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History of Vélez Blanco

HISTORY OF VÉLEZ BLANCO

The first local traces of the Iberian people date from the sixth and seventeenth centuries B.C. The Roman era was characterized by the proliferation of these villas through the whole area. Their occupation lasted from the first century to the fifth. In the Al-Andalus period, Vélez Blanco began to grow in importance due to its strategic position, with the name Velad al-Abyadh.

The current Vélez Blanco sits on the same site established by the Muslim population around the thirteenth century, including the Moorish citadel on which the Castillo de los Marqueses de los Vélez would later be built. The neighbourhood of La Morería constitutes the most primitive nucleus, with its stepped dwellings always having the castle as its axis. The town was surrounded by a double wall: the first wall encompassed the citadel and the mosque, with La Morería sitting between this wall and the second line.

The Nazari period saw its defensive capacity improved to reinforce the borders of the Kingdom of Granada. In the fourteenth century, it was repurposed into a fortress which was impregnable due to its strength and double set of walls. After the Christian conquest, Isabel “The Catholic Queen” gave the village to Don Pedro Fajardo in 1503. He converted it into the head of his estate. The castle was built between 1505 and 1516, with the previous Arab castle included in its plan.

After the War of the Alpujarras (1568-1570), the Moors that remained were banished from the Kingdom of Granada. Vélez Blanco remained deserted and repopulation was carried out in the year 1574, predominantly with two hundred settlers from Levante. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the new settlers were consolidated and the village was extended. Their customs and methods of cultivation took root and they changed the landscape. The nineteenth century brought about the abolition of land estates and the extension of the industrial zone with new flour mills and spinning and textile mills.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the castle was dismantled with the sale of the interior ornamentation to a French antique dealer. Today it can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The demographic decline of the second half of the century is beginning to slow down; in fact, a population increase is underway, creating a dynamic community which is looking forward to the future with anticipation.

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