HISTORY OF CUEVAS DE ALMANZORA
Due to its location and natural resources, Cuevas de Almanzora has been a settlement for various cultures throughout history. The area was once home to a mining village called Villaricos, from which the Phoenicians established a neuralgic trade centre from the seventh century BC. This was subsequently a settlement location for Carthaginians and Romans. It was the area where two Roman provinces met; Betica and Tarraconense. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Visigothic and Byzantine settlements appeared. It was during the Al-Andalus period that sea trade and mining activities were abandoned and agriculture was developed inland, taking advantage of the waters of the Almanzora River for irrigation.
The population that settled in this area was of Syrian origin. The natural caves are believed to have developed as hiding places from the frequent Christian attacks from the neighbouring Kingdom of Murcia. The Catholic Monarchs conquered the village in 1488 and gave it as a feudal estate to the first Marquis of Los Vélez in 1503. Los Vélez held the site until the Marquis’s abolition in the early nineteenth century. The village would later also play an active part in the War of the Alpujarras between 1568 and 1570.
After the expulsion of the Moors, the village was was repopulated with 200 families from Murcia. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the population lived under the rule of the estate and survived mainly on agriculture.