Vélez de Benaudalla
Velez de Benaudalla
Velez de Benaudalla can be found to the south of Granada, on the road which connects Motril and the coast with the city of the Alhambra, on the banks of the river Guadalfeo, (Rules Dam & Reservoir), and at the point where, after its serpentine meandering through the lands of the Alpujarra, and close to the costa granadina, it lies between the sierras of Lújar to the east, and that of Los Guájares to the west.
There is little evidence of prehistory within the municipal area of Vélez de Benaudalla. However, there is evidence nearby, as in the cueva del Capitan in Lobres, also others in las Campanas, and those at los Intentos, in Gualchos, belonging to the so-called ‘culturas de los cuevas’ (referring to the cave dwellers of the time). This can also be seen in the territory ‘veleño’, given the similarity to the regions already mentioned above.
Phoenicians and Carthaginians showed interest in the costa granadina, where they established two commercial enclaves in Almuñecar and Salobreña. The local inland population mined for lead, which was taken to these two ports for export to other areas of the Mediterranean. Tradition speaks of another mine locally, called ‘los Pozos de Anibal’ which may well be related to the operation of the nearby Carthaginian mines.
After the Roman conquest, the area was included in the Andalusia province of Betica, under the direct exploitation of the empire. Some authors speak of a Roman road between Sexi and Ilenerri (Granada) that connected that of Malacca (Malaga) with Abdera (Adra), allowing communications with the interior, with what is now Velez. At the end of the Roman Empire, Velez came under the Byzantine Empire, grouped together with other coastal areas within the Provincia Hispaniae, until in the seventh century the Visigoth king Leovigildo and his successors reached the coastal zone to expand his kingdom in the Peninsula.
The arrival in 711 of the Islamic armies was to usher in a new order that would profoundly alter the lifestyles and traditions of the inhabitants of the region. In the opinion of some researchers, we can identify Velez, in the ninth century, as a small hamlet called ‘Ballis’, one of many situated between the coast and the Alpujarras. There was already settled here the clan of the Banu Abdallah, which led to the current name of ‘Benaudalla.’ With a self-sufficient economy leaving little room for trade surplus, the town was controlled by a mayor, or representative of the law which followed the classic model imported to the region by the Muslims.
Until the invasion of the Almohade in 1090, the territory belonged to the Kura de Ilbira, which put it under the administrative jurisdiction of Granada, which raises the possibility that the farmsteads took the name of village as one entity or ‘balda’ which often happened in rural areas. The region was subsequently developed for irrigated agriculture and the silk industry.
Since 1297, with the Nazari Kingdom of Granada, the region was integrated into the Iqlim (District) of Salabeina (Salobreña). This time may hold the oldest remains of the ‘Jardin Nazari.’ The gradual stagnation of the kingdom and pressure from Christian soldiers created a climate in which the military had a permanent presence in the local lifestyle.
With the capitulations of 1489 along the coast of Granada, the area passed into the hands of the Ulloa family, of Castilian origin, but the population remained mostly Moorish. Velez was the scene, like most of the Alpujarras, of the Moorish uprising, which was a historically important episode in the region, and is re-enacted in many of the fiestas here. Riots and insecurity led the Spaniards not to get involved in any repopulation, and it was well into the eighteenth century before any notable resettlement of population was seen in Vélez de Benaudalla .
Vélez de Benaudalla Monuments
Iglesia Parroquial (Parish Church, XVIII century), designed by Ventura Rodriguez.
Castle (rebuilt after the conquest of the Catholic Kings).
Remains of ancient mosque.
Garden of the Nazari era
Gastronomy of Vélez de Benaudalla
Fennel stew (very abundant in the area), ‘salamandroña’, fried pumpkin with young garlic, usually accompanied by sausage.
Pestiños de Velez (fritters)
Leaving Granada. At the roundabout, take exit 4 Continue along: E-902 / A-44 heading towards Armilla – Motril. Take N-323. Follow signs to Vélez de Benaudalla.
Distances from Vélez de Benaudalla
Granada 52 km
Lobres 12 km
Órgiva 17 km
Armilla 45 km
Motril 13 km
Lanjarón 20 km
Salobreña 16 km
Almuñecar 28 km
Guájar Faraguit 11 km
Guájar Fondon A 11 km