by Saskia Mier
Situated in valley of the Sierra de Alhamilla and served by the Andaráx River, Pechina is well-known for its magnificent Balneario of 58ºC hot springs, which is open all year round.
Pechina plays an important role in the history of the province as it was once the dominant Bayyana documented by Arab geographers and historians, the origin and mother of the city of Almería. The Roman city of Urci is noted as having exited in the vicinity of today’s Pechina.
In 884, sailors from North Africa arrived in Pechina. Together with the Yemenis, Jews and Mozarabs, they formed a peaceful population and constituted a “maritime republic”, surrounding the population that had formed around the Umar mosque. Pechina became a flourishing city with an economy based in silkworm breeding and looms; its walls welcomed an ever-growing population of merchants and artisans.
Around 955, the population became dominated by philosophers and Sufis seeking refuge, fleeing intolerance and the danger to which they were subjected in other regions due to the dissemination of their ideas. For many of them, taking refuge in Pechina meant survival. The Sufi School of Pechina, which has its roots in the school of Ibn Masarra from Córdoba, was thought to hold madmen of God. Between 1780 and 1950, mining was very important for the municipality.
THINGS TO SEE
Balneario de Sierra Alhamilla
The Sierra Alhamilla Spa is situated on the slopes of the Sierra. It is believed that Romans and Arabs knew of the existence of this spring, and the well-preserved pools are a vestige of their time here. The current building was constructed over a medieval one on the site in 1777, under the auspices of Bishop Sanz y Torres. The spa waters are hypothermal, maintaining a 58ºC temperature, and are sulphated, bicarbonated, chlorinated and radioactive, as well as containing sodium-magnesium. They are used in two types of cure: Drink Cure and Hydrothermal Cure. The site was converted into a luxury Hotel and Spa in 1991, although the structure and architecture of the baths were preserved. Located on Calle Los Baños. Tel: 950 31 74 13.(Location)
Iglesia de San Indalecio
The church was recognized as the Episcopal Headquaters in Rome by the Apostles at the beginning of the fourth century. During the Visigoth period, its Bishops attended the councils of Toledo and, in the High Middle Ages, already under Muslim domination, it was preserved until the late-eleventh century. According to the Acts of the Royal Notary of 157, the current church building has existed since the time of the Catholic Kings. A pilgrimage is held from the church of the municipality in which the locals put on costumes and accompany the relic of San Indalecio to the Ermita de San Indalecio, where a mass is celebrated with a floral offering to the patron. Then the image of the chapel is transported to the church in a boat, commemorating, according to history, the manner in which San Indalecio arrived to Pechina. Located on Paseo de la Iglesia.(Location)
Ermita de San Indalecio
The tiny chapel dedicated to San Indalecio, patron saint of the town, sits on the outskirts of the town and holds the oldest Pechina pattern image inside. Located on Camino Benahadux.(Location)
Peña Flamenca El Yunque
A performance centre dedicated to flamenco dancing and singing. The centre regularly offers shows for the public and has even hosted flamenco festivals. Located on Calle Angustias.(Location)
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Yacimiento Arqueológico de Bayyana
This archaeological site is a medieval city that corresponds to the Muslim occupation of the town. A large number of coins have been found at this site, which can now be seen in the Museum of Almería. The site continues to offer interesting insights as excavations are continuously carried out.(Location)
El Chorrilo de Pechina
An old deserted mining hamlet in the Sierra Alhamilla, where Exodus: Gods and Kings was filmed. For Game of Thrones, a new set was built representing Vaes Dothrak, the only city in the Dothraki Sea. Sir Jorah Mormont and Daarid Naharis rescue Daenerys Targaryen here in Episode 4. (See complete Andalucia Game of thrones location listing.)(Location)
Paraje Natural Sierra Alhamilla
Only 15km northeast of Almería city is this largely barren and rugged 8,500Ha mountain range, designated a protected natural area in 1989. Riven by deep gullies, particularly on its southern slopes, it rises to 1,387m at its highest point of the Colativí peak. It is a sparsely populated area, with only 50 inhabitants within its boundaries. Despite being semi-arid, the Sierra has some outstanding examples of holm oak woodland in places over 800m.
Camino Mozárabe de Santiago – Etapa 01A
The Mozarabic Route was used by the Christians who lived in the Arab Kingdoms and is made up of a set of historical communication routes from the south and centre of the Iberian Peninsula that acquired special importance during the Middle Ages since they united the important ports of Al-Andalus with the great inland cities. Stage 01A starts in Almería city, passing through Pechina on its way to Santa Fe de Mondújar.
When vising Pechina, try local dishes such as migas (friend breadcrumbs with pork), acelgas esparragadas (chard usually served in a stew or with scrambled eggs), choto al ajo cabañil (lamb cooked in garlic), olla de nabos (turnip stew), encebollado con hígado de cerdo (onion livers) and tabirnas colorás (potato stew). For a sweet treat, try the well-known and popular papaviejos (fried doughnuts, some flavoured with orange).
Pechina was a major producer of woven silks for many years.
Popular festivals in Pechina are Fiestas de San Claudio, Semana Santa, Cruz de Mayo and Fiestas Patronales de San Indalecio. More>