Vélez Blanco – Sierra de María-Los Vélez Natural Park
Vélez Blanco is a municipality located to the north of the province, in the region of Vélez, included in the Sierra de María-Los Vélez Natural Park, characterized by a continental Mediterranean climate, its rugged mountains of dolomitic and limestone materials, for their forests of pines and oaks, and the richness of its archaeological sites and caves, as evidenced by the existence in this town in the Cave of Ambrosio, important site of the Neolithic, cave paintings of the shelters of Santonge, Los Calar of Leria, Gabar and especially the Cave of Los Letreros, declared National Monument, and where we can observe the paint that has become the symbol of Almería: the Indalo.
In addition to this impressive wealth, the town has an urban structure inherited from the Arab age, very well preserved and cared, which corresponds to the beauty of the whole group, prevailed by the impressive Renaissance castle of Vélez Blanco, of which only the outside as the interior decoration was sold by its owners to a French antique dealer in 1903.
The municipality of Vélez Blanco is a continuous place of settlement from prehistoric times. The best representation of the Upper Palaeolithic and the Neolithic was found in the Cueva de Ambrosio. As for the cave paintings we can emphasize the shelters of Santonge and above all the Cueva de los Letreros, declared National Monument.
The first signs of the Iberian villages date from the VII and VI centuries B.C. located in the hills of medium height and along the river or near water sources. Later there were found the remains in the same Vélez Blanco. The Roman age is characterized by the proliferation of villas all over the municipal area, its occupation lasts from the I century to the V century
In the period of Al-Andalus the previous centres of population will continue in the form of farmsteads and begins to gain importance Vélez Blanco due to its strategic position. Its name also began appearing Velad al-Abyadh. During the Moorish period its defensive capacity increases in order to reinforce the borders of the Kingdom of Granada. In the XIV century appears as an impregnable fortress for its strength and its double enclosure of walls.
After the Christian conquest, Isabel la Católica gave the villa in 1503 to Pedro Fajardo, he turns it into the head of his dominion. The castle will be built between 1505 and 1516 where it will include the old Arab fortress.
After the War of the Alpujarras (1568-1570), the Moors who remained were scattered outside the Kingdom of Granada. Vélez Blanco would be depopulated and the repopulation was carried out in 1574 with two hundred settlers from the East.
During the XVII and XVIII centuries the new settlers will be consolidated expanding the town and consolidating their customs and ways of farming that will change some of their landscape. The XIX century will bring new life with the abolition of the domains; the extension of the industrial estate with new flour mills, factories of spinning and weaving mills; and this region would be the first to be included in the service of reforestation established in 1888 . The predominance of the district administration will be of Vélez Rubio.
With the beginning of the XX century the castle was dismantled by the sale of interior ornamentation to a French antique dealer, nowadays it can be contemplate at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The demographic decline in the second half of the century begins to stop nowadays and even today there is an increase, a fact that reveals a dynamic society that face forward to the coming years.
Vélez Blanco Monuments
Castillo-Palacio del Marqués de los Vélez, 1506-1515. Renaissance style. F. Work Florentini’s work. The inner ward of the Palace is located in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Parish Church of Santiago, 1515-1559. It mixes the elements of Gothic, Renaissance and Moorish tradition. The woodwork of the roofs is the work of the Moorish called Zunzunegui. Juan de Orea made his altarpieces in 1571, being destroyed in 1.936.
Church of La Magdalena. Mudejar style. It was built on the ruins of an ancient mosque.
Convent of San Luis, XVI century. Moorish and With Mudejar and Renaissance features. Built by Luis Fajardo de la Cueva, Marquis of Vélez. On the façade highlights the tower and front with the arms of the Marquis. Inside it keeps the top of a seventeenth-century altarpiece.
Hermitage of La Concepción, 1573-1577.
Casa de los Bañones, 1881.
Casa de los Serna. It keeps an altar where there was celebrated the first mass after the Christian conquest.
Cave of Los Letreros. Declared Monumento Nacional in 1924. It was discovered in 1868. The cave paintings are about 6.000 years old. It is a famous the image of the Indalo, symbol of Almería.
Cave of Ambrosio. Occupied continuously since the time of the Upper Palaeolithic to the Neolithic.
Cerro de las Canteras. In it we can observe the remains of the largest Neolithic settlement and necropolis of the peninsula.
Alcazaba. Nowadays there are remains of walls and a well.
Río Claro, Taibena and Pozo Belmonte.
Cinco Caños, Caños de Caravaca and La Novia.
Barrio de la Judería.
Calle Corredera. Street in an “L” form which houses the main manor houses.
The gastronomy is typical of the natural wealth that has given this land since ancient times. We have to emphasize and recommend the delicious and nutritious meal crumbs, traditional food of the country people, simple in its production. They are served: either with grapes, rotten olives and raw tomatoes in the local style (seasoned with rosemary, thyme and orange); with herring, garlic, roasted peppers and spicy dip.
We cannot forget in confectionery the tasty gurullos with partridge or hare.
Noteworthy is the bakery in the town where we can mention “bilbaos”, “mantecados dormidos” and others.
How to get there
You have to exit Almería. Take the road to Granada. Cross Huércal de Almería. Go straight on. Take the national road N-340 towards: Huércal de Almería – Almería – E-15 – N-340 – Nijar – Murcia. At the roundabout, take the salida 1 and continue along: A-92A towards: A-92 – Benahadux – Guadix. Alleyway of Benahadux. At the roundabout, take the salida 3 and continue along: A-92 towards: Guadix – Granada. Take the exit towards: Salida 373/376 – Tabernas – Murcia – N-340a. At the roundabout, take the salida 2 and continue along: N-340A. Pass near Tabernas. At the roundabout, take salida 4 and continue along: A-349. Pass near Tahal. Around Olula del Río, continue on: A-334 then turn left: A-399. Alleyway of Partaloa and get Chirivel. In Chirivel, take Avenida de Andalucía. Take A-92N. Take the exit towards: Salida 404 – Vélez Rubio – Vélez Blanco – María – Vía de Servicio – Parque Natural Santa María-Los Vélez – A-317. Cross Vélez Rubio and follow the signs until you get Vélez Blanco.
Distances from Vélez Blanco
Orce 39 km
Oria 42 km
María 9 km
Chirivel 24 km
Almería 145 km
Huéscar 54 km
Húercal Overa 48 km
Puerto Lumbreras 33 km