Macael, Almanzora Region – Almería
Macael is located 535 m. above sea level, in the north of the province in the region of Almanzora, at the foot of La Sierra de Filabres, on the banks of the river Laroya.
When we mention Macael it means speaking about marble, famous throughout the world and throughout history, and used in monuments like La Alhambra, the Roman theatre of Mérida, the Mosque of Córdoba, the Palace of Medina Azahara, the Monastery of El Escorial, the Royal Palace, etc.
As a result this town, located in the Sierra de los Filabres, has become a prosperous and rich city, where is used in abundance the precious material, its true identity sign.
The presence of ancient towns passing through the town of Macael is very difficult to specify, since no remains have been found. It is therefore very difficult to determine the date on which this city is established. No remains have been found of Iberian and Roman settlements where is now located the town of Macael. However, the use of its own stone backs to the Phoenicians, who used it to build sarcophagus, as seen with the finding made in Cádiz of a Phoenician tomb made with this stone. The data have to date support the conclusion that the origins of the town of Macael focus on the X and XI centuries during the Muslim occupation. The original centre of population of Macael stood at a rocky hill, at the confluence of two rivers, to the South of the current city and distant from it about 2,5 kilometres.
This first sitting was used later to quarries, so it has not been properly preserved the remains of the villagers called “Macael Viejo”. During the Muslim settlement, the quarries of the town acquire great fame and from them the marble is extracted for different works. Thus, during the X and XI centuries, according to the existing information, there were extracted from the quarries large blocks in order to improve the Alcazaba of Almería and the gardens of the city. Those were times of the reign of Almutacín, who improved the city of Almería and tried to improve the appearance of everything.
During the XIII and XIV centuries were extracted large quantities of marble whose destiny was a work in Granada and the centuries have been preserved for the enjoyment of mankind: La Alhambra and El Generalife.
The town of Macael surrendered, together with the other cities of the region, to the Catholic Monarchs after they took Baza in 1489. In the capitulations given by Ferdinand and Isabella, the Moorish inhabitants remain, retaining their rights and traditions. A Royal Decree of 1501 the Villa de Macael becomes dependent on Baza due to the importance of their quarries. The unfavourable economic situation is due to: epidemics, poor harvests, new taxes, religious differences … that, in 1568 will result a Moorish uprising led by Aben Humeya.
The town of Macael was also immersed in the rebellion of the Moors, but these are not documented. Its position in a region that had great uprisings makes it to be immersed in that movement. The historian of the period, Ginés Pérez de Hita, says in one of his writings that the parish priest of Macael, the Bachelor Román, the Moorish took him captive to La Alpujarra, escaping from that place to return to Macael. Before he stayed in Purchena to warn the Christians of this village who came the Moors to conquer the region, which allowed them to flee and be saved.
The army led by the Marquis of Vélez, who was involved in the crushing of the rebellion in this area, it occurred January 6, 1569 by Macael, as he rested a day in Olula del Río, crossing the Sierra de los Filabres to camp in Tabernas.
After the surrender of Macael to the troops of Don Juan de Austria, it was carried out its repopulation, according to the Instruction of 1572 which regulated this procedure. Macael, that had 293 inhabitants before the expulsion of the Moors, was repopulated by 22 families from the Levant and Castilla la Nueva.
During the XVII and XVIII centuries Macael’s population shows a progressive increase of its members. In 1699 it had 403 inhabitants; in 1753, it had about 824. In the Cadastre of Ensenada, which took place on 1750-53, Macael had 213 houses, 40 farmers, 135 labourers and 14 half day labourers. There were also 221 cattle and 1.600 goats.
Until the XIX century the population had lived both of agriculture and the quarries. Sometimes it was more important the crops and there were years when the villagers moved to the provinces of Granada and Jaén in harvest time. Nowadays the process is reversed, because Macael has received a large number of outsiders, who have moved to the village to work as labourers in the marble quarries of the region.
The fact is that the local economy is increasingly focusing on the marble and starts a process of industrialization and mechanization of the same, in order to improve its collection and handling.
In the XX century, the presence of this stone will be placed on the market and it will trigger a strong demand and popularity of its use. It will be used for both monumental works to utensils and decorative items.
As there is a greater demand, Macael becomes a rich and prosperous centre point to be considered within the Almería economy, since it is one of the basic pillars, together with tourism on the coast and the greenhouses of the West, for development of this Andalusian province.
Parish Church, XVIII century. It has a Mudejar church.
Macael viejo. Located in the western foothills of Los Filabres, you can barely recognize a few vestiges of this settlement of Al-Andalus.
The urban area and the mountains offer a singular sight.
Obelisk from the XVII century.
Cruz de mayo. Obelisk with a cross on the top that is in the entrance of the town.
Museums. It is celebrated annually the national exhibition Marble-Art.
Sausages. Flour and bread crumbs. Rice with rabbit. Olla. Stew. Porridge.
How to get there
You have to exit Almería towards: N-340 – Murcia – Ronda de Almería – A-92 – Granada. Take the exit towards: Salida 453 – Viátor – Base Militar La Legión – A-92 – Guadix – Granada. At the roundabout, take the salida 4 and continue along: A-92. Take the exit towards: Salida 373/376 – Tabernas – Murcia – N-340a. Pass near Tabernas. At the roundabout, take the salida 4 and continue along: A-349. Pass near Tahal and follow the signs until you get Macael.
Tíjola 18 km
Serón 25 km
Albox 20 km
Almería 78 km
Cantoria 14 km
Purchena 10 km
Albánchez 27 km
Olula del Río 3,5 km
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