Sorbas, also known as Cuenca la Chica, is an extremely impressive village. It is located on a small plateau over the Río Aguas, and its white houses are almost suspended over the ravine. It has around 2300 inhabitants.
Several prehistoric settlements dating from the Neolithic and Metal Ages have been found in Sorbas. Some found in the town centre at the beginning of the twentieth century have been dated as far back as the Bronze Age, around 2000 BC. These were found in the neighborhood of El Calvario, and notably included a grave containing a skeleton. The earliest supposed settlement was probably an Iberian town, which maintained commercial relations with the Phoenicians of the area.
According to writings of the eleventh century, the name is Arabic, from the meaning “sand pot”, and may relate to the Neolithic vessels found in the area. In 1089, Sorbas (‘Surba’) was cited by Abd Aallah as a Castle whose ownership was disputed between Al-Mutamid and Al-Mutarin de Almería. In the neighborhood of Las Alfarerías, you can see an Arab furnace still in operation.
After the Al-Andalus period, Sorbas was conquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1488. The conditions of the Capitulations were harsh and coexistence between Christians and Moors became increasingly rare. During the Christmas of 1568, the Moorish uprising began and spread like wildfire throughout the Kingdom of Granada. After the contest under the Orders of Don Juan of Austria, the Moors were expelled from the kingdom. The repopulation was carried out by 50 neighbours from surrounding communities, including Jaén, Linares, Toledo and Cazorla. All were provided with the housing and land that the Moors had been forced to abandon. The municipality went on to be the capital of the Señorío of Marqués del Carpio.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María
The church was built on the site of a former mosque. Inside, it has three sixteenth-century Mudejar-style naves separated by pillars, on which half-point arches rest. The eighteenth-century Baroque chapel was designed by architect Francisco Ruiz Garrido between 1765-1768, due to the need to expand the temple. The High Altar was decorated by a majestic Baroque-Rococo altarpiece (1771) by the master Francisco Gonzálvez. Today, an exact copy is being made based on the original eighteenth-century plans. The main façade was funded by local Antonio Martinez Romera. The nineteenth-century tower has neo-baroque decoration, notably the four openings around the bells, the clockface and the four saints that flank the corners: San Pedro, San Pablo, San Roque and San José. The magnificent church is located on Plaza de la Constitución.
The current Town Hall is composed of two buildings; the hall itself was built in 1893, and the annexed stately building known as Casa de la Cámara Agraria in the same century. Both can be found on Plaza de Constitución.
Casa del Duque de Alba
The eighteenth-century Neoclassical style Palace belonged to the Dukes of Alba and the Lords of Sorbas and Lubrín . The three-storey building stands out for its sheer size. Inside, the central courtyard is a highlight. The palace is also situated on Plaza de Constitución.
Ermita de San Roque
This is a small church located in the Alfarerías neighbourhood. Its construction dates to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Its architecture is extremely simple, with hardly any decoration, and it is located on Calle San Roque.
This is the only Arab oven that is preserved, although it is assumed that there would once have been more than thirty, due to the number of families dedicated to pottery. The temperature is regulated by covering or opening the chimneys on the roof. The oven is still operational, fulfilling its primitive function, and be visited on Calle el Olivo.
Museo de la Lana
The museum is nestled in an old wool and flour factory, in the heart of the Alfarerías neighborhood. It explains the effects of industrialization on Andalusian municipalities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This project connects ethnographic and ethnological research with so-called ‘industrial archeology’. The museum was inaugurated on August 20, 2004. The wool factory which houses it was founded in 1915 by Miguel García de los Bayona Abad with machinery from the Belgian firm Hougges Teston de Verviers, which was bought in England. The museum is located on Calle Huerto.
Thursday - Tuesday, 11:00-13:30hrs
Price: Free Entrance
Tel: 950 364 476
Among the web of steep, narrow streets in Arabic style, there are various viewpoints - Porche, Castillo, Calvario and Torreta - from which one can look at and contemplate the ‘hanging’ houses and the beautiful environment that surrounds them.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Fátima
This is a small hermitage located on the N-340 road, just below the one known as Afa. It is a very small, simple building where the Virgin of Fatima is venerated.
Aula Museo de Geología de La Cuenca de Sorbas
The Museum of Geology shows the geological processes that have taken place in the Sorbas Basin over millions of years, and is located on Plaza Los Alías, Cariatiz.
Friday - Wednesday, 10:30-13:30hrs and 17:00-20:00hrs
Tel: 950 364 481
Karst en Yesos de Sorbas
The karst formation in Yesos de Sorbas is the most important of its kind in Europe and a must-see for lovers of caving. Occupying a semi-deserted enclave of more than 2,000 hectares lies the Natural Karst Terrain, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Sorbas. This is no wonder, as it is the best example of a karst rock formation in Spain and one of the most important in Europe. This geological jewel, a product of rainwater falling over thousands of years, has many caves, including its biggest, El Agua; its deepest, Covadura; and Tesoro and Yesos, considered the most beautiful. To explore them and study their stalactites, stalagmites and gypsum crystals of different colours and forms, visitors are advised to join a guided tour organized by the Centro de Visitantes Los Yesares, located on Calle Terraplén.
Summer, Daily, Básica routes leave on the hour from 10:00hrs.
Summer, Daily, Combinada routes leave at 10:00hrs and 16:00hrs.
Summer, Daily, Técnica routes leave at 10:00hrs and 16:00hrs.
Winter, Daily, Básica routes leave every two hours from 10:00hrs.
Winter, Daily, Combinada routes leave at 10:00hrs and 16:00hrs.
Winter, Daily, Técnica routes leave at 10:00hrs and 16:00hrs.
Price: varies depending on route. http://www.cuevasdesorbas.com/es/precios.htm
Tel: 950 364 704
HOTELS & ACCOMMODATION
Due to the number of visitors coming to the Yesos de Sorbas, an increasing number of hotels and hostels are starting to appear in the area. There are not many options in Sobras itself, however, there are more than enough in the surrounding countryside to accommodate visitors.
This guest house is situated in Sorbas town. It offers a 24-hour reception and air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, TV and a private balcony. Hostal Sorbas' bar-restaurant serves traditional regional food, specialising in grilled meats.
Featuring free WiFi and an on-site bar, Hostal El Arrecife is located 9 km from Sorbas in the Almerian countryside. Each simply decorated air-conditioned room comes with a wardrobe, TV and tiled floor.
In the areas surrounding the town centre lie the most interesting enclaves called La Mela and Cariatiz, where caves with rock paintings can be found. There is also a signposted route called Los Molinos del Río Agua, which is ideal for hiking fanatics.
Those who enjoy traditional arts and crafts will love the Alfarería neighbourhood, also called Las Cantarerías. These streets are lined with studios making ceramic pieces, among them the typical earthenware pitcher made in the shape of a rooster. Pieces made from straw and tin can also be found.
In addition to the delicious cold meats, those who want to taste the local delicacies of Sorbas should try cocido de trigo (wheat stew), gurullos con conejo (gurullo pasta with rabbit), caldo pimentón (pepper soup), migas (fried bread with meat), ajo colorao (garlic soup) and ajo blanco (almond and garlic soup). Sweet treats include roscos (aniseed biscuits), tortas de chicharrones (pork scratching cakes), buñuelos (fritters), piñonates (pine nuts pastries) and turron (almond nougat).
Popular festivals in Sorbas include Semana Santa, Romería de San Isidro and Día de San Roque. More>