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Villages in Almeria

Somontín

Villages in Almeria

Somontín – Almanzora Valley

Somontín is located in the north part of Almanzora Valley, a few miles of the river, stands above its rock roots, the town of Somontín between the slopes of the mountains at a height of 831 m above sea level. Its winding and steep streets, pounded around the Holy places and the “Mercao.” Through the poplars or under the porch railing us closer to the church to show from there, the silhouette of a mountain carved by hammering and dotted with spots of green pines: the Sierra de los Filabres. In that background, we can observe and contemplate, like crib figures, a large semicircular panorama of villages in the region of Almanzora: Lúcar Higueral, Serón, Bayarque, Bacares, Tíjola, Armuña, Sierro, Suflí, Purchena, Olula del Río, Macael, Fines and Cantoria. When the modernist writer called Francisco Villaespesa see this landscape named the town in one of his poems with the name of “Balcón of Almanzora”.

We cannot specify the date of the origin of Somontín, although there are information from investigators from II century of the Christian Era, being located further south of the present town, as shown in a study of José Diego Garcia Guirao about the Valle del Almanzora, indicating that these town had a certain importance, as indicated by the fact that the emperor Marcus Aureliole authorized to mint coins.

With the invasion of the Arabs the town finally settles in its current location due to its defensive advantages, difficult access and abundance of water sources. It must have a strategic place, since in the IX century it is Muslim fortress (Hisn Somontan). In case of military conflict it was the safest place as a refuge for residents of nearby villages.

After the reconquest of these places, on June 25, 1492 the Catholic Monarchs gave Don Alonso Fernández de Córdoba, lord of Alcaudete and Montemayor, the villages of Somontín and Fines. He must lose it soon, because Castro Guisasola says that “in 1540 both villages belonged to Gaspar Rótulo. He or his father, landlord of the real incomes in the Kingdom of Granada, had bought them in 1574 being still owned by Galeazo Rótulo Carrillo”.

Once the Moors were expelled, during the period of repopulation the goods and lands confiscated from the expelled families were given to settlers, from various parts of the country. Like a curious piece of information, the Moors did not burn the church, which was subsequently improved. In 1594, it is said the town is visited by an illustrious personage, Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, since, given the job that he was in those years, “Recaudador de Impuestos de la Hacienda Real,” was to appear at Somontín and other towns of the Almanzora, since there were problems with the collection of the sales taxes.

The existence of talc mines is not mentioned until Madoz, 1848, which gives us reason to believe that it could hide data to the registrar in 1752 or that the mines were discovered between 1752 and 1848. The mining is usually performed in an anarchic way through small companies and independent miners, but in 1918 appeared an English company, “The Somontin Mines Ltd”, which is actually devoted to the acquisition of the production of the various mines and the drainage of them, but his life was fleeting.

The extracted mineral from them were carried to Purchena in trains of donkeys and from there to the port of Aguilas by Lorca-Baza railway. Since 1924 there were installed two small talc factories at Purchena railway station, one belonging to the society ” Echeverría y Acosta” and another company whose owner was the “Fábrica Española de Talco, SA” employing fifteen workers and producing over one thousand five hundred tons per year. The production of them was conditioned by external demand that made prices fluctuate especially the ones of gray colour (brown soap), prized for the manufacture of soap.

After the Civil War came a revival, reaching a record output of 7.789 tonnes, and in 1942 reach 45% of the domestic production. In recent years the talc mines have faced problems of flooding in the mining work because it appears a pocket of groundwater, in addition to the exhaustion of productive seams, causing the closure and the emigration of many families to other places, from the 1.047 inhabitants in 1950 to 680 in 1970, when mines fell.

After a break of mining activity and wealth, from the seventies is taken up again the farming activity among the neighbours who had not moved to Cataluña, Andorra and, above all, joining the Civil Guard, in which many children of the town were members, reaching some year to exceed the sum of one hundred. They are very significant figures in relation to population size.

Somontín Monuments

Parish Church, XVI century. Located in the old mosque. Inside it is a Virgen de los Dolores de Salzillo.

Archaeological Sites

Cerro del cortijo del Carrillo.
Site of Roman remains.

Square of El Sanro.
Remains of an Arab cemetery.

Town Planning

Plaza de la Constitution.
Arcades from the time of the Moors.
Church Street.
On the facade of a house you can observe a shield of the Holy Inquisition with characters of the XVIII century.

Gastronomy

Migas de Trigo. Olla de Trigo. Purchena Fry (with tomatoes and peppers). Empedrado (Rice with cod and beans). Cod balls. Fried rabbit.

Sweets: Mantecados caseros. Tortas de manteca. Hornazos. Buñuelos. Roscos fritos.

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, Benitorafe and Macael. Follow the signs to Olula del Río. Cross Olula del Río. Go straight on and turn left: A-334. Continue to: ALP-402 and enter Somontín.

Distances

Suflí 12 km
Fines 15 km
Lúcar 22 km
Tíjola 16 km
Almería 91 km
Partaloa 25 km
Purchena 8,5 km
Armuña de Almanzora 14 km


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