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History of Chirivel

HISTORY OF CHIRIVEL

The town’s origin comes from a set of farmhouses in the Los Vélez manor. It obtained its municipal independence from Vélez Rubio in 1895. There is not much agreement on the meaning of its name. According to the Arabists, its name means “kiss of Allah”, whilst more recent research has associated its toponym with an Arab verb meaning “to drink”, or “drink from the highest source”.  

Local archaeological sites indicate Prehistoric settlements, as well as vestiges of Iberian and Arab communities. Most abundant are artefacts of Roman origin. In El Villar, a site near the town, sumptuous pieces of Roman origin have been found, such as marble columns and gilded capitals; some historians believe these to be parts of the mansion mentioned on the Roman Itinerary Ad-Morum.

The early history of the village stems from its location near an important Roman road – this is often incorrectly referred to as Via Augusta, but is certainly recorded in the Antonine Itinerary ii. A milestone dedicated to Emperor Octavio Augusto dated 8AD was found in the Venta Quemada river gorge and is conserved in the Cúllar parish church. The Roman road passed through Eliocroca (today’s Lorca), Ad Morun (possibly Chirivel) and Basti (Baza).

In excavations carried out in 1985, a Dionysus was found, a beautiful sculpture dating from the middle of the second century AD. Some even say that it could represent Antinous, favorite of the Emperor Hadrian. This sculpture has become a symbol of Chirivel, and is known by locals as “El Chirivello”.

In the middle ages, this area south of the Sierra de María and Sierra de Marmon was forested and known as the Campo de Chirivel (Chirivel Plateau). During the thirteenth century, the region was on the eastern border of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada alongside the Christian Kingdom of Murcia. It was only lightly farmed and, as a potentially dangerous frontier location, the area was gradually depopulated. 

Following the reconquest in 1488, the Campo de Chirivel was the subject of dispute between the city of Baza and the Marquis de los Vélez (Vélez Blanco, Vélez Rubio and Oria). The boundary between the two was finally settled according to a geographic feature; the watershed. Rainwater falling to the west of the watershed flows into the Guadiana Menor river, a tributary of the Rio Guadalquivir, and flows into the Atlantic near Sanlucar de Barrameda. Rainwater falling to the east of the watershed flows into the Segura river, which discharges into the Mediterranean near Alicante. The highpoint on the A-92 is called the El Contador pass. Sitting at 1130m above sea level, this is the current boundary between the provinces of Granada and Almería.

 

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