by Saskia Mier
Chirivel is the fourth town of the comarca of Los Vélez in the north of the Almeria province, south of the Sierra de María. It is worth a visit in April to see the almond trees blossoming. It has about 1470 inhabitants.
The town has several outlying hamlets including El Contador, Aspilla, El Cantal and Rambla del Jali.
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”. More>
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia Parroquial de San Isidoro
The church was built at the end of the nineteenth century. An earlier plan by Ortiz de Villajos in 1865 was never executed. It has a structure of three naves and tower on the north side matching its bell tower on the other. Inside, there is a painting attributed to Luis Tristan, who was a student of El Greco. The last refurbishment took place in 2011. On August 30, 2012, the image of the Virgen del Rosario, the patron saint of Chirivel, returned to the church after 50 years in exile in a neighbour’s house, where it was undergoing repairs following damage in the church. Located in Plaza del Pueblo.
Casa del Minero
The miner’s house is a modernist art deco house built in 1906 by a wealthy mine owner from Cartagena. The facade has several balconies and decorative elements, and its interior splendor is concentrated on the walls, ceilings, doors and wrought iron staircase. Located in Plaza del Pueblo.
A bread-baking oven is traditionally known as a ‘tahona’ in Spanish. The tahona in Chirivel is one of the oldest buildings in the town, with its construction predating that of the church. These ovens were always communal, and locals would bring their bread dough to be baked at a price. Today, the bakery offers rich and varied pastries of Arab origin such as handmade almond rolls or suspiros (meringues).
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Iglesia de San Antonio
This church was erected in 1900 in a popular historicist style dating from the late nineteenth century. It was built on a the site of a previous hermitage from the early 700s. Its size and white exterior are perfectly integrated into the architecture of El Contador. When winter arrives, just a few days before Christmas, one can attend the unusual mass of joy in which a small group of musicians interpret the different parts of the Eucharist. These masses are held in the early morning before sunrise and usually end with a dance in the town square. Located in El Contador.
Museo del Esparto
The first museum dedicated to esparto grass, the weaving material that has been used since prehistoric times in the creation of containers, footwear, rope, etc. Located in El Contador.
WHERE TO STAY
Book Hotels in Chirivel
Sierra Maria-Los Vélez Natural Park
Established in 1987, the Sierra María-Los Vélez occupies the eastern end of the Cordillera Subbética in the north of the Almeria province. It covers 22,670 hectares and is a landscape of impressive contrasts, with its arid, moon-like plains overlooked by the Sierra’s rocky summits, white with snow in winter, and the dry, barren south-facing slopes opposing its densely wooded north-facing ones. Its climate too is characterised by great extremes, with temperatures plunging as low as -18°C in winter and rising to 39°C in summer. The park’s altitude ranges from 800m to the highest peak of María, a barren limestone outcrop at 2,045m. More>
La Sabina Milenaria
This tree is an ancient Juniperus Thurifera (Spanish Juniper), and is unique in the province of Almeria for its size and age, which has been estimated at between 600 and 1,000 years. Its vast dark green canopy is supported by a think and sinuous trunk, the bare roots of which stick out from the ground. More>
Sendero La Sabina
This route is of great scenic value, and runs from the Cortijada del Mojonar (Chirivel) before passing by La Sabina viewpoint where you can make a well-deserved stop along the way to contemplate the wonderful views of the Chirivel corridor.
When visiting Chirivel, try popular dishes such as migas (fried breadcrumbs with pork), puchero (stew), caldo de huevos (egg soup), gurullos (pasta stew), remojón (cod and orange salad), pelotas (meatballs), choto al Pastoril (garlic goat), trigo guisado (wheat stew) and fritada de sangre (fried black pudding). Sweet treats include roscos de aguardiente (aniseed biscuits), roscos de naranja (orange biscuits), almendrados (almond biscuits) and suspiros (meringues).
Popular festivals in Chirivel are Fiestas de San Isidoro, Misas del Gozo and Fiestas de San Antón. More>
The tourist office is located in the town hall of Chirivel. More>