you start to recognise the territory.

1.2. Members of the Ecomuseum

Name of the person in charge
+34 671 948168
Number of ecomuseum team members


Qualification/training of team members

1 archaeologist, 1 archaeology-restoration technician, 1 cultural dynamiser, 2 tourist guides, 1 administrative officer


In terms of innovation, the situations experienced by the Ecomuseum have led the institution to undertake innovative actions with regard to participatory processes. The ecomuseum understands participation as a main tool for innovation: innovative action is born from participation. In relation to new processes, services and actions, the ecomuseum implements an active participatory vision that represents an innovation compared to previous and traditional models, also participating in national and international research and dissemination projects, as well as European projects such as Ecoheritage.
To this end, it is essential to explain the processes of research development, in order to involve the local population, including technical aspects such as cataloguing and inventory methodologies and systems, using historical recreation techniques and developing a lively form of heritage interpretation. Training in all these fields is for us a commitment even though the pandemic has affected social and cultural institutions such as ecomuseums. The scope and aim is to improve the possibilities of adaptation and resources in the field of innovation that the ecomuseum must develop in order to improve the work with the community and with other agents such as public administrations, private companies and other institutions, specialists, technicians and all citizens.

Some Examples of Training offered by the Ecomuseum

Musical archaeologyStudy and research of the musical traditions of the area.X
BioconstructionWorkshops for bioclimatic constructionsXX
Forensic anthropologyLinked to the archaeological efforts are workshops on the reconstruction of ancient settlements.XX
Heritage conservationWorkshop that highlights the value of the recovery of cultural heritageXX
Cultural revitalisationDifferent workshops of different types that try to breathe life into the rural areas within the Museum's scope of actionXX
Historical re-enactmentWorkshops for the staging of cultural, heritage and landscape heritage.X
Bird tracks and tracesDifferent birdwatching workshopsX

Some Examples of Training Needs Identified

Methodologies and systems of cataloging and inventoryLearning bibliographic and archival methodsVirtualX
Historical re-enactment techniquesEmpathetic and entertaining heritage exposure learningOn-siteX
Heritage interpretationSpecialisation workshops on the different facets of heritage and its interpretation.On-siteX
Hackcamp: cultural heritage, inland tourism and sustainabilityWorkshops on sustainable tourism didacticsOn-siteX
Collaborative network to support local heritageSocial and cultural revitalisation workshopsVirtualX

3. Funding and Resources

Type of entity
Municipal museum
Official status
Municipal Museum
Annual budget
100.000€ (the whole Ecomuseum) Historical Museum (20.000€)

The project is a municipal project and up to 10% of the municipal budget is invested in it. The public company Somnus was created to manage it. In addition to this, and for specific actions, a multitude of projects were drawn up and participation in others promoted by the Town Council (LEADER, PRODER, Casa de Oficios, Regional Workshop School…), with the work carried out by the Ecomuseum in relation to the Town Planning Subsidiary Rules of the municipality to protect the traditional agricultural landscape of the orchards, the mountain landscape in conjunction with the street plan and a series of buildings and urban environments being decisive.

Currently the Ecomuseum of the Caicena River is part of the Network of Cultural Spaces of Andalusia (RECA), Network of Ethnological Interpretation Centres (CIE), Route of Roman Andalusia (RUBERO), Network of Roman Villas of Hispania, Association of Local Museums of the Province of Cordoba, Journey to the time of the Iberians, Treasures of Southern Cordoba… The Ecomuseum has received the following awards: Expobética Award 1999; CIT Subbética Award, 2000; Juan Bernier Award, 2000; Best Innovative Tourist Product Award, 2004; Finalists in the I Progress Awards for the Development of the Villages of Andalusia, 2004; Award to the Work Camps of Almedinilla for the XXV Day of Andalusia, 2005 ; Culture Award of the Association of Municipalities of Subbética Cordobesa, 2007; Hasdai Ibn Shaprut Awards for Communication, 2016 to the Ibero-Roman Conference FESTUM.

4. Social and Community Participation

The Ecomuseum came about after the work of cataloguing resources, diagnosis and objectives carried out by local associations (Maquica, Waska). The Town Council then took on the project. Since then, these and other local associations have been involved in the project. It also collaborates with many other local and regional associations, including the Association of Local Museums of Cordoba and the association Centro de Estudios Bastetanos (which has lent its specialised library to the Ecomuseum).

Through the AMICITIA card, the Ecomuseum builds up a network of friends which results in special prices and activities.

4.1. Local Population

Number of inhabitants of the territory/locality where the ecomuseum is located
Number of members of the local population involved in the ecomuseum

Ways of participation

Participation is carried out through meetings and assemblies where annual activities and actions are planned in a participatory manner. In particular, participation is more direct in specific activities such as the FESTUM Ibero-Roman Conference, which lasts 10 days and is held every year.

4.2. Social milieu

Number of visitors from the territory/locality where the ecomuseum is located
Number of foreign visitors

Forms of involvement

Visitors collaborate through proposals such as AMICITIA, a friends’ card that facilitates contacts. They also participate in courses and workshops organised by the Ecomuseum.

4.3. Website analisis

Type of intervention made possible by the website

Only information Chance to suggest actions Complaints or Compliments Purchase of tickets Open access or under registration
Open access

Kinds of suggestions available

Proposing museum objectives On funding issues About museum planning On accessibility

Quality of Feedback

Receipt message is sent The proposal is discussed at the museum management level Results of the discussion are sent

Both the Ecomuseum website and the Almedinilla Tourism website need improvement; as we understand that there is also a need to create a real and wider digital network to help support local Heritage, connecting both (both the network and local Heritage) with other experiences (national and international) also in the field of Cultural and Natural Heritage.

5. Innovation and Research

The Ecomuseum of the Caicena River in Almedinilla is a project whose museological action is framed in the context of the loss of importance of the rural world, its economy, population and ways of life, and where cultural mimicry towards urban values causes a gradual and constant deterioration of its own. The natural environment of the Sierra de Albayate and the rest of the municipality was left outside the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park and is therefore even more subject to environmental aggression on three main fronts: monoculture agriculture (with the loss of biodiversity), severe erosion and the illegal abstraction of groundwater.

The economy of Almedinilla revolves around the monoculture of olive groves (a crop which has been dominant in the area since 1950 as opposed to cereals, orchards and woodland), with small and medium-sized farmers, the vast majority of whom work their own land, and with some family-run orchards and livestock (pigs and sheep). There are olive processing industries (6 oil mills, one of which is a cooperative), but there is insufficient direct marketing of the oil (between 30-40% of production), with an economy geared to achieving maximum production with the consequent loss of the traditional relationship between the farmer and the land (although with the growing presence of organic crops) and dependence on the European Union’s Community Agricultural Policy. However, the town’s shaky economic reality has been cushioned in the last decade by the improvement in communications, greater services in the municipality, the slowdown in emigration, better training among young people, and other aspects such as the promotion of quality olive oils (following the creation of the Regulatory Council of the Priego Designation of Origin) and the creation of the Los Bermejales industrial estate (which concentrates and organises the town’s industries: furniture, clothing, food packaging, sausages, industrial flooring…).

On the other hand, the historical heritage of Almedinilla offers a set of traditional architectural elements ranging from the industries of oil mills and flour mills to the hydraulic irrigation systems of the orchards, passing through a mountain town planning and a set of traditional agricultural landscapes. Within the historical heritage, the archaeological legacy of Almedinilla has a unique richness, a richness that has been the driving force behind the rest of the Ecomuseum project, in its conception of heritage in a broad and dynamic way.

The Ecomuseum of the Caicena River has been working for 27 years on the cataloguing, research, conservation, enhancement and dissemination of its rich historical and environmental heritage from a territorial and participatory conception that has the population of Almedinilla as an active agent and the creation of collaborative networks as an instrument, joining hands with citizen initiatives, the administration and private enterprise.

All of this with the ultimate aim of developing a model that goes beyond formal changes and proposes an in-depth discussion that moves away from merely adaptive museological proposals.

In short, we demand the municipal management of the heritage of a specific territory, with the direct participation of the residents, the involvement of private initiative and within the framework of the so-called New Museology, which prevents many of these municipal museums from remaining stagnant and anchored in a traditional museology that is not very didactic, with minimal budgets, without contracted personnel, without professional management, without research activities, without even stable opening hours.

6. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Number of SDGs that the ecomuseum is working on
Ignacio Muñiz Jaén

SDG-related projects/actions

Zurreon PlanImprovement of the river bed6, 11, 13, 15Site preparation
Energy efficiencySolar panels and olive residue pellet cookers6, 7, 11, 13, 15Energy saving
Organic olive groveCourses and workshops1, 2, 3, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17More and more landowners are turning to organic farming
Valorisation of archaeological sitesRestoration and conditioning of the Roman villa of El Ruedo and the Iberian settlement of Cerro de la Cruz.4, 8, 11, 15Quality cultural tourism

The Ecomuseum participated in European LEADER and PRODER programmes, as well as in other regional and national calls for proposals, which have sustainable development as a cross-cutting theme.

The main objectives focus on economic diversification and the promotion of historical and natural heritage through research, conservation and dissemination.

The Ecomuseum has participated in several European LEADER and PRODER programmes, as well as in other regional and national calls for proposals, which have Sustainable Development as a cross-cutting theme; we are currently working on the complete set of SDGs.

The preferred SDGs on which the Ecomuseum is working do pertain to economic diversification and the enhancement of historical and natural heritage from the point of view of research, conservation and dissemination of heritage, as described in the table below; the preferred SDGs on which the Ecomuseum is currently working are those shown in the table below, in particular SDG No. 11, 13, 15 – those relating to sustainable cities and communities, climate action and life on land (sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt and reverse land degradation, halt climate action and life on land). 11, 13, 15 – those related to sustainable cities and communities, climate action and life on land (sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss).

At the Ecomuseum we are aware that this sustainable development must take into account:

  • The local heritage (historical and natural)
  • Tourism as a complement to agricultural, livestock and processing activities, as the main activities that the rural world must have.
  • Technological innovation (R&D)
  • Renewable energies and waste recycling (water treatment plant and use of olive residues).
  • Rural settlement to curb depopulation
  • Promoting the circular economy and local produce
  • Creating producer-consumer networks
  • Promoting quality oils and organic olive groves.

7. COVID-19

We have not stopped working during the pandemic, and we made progress in those areas where tourism activity left us lagging behind:

  • Research
  • Cataloguing
  • Museum renovation
  • New package tours
  • Preventive health measures have been taken.
  • Courses and visits with limited capacity and preventive measures are carried out.

Virtual training and the creation of more proposals for the local population (when it was the only one who could attend due to confinement) have been enhanced.

On the one hand, we note that visits are increasing as soon as health measures allow, and that there is a high demand (which will increase in the coming years). On the other hand, there is a certain weariness and discouragement among the local population.


Scientific Coordinators

Leandro França, Barbara Kazior, Óscar Navajas, Manuel Parodi-Álvarez, Lisa Pigozzi, Raul dal Santo, Julio Seoane, Maristela Simão