1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Écija

ÉCIJA, a town of southern Spain, in the province of Seville; on the Cadiz-Cordova railway and the left bank of the river Genil. Pop. (1900) 24,372. The river, thus far navigable, is here crossed by a fine old bridge; and the antiquity of the town betrays itself by the irregularity of its arrangement, by its walls and gateways, and by its numerous inscriptions and other relics. Its chief buildings include no fewer than twenty convents, mostly secularized. The principal square is surrounded with pillared porticoes, and has a fountain in the centre; and along the river bank there runs a fine promenade, planted with poplar trees and adorned with statues. From an early period the shoemakers of Écija have been in high repute throughout Spain; woollen cloth, flannel, linen and silks are also manufactured. The vicinity is fertile in corn and wine, and cotton is cultivated. The heat is so great that the spot has acquired the sobriquet of El Sarten, or the “Frying-pan” of Andalusia. Écija, called Estija by the Arabs, is the ancient Astigis, which was raised to the rank of a Roman colony with the title of Augusta Firma. According to Pliny and Pomponius Mela, who both wrote in the 1st century A.D., it was the rival of Cordova and Seville. If local tradition may be believed, it was visited by the apostle Paul, who converted his hostess Santa Xantippa; and, according to one version of his life, it was the see of the famous St Crispin (q.v.) in the 3rd century.