by Saskia Mier
Benahadux sits over the Andarax River and is home to many archaeological remains from the Copper Age. The town’s primary economic activity is the production and trade of straw, oranges and potatoes. It has about 4,360 inhabitants.
Just over a kilometer away is a neighborhood of Benahadux known as “El Chuche”. This is the oldest known settlement of the municipal term in the Copper Age, at the same time as the Culture of the Thousands (2500-2000 BC). It became an Iberian city (Urki) between the fifth and second centuries BC and it was transformed into the Roman city of Urci. It must have been an important Christian community after the arrival of Christianity, since it was the episcopal seat. During the fourth and fifth centuries, the population of Urci gradually disappeared. With the Muslim conquest in the eighth century, a series of Yemeni clans settled in the valley of the lower Andarax, one of which, Banu Abdus, would give rise to the current Benahadux. With the Christian conquest in 1489, most of the properties became part of the new settlers.
Following the War of the Alpujarras (1568-1570), the Moors were expelled and the repopulation took place from the year 1572 with people from outside the Kingdom of Granada. Officially, only Pechina was repopulated, creating the annexes of Benahadux and Alhamilla.
Benahadux underwent demographic and economic expansion during the nineteenth century thanks to mining activity. In 1850, about 100 lead galena mines were exploited. The lead smelter, La Palma, destroyed centuries-old olive trees in the valley. Vine plantations for grapes exported to England and the United States also contributed to economic development. The town obtained its current jurisdictional demarcation in 1850.
THINGS TO SEE
Centro de Interpretación de Benahadux
The Interpretation Centre offers a journey through the history of the southeast of the peninsula, focusing on the Iberian and Roman cultures of Almeria and their main exponent in the Bajo Andarax: the archaeological site of “El Chuche”. The building is dedicated to the memory of Domingo Salas Rodríguez, a local who was also a fan of archeology and actively contributed to its success. Located on Avenida 28 Febrero. Visits by appointment only. Tel: 950 31 00 01.
Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Virgen de la Cabeza
The church is situated within the old mosque of Benahadux, which after its consecration in 1505 was erected under the invocation of the Virgen de la Cabeza and her patron, San José. In 1770, the Town Hall sent a letter to the Bishop of Almeria indicating the lamentable state of the old church and the need to build a new religious building. In 1783, Benahadux was appointed its own priest of the Church of Benahadux, no longer depending on the parish of Pechina. The inauguration occurred in 1798, marked with a visit from the Bishop of Almeria. Located in Plaza Iglesia.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Toro de Osborne
The Osborne Bull advertising structure for the Spanish wine and food producer is one of twenty copies, which were built and erected between 1957 and the late 1970s. In general, they respond to an evolved layout based on an original drawing by designer Manuel Prieto Benítez (1912-1991), with changes that seek to adapt them to the construction system and process. They were built in the workshops of brothers José and Félix Tejada Prieto. Born as an advertisement, the image has turned into an artistic icon, and is considered an illustrative example of contemporary “pop-art”. This piece thus represented a ground-breaking notion in redefining the classical values of “authenticity”, understood as the ancient, unique and exceptional. On the other hand, from the anthropological point of view, the Osborne Bull constitutes a powerful symbol, as a ‘totem’ of the Spanish State, but also an identifying reference of Andalusia, transcending the aesthetic support of the brand. It was installed here in 1974. Due to its dimensions, it corresponds to the Giant Bull typology, with a height of 13.13m and a surface area of 150m2, and in total it reaches a weight of 4,000kg. Located on the N-340a, between Benahadux to Rioja.
Molino y Balsa de San Miguel
Also known as Molino del Marqués de Almansa, this is a mill with two stones and two waterfalls that grind with the abundant flow provided by the Benahadux spring. Its remains include large pieces of limestone with which the cube was assembled, large blocks of stone (1m on each side and a thickness ranging between 0.50m and 0.65m) with the center hollowed out by a circle of 0.75m. Next to the mill, a waterfall, in the shape of a small horse’s tail, falls into what was once a washing area on the farm. Located north the town, off the N-340a.
Yacimiento Arqueológico “El Chuche”
The archaeological area of “El Chuche” includes the hill of El Paredón, the hill of Las Agüicas and an intermediate sector between them. In the latter, excavations were carried out at the end of the 1970s, in which numerous walls of dwelling structures and a rich and varied repertoire of materials, mainly ceramic, appeared, among them Iberian and Mediterranean imports. The documented cultural sequence goes from the Copper Age to the late Roman period. The settlement located on the Cerro del Paredón was an important Roman centre, judging by the size of the habitat and its strategic location dominating the plain of the Andarax River. Hydraulic lines of several kilometers reached the city, conserving some of its sections; the closest to the hill has been included in the area under protection. On the Cerro de Las Agüicas, some findings were also made during the excavations of the 1970s, including several tombs. Despite having suffered damage from land clearing and railway works, it is mostly intact, offering invaluable research possibilities. It should be taken into account that this is one of the few sites from the full Iberian period that are known in the areas near the coast of Almeria, identifying itself with the Iberian mint of Urkesken and with the Ibero-Roman city of Urci, cited in classical fonts. The site is located west of the town, between the N-340a and the diversion road of said municipality.
The town of Benahadux is not especially well-known for arts and crafts, although there is a group of locals that dedicate themselves to making archaeological duplicates and reproductions from the remains that have been discovered in their town.
When visiting Benahadux, you must try stand-out dishes such as migas cortijeras (dried breadcrumbs fried with pork), pipirrana (tomato salsa), choto al ajillo (fried goat with garlic) and conejo al ajillo (rabbit with garlic). For those with a sweet tooth, this town produces delicious candy and sweet pastries including borrachillos (liqueur soaked buns), papaviejos (doughnuts), leche frita (fried custard), soplillos (meringues) and hornazos (honey pastries).
Popular festivals in Benahadux are Festival de San José, Jueves Lardero, Romería de San Isidro and Fiestas de la Virgen de la Cabeza. More>