Pechina – Sierra de Alhamilla – Pechina Valley
Pechina is a town found in the middle in the of the valley from where it gets its name, at the foot of Sierra de Alhamilla, with low white houses, dominated by the church which towers over the vast citrus groves, and the hills and ravines that make up the landscape. The area around Pechina has been designated the Natural Park Sierra de Alhamilla, which is of great ecological interest, having a landscape of lush vegetation (consisting of a very well preserved oak forest and reforested pine), and also it is of ornithological importance.
This valley was one of the gateways to the lower Iberian peninsula from the East, for the Mediterranean cultures, nearby were found Roman and Arab artifacts, possibly from an Arab town, which may have been the origion of modern Almeria, and also for its geographical location, mild and healthy climate all year round, and fertile land, irrigated by the largest river Almería. The Sierra Alhamilla thermal spring is gaining prestige day by day for the quality of its calcium bicarbonate waters.
For the Romans, Pechina (known as Urci) was an important land post for trade, and by sea it was known as the “Portus Magnus” as a trading point for textile crafts of linen and silk and other products from the East and Byzantium. It was the first episcopal see of San Indalecio, one of seven apostolic men. Arabs settled here for eight about centuries, under the emirate of Córdoba, their leader Umar b. Aswad al-Gassani surrounded it with walls and built a splendid mosque similar to that in Cordoba. With Rahman III it became the caliphate of almirantazgo.
When Almería was given to the Catholic Monarchs, Pechina remained important to the area, despite being inhabited mainly by moors, 66 houses in total. Despite the devoted Catholic worship, the church still retains its original Arabic design, having beautiful pointed arches, but the Christians changed, among other things, the main portal which now looks to the North, but the Mudejar steeple, with its three bells still remains.
After the war that led to the expulsion of the Moors, the new population of Pechina came from Andalusia, Murcia, and Valencia, together with some Moors who were able to escape deportation. The Arabs left behind their agricultural prowess, irrigated agriculture through water pipes in batches, even ditches that remain today. The area now under cultivation is composed of small plots of olive trees and fig trees whose fruits are destined almost exclusively for export, with a smaller amount for home consumption. Industrial activity was limited then, being only three mills and small artisan workshops producing agricultural products and textiles.
Population growth in the eighteenth century led to the need for new farmland, under private initiative work began in the area known as “El Marraque”, which had a spring providing abundant water, enough to fertilize over 1600 acres. Pechina had three separate “barrios” or neighborhoods, and in 1850 the inhabitants of that time already had a primary school, town hall, 5 shops and a tavern. Don Claudio Sanz y Torres, Bishop of Almería, later organised the building of the town baths.
The twentieth century undoubtedly saw the most important changes to the valley and its people, who became engaged in good quality grape cultivation, with a doubling of population, and also profits, buildings are now better constructed, like the summer palace and large buildings belonging to the parish church that housed the religious order of Carmelites of Charity, a Franciscan order. Also, a stylish theatre was built, where Juan del Moral Perceval premiered his drama “Marisol.”
This prosperous time was overshadowed by the crisis in international markets due the First World War, the cultivation of the vine being replaced by orange trees, and perhaps outdated agricultural structures made it difficult to maintain strong competition or begin work on new products. This led to unprecedented population migration to France, Argentina, Venezuela, Barcelona until 1987 when Pechina had only 2093 inhabitants. Pechina today has about 700 farms, but also with serious water problems, and although the overall unemployment is low, we see a slight industrial development mainly related to industries in the capital.
Pechina. having been Muslim, Moorish and Christian has a legend which the village elders tell of the beautiful Aisa, who every night while combing her beautiful hair with a silver comb, cried so many tears for her impossible love of a Christian that the tears formed a well, and since then she has been condemned to walk through the waters of the well every full moon, trapped forever in those same waters.
Apostolic Church of San Indalecio
Bayyana archaeological site.
Sierra Spa Alhamilla.
Hot spring known as the Phoenician and Roman but it was the Arabs who used it more. It was abandoned for many years until in 1776 when a resort was built a near the fountain.
Gastronomy in Pechina
Sausages. Alpujarreña fried meats. Choto cabañil with garlic. Stew of turnips with pork liver. Tabirnas colors (potato stew with red peppers, onions and garlic).
Sweets: Roscos Semana Santa ( usually at Easter). Soplillos (egg and almond). Honey muffins. Donuts.
Exit Almería. Take road to Granada and continue to Huércal of Almeria. Pass Huércal and continue to Almeria: Carretera de Almería. Pass Viator. At the roundabout, take exit 3 Continue to: ALP-110 ALP-814. Enter Pechina.
Distances from Pechina
Rioja 4 km
Gádor 7.5 km
Paulenca 8 km
Benahadux 2.5 km
Huércal Almeria 4.5 km