Cantoria is the town where Don Juan de Austria established his main encampment and where his troops actively participated in the expulsion of the Moors during the sixteenth century. It has around 3,200 inhabitants.
The origin of the name of Cantoria is unknown, however, it is likely connected to the Moors, who called the town Canturia. Other sources suggest that the name relates to neighboring Oria, a Castilian name. Cantoria was formed of an early Andalusian Arab population that settled in the twelfth century. From this time, only some remains of the old fortress are preserved in Piedra de Lugar Viejo. The current settlement of the town was developed between 1570 and 1573.
With the Christian Re-conquest, the Catholic Monarchs granted the town the title of villa, as it passed towards the Conquest of Granada. The Marquis of Los Vélez bought it in 1515, with Partaloa, for two and a half million maravedis. The Marquisate tried to suppress the subsequent Moorish uprising, but Cantoria put up an epic resistance. It was Don Juan de Austria who ended the contest, and once the war was over, the Moors were expelled from the Kingdom of Granada.
Today, in addition to its agricultural activities, Cantoria houses one of the largest marble companies in the province of Almería.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora de los Dolores
The church is also known as Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora del Carmen and was built in the nineteenth century, between 1816 and 1870. Architecturally, it is closer to being a cathedral. It has neoclassical features such as a Latin cross floor plan and two side aisles, covered with a barrel vault ceiling with a dome on the cruise. The stone foundations support walls comprising a mixture of stonework and solid brick. The two prismatic towers have three-body square bases and circular and semicircular arched windows, measuring 22m high. Inside, a series of paintings from the Prado Museum stand out, such as the imposition of the chasuble on San Ildefonso, by Antonio Lanchares, a disciple of Zurbarán, a painting by Santa Teresa of the Seville School and a painting by San Juan Bautista. Located in Plaza Juan Carlos I.
Centro de Interpretación Valle de Almanzora Fuego
The Interpretation Center provides touristic information about the area, such as gastronomy, accommodation, places of interest, hiking, culture and heritage and activities. The word ‘fire’ mentioned in its name represents the expressions of human talent that give personality, warmth and colour to the Almanzora Valley. Located on Avenida Eduardo Cortés.
Saturday, 10:00-14:00hrs and 16:00-20:00hrs
Tel: 950 43 60 00
The chapel’s old structure has been refurbished, but the building remains an enchanting symbol of Cantoria, visible on the horizon as travellers approach the town. Its tower, together with those of the church, floods the valley with mystical influence. Located on Calle Ermita.
Palacio de Almanzora
The Almanzora Palace is one of the most distinct neoclassical buildings in the entire province of Almeria. It dates to the eighteenth century, when the Marquisate of Los Vélez decided to divide the local geography into three administrative zones. The palace was built in the Almanzora zone, and was equipped with grain stores, an oil mill and housing and administrative sections, later being adapted as a manor house for the families of the Marquises of Villafranca and Marquis de la Romana. In the mid- nineteenth century, Don Antonio Abellán Pañuelas acquired the Palace. In 1872, he was appointed Marquis, thus becoming the first Marquis of Almanzora. He considerably expanded the main building, giving it the neoclassical air that was fashionable at the time. Today, the interior rooms retain numerous decorative elements, such as painted baseboards imitating the texture of marble and cheerful colours and drawings on the walls and ceilings. Visits are by appointment only through the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall). The Palace is located in Plaza de la Estación.
The Saavedra Theater was built in 1926, at the expense of Vicente Giménez Saavedra, according to the memorial plaque preserved on one of the side doors. It is situated on the corner of two crossing streets that lead to the center of Villa de Cantoria, which prevented the possibility of expansion during a recent restoration of the building. All of its entrances are surrounded by white molding, which makes them stand out against the pink painted walls. Located on Calle Ermita.
Convento de la Divina Infantita
Once a convent, this building is currently home to the town’s library, and also serves as a retirement home. Located on Calle Romero.
The San Cayetano y San Antón chapel, constructed in the eighteenth century, is also worth a visit.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE TOWN
Cuéllar Arquitectura de Mármol
Several decades ago, Antonio Cuéllar, a master craftsman trained in the classic school of natural stone crafts, developed modern techniques for handling marble without compromising the quality of artisan design. Antonio’s self-taught knowledge revolutionized the production of stone products and his techniques are still used today. The Cuéllar Arquitectura de Mármol is a factory and display centre honouring Cuéllar’s work, located north of Cantoria, off Carretera A-334.
Tel: 950 12 19 00
Mirador Valle de Almanzora
This viewpoint offers visitors amazing panoramic views of the valley and its wonderful natural landscapes. Located off Carretera A-110.
Torre Alto de Púlpito
This high tower dates to the tenth century and is still partially preserved. Also known as the “Molino de Viento” (windmill), the tower communicated with another located on the hill of La Copa, which in turn communicated with the rest of the watchtowers in the area, together controlling all the roads that led from the coast inland. Located off Carretera AL-7103.
Torreta de Cantoria La Perula
This is another important watchtower of Cantoria, popularly known as La Perula. According to Madoz, there was once a Moorish tower called Perula on this site, of which the current tower is likely to be a reconstruction. The masonry tower is cylindrical, widening slightly at its base. Three windows are currently conserved whilst a fourth is suspected to have disappeared. The whole complex is in a very bad state of conservation, however, most of its walls are still standing, although the coronation appears destroyed. Located off Carretera A-1100.
Piedra del Lugar Viejo
On a hill that rises from a bank of the Almanzora River, visitors find the remains of the old Moorish Cantoria. The structures, although very deteriorated, give an idea of the affluence of the town during the Moorish period of the twelfth century. There are numerous historical annotations that explain the original layout of the town, comprising narrow and irregular streets surrounded by walls and defended by a castle. The stone foundations of the watchtower can still be seen today. Of the fort, only minimal remains of walls and a tower are visible. The one properly conserved vestige is a large cistern, which is paired with another more deteriorated one on the west wall.
The varied gastronomy of Cantoria offers dishes such as Cantorian gazpacho (cold tomato soup), migas (fried bread with pork), arroz con conejo (rice with rabbit), conejo en ajo (rabbit cooked in garlic), tortilla de ajo (garlic omlette), fritá de sangre (black pudding stew) and pelotas (bean, fennel and black pudding stew). Sweet treats include bizcocho relleno de cabello de ángel (sponge filled with sweet squash), roscos de naranja (orange doughnuts) and mantecados de anís (aniseed lard cakes).
Marble work is very important throughout the town and is the only traditional craftwork still widely produced by local residents.
Popular festivals in Cantoria are the Día de San Antonio Abad, Semana Santa, Corpus Christi and Feria de Noviembre. More>