Vélez Blanco

Alcazaba in Velez Blanco. © Michelle Chaplow
Alcazaba in Velez Blanco


by Saskia Mier

Vélez Blanco is nestled at the foot of a rocky outcrop which forms part of the Sierra de María-Los Velez Natural Park and the Ruta de los Castillos (route of castles) through Andalusia. . It attracts a huge variety of visitors, from lovers of rural tourism and sports to those chasing culture and history. It has about 1,900 inhabitants.


The oldest vestiges of Iberian culture unearthed in the area date from the sixth and seventh centuries BC. The Roman occupation, lasting from the first to the fifth century AD, was characterized by a proliferation of villas throughout the district. The strategic importance of Vélez Blanco began to develop significantly during the Al-Andalus period, strengthened by the town’s advantageous position. At this time, it was known as Velad al-Abyadh. More>


Declared a National Monument in 1931, the imposing castle dominates the town’s skyline. Its construction began in 1506 by order of Pedro Fajardo, named Marquis of Los Vélez by the Catholic Monarchs. It was built in the Renaissance style to symbolise the spirit of modern times and a break with previous architectural tradition. To achieve this result, the former Arab fortress which existed on this site was almost completely destroyed and adapted to represent the interests of the new Castilian Lords. The site comprises two buildings linked by a drawbridge, which forms the entrance to the second enclosure. The first area, built over the old Moorish citadel, is a simple quadrangular fortification to accommodate artillery. The second enclosure is a fortified Palace, presided over by a keep. The Palace stands around a three-sided courtyard, a majestic work in white Macael marble, which is recognized as a sculptural gem of the Renaissance period. The original courtyard was sold in 1904, and is now exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  More>

The Town Hall is a perfect showcase of Restoration architecture; the façade of the traditional three-story scheme features five vertical axes of holes. The central hole is finished off with a cornice supported by corbels, and flaunts the the Vélez shield. (Location)

Convento de San Luis
The Convent was built by the second Marquis de los Vélez, Don Luis, and was completed, along with its accompanying church, in 1572. The façade of the church is made of ashlar stone and has a doorway between two oculi, a niche over the access door and the Vélez shield on its sides. (Location)

Ermita de la Concepción
This small sixteenth-century chapel was built on the initiative of Francisca and Mencía Fajardo, sisters of the Marquis de los Vélez, and became the funeral chapel for part of the family. It was built between 1573 and 1577 by Gabriel Ruiz Tahuste, together with the carpenters Gabriel Halcón, Juan Alonso Quevedo and Francisco Martínez. Throughout its history, it has been the Headquarters of the School of Christ, a warehouse for aromatic plants and, later, after the Restoration, an art gallery. (Location)

Iglesia de la Magdalena
Today, only a small part remains of this temple dedicated to Santa María Magdalena. The entire tower is preserved, except for the roof, and also some walls. The church was constructed using the foundations of the original mosque, which explains the diverse construction methods used in the building process. (Location)

Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol
Construction of this church began under the first Marquis de los Vélez, Don Pedro Fajardo y Chacón, as soon as works on the castle concluded in 1512. The works extended throughout the sixteenth century, and the temple was not consecrated until 1559. The temple has a rectangular floor plan and single nave with five sections separated by pillars with Gothic columns, with the side chapels located on both sides of the nave. Inside is the Cristo de la Yedra, one of the most significant images of this Almeria town. (Location)

Teatro y Ermita de San Agustín
The chapel of San Agustín is documented from the sixteenth century until its confiscation in the nineteenth century. It was restored in 1599 and 1693. The second altarpiece was built by the Lorca carpenter Melchor García in 1623, with three main paintings. After its confiscation, it was transformed into a theatre, whose income passed to the Charity Board. The current building corresponds to a work completed in 1994. (Location)


Abrigo de la Colmena and Abrigos del Maimón
The Colmenas shelter is located in the western area of the southern slope of the Maimón Chico, less than 2km from Vélez-Blanco. It consists of three caves, one of which contains ten significant cave paintings. Under the name of Abrigos del Maimón, there are nine painted shelters; Yedra, Letreros, Letreros Inferior, Molinos I, Molinos II, Panal, Hoyos I, Hoyos II and Covachas, of diverse figurative content. (Location)

Cueva de Los Letreros
This is one of the most important painted shelters in the south of the peninsula, discovered in 1861. It is 25m wide, about 6m deep and has a height that ranges in the central area between 8 and 10 metres. Its access, although steep, is facilitated by a series of zigzagging stairs. Its paintings are distributed across several panels, some located in blocks on the floor, the most important being the main panel, located on the left wall of the shelter. UNESCO states this is the largest group of rock art sites in Europe, and that it gives an exceptional image of human life in a critical phase of its development.(Location)

Cueva de Abrosio
This site is considered one of the most important for the study of the Upper Paleolithic era of the Iberian Peninsula. It is a large rocky shelter on a vertical wall more than 100m high. It was excavated for the first time in 1911 and features a Paleolithic, Epipaleolithic and Neolithic cultural sequence. On this site, during the 1992 and 1994 campaigns, a set of painted and engraved artistic parietal representations of the Upper Paleolithic era were discovered.(Location)


Sierra de María-Los Velez Natural Park
Established in 1987, the Sierra María-Los Vélez occupies the eastern end of the Cordillera Subbética in the north of Almeria province. It covers 22,670 hectares of landscape and showcases impressive natural contrasts, from its arid, moon-like plains overlooked by the Sierra’s rocky summits, which are white with snow in winter, and the dry, barren south-facing slopes all compared to 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 of 2,045m.  More>


There is a lot to do in the Natural Park; hiking enthusiasts are able to choose between different signposted routes, such as the Pinar de Alfahuara, Umbria de Maimón, Sierra Larga and Pinar de las Muelas y Hoya de Taibena. However, the best way to know what’s on offer at the park is to get in touch with the tourist office in Almacén del Trigo.

Book Hotels in Vélez-Blanco

Casas Demi

Situated in Vélez Blanco in the Andalucía region, Casas Demi has a balcony and garden views. This property offers access to a terrace and free private parking. The pool features a pool bar and mountain views.


Visitors wanting to sample the very best of the local cuisine should try migas de harina (fried breadcrumbs with chorizo and bacon), as well as the gurullos con liebre o perdiz (pasta stew with hare or partridge). Sweets include bilbaos (brioche buns) and mantecados dormidos (lard and almond cakes made at Christmas).


Popular festivals in Vélez Blanco are Semana Santa, Fiesta de Agosto, Feria Medieval and San Isidro. More>


The tourist office of Vélez Blanco is located in the Oficina Municipal de Turismo. More>


The neighbouring villages to Vélez Blanco are María, Vélez Rubio and the region of Murcia.