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Vélez Rubio

© Michelle Chaplow The frand entrace to Velez Rubio
The grand entrance to Velez Rubio

VÉLEZ RUBIO

By Saskia Mier

Vélez Rubio is the capital of the Los Vélez district, which is dominated by the Sierra María-Los Vélez Natural Park. It has been declared an official Place of Cultural Interest due to its historical heritage and is a very popular destination for tourists. It has about 6555 inhabitants.

HISTORY

The town’s current location dates from the late fifteenth century and is due to the abandonment of the old city located on a hill to the south called Castellón.   Although no specific Upper Paleolithic sites have been found, the settlement of this area has been known since this time. From the Neolithic period there is the Cerro de Los López site, with the existence of cabins, pottery and tools. There are also local deposits from the Copper and Bronze Age. More>   

THINGS TO SEE

Iglesia de la Encarnación
The church is an important architectural example of the final evolution from Baroque to Neoclassical. The Baroque architectural elements predominate over other decorative details from later times. The Churches construction began on March 25, 1754 on the site of the previous Mudejar style temple of San Pedro, from the beginning of the sixteenth century, which suffered significant damage in the earthquakes of 1724 and 1751.

The new church was commissioned by the X Marqués de los Vélez, Antonio María Álvarez de Toledo, to the Hieronymite Monk Pedro de San Agustín, as project manager. Following his designs, Francisco Fernández made the main façade, flanked by two square towers that reach 37 meters in height and topped by octagonal bodies. Finally, the temple was inaugurated in 1769. The interior has a rectangular floor plan divided into three naves with a large dome, where the five Altarpieces stand out and among them the one of the Presbytery, which is the work of Francisco Antonio de Testa made between 1770 and 1774. The organ is made of red pine wood by the French organ builder, Guillermo D´Enoyer, and is undoubtedly the most interesting and best preserved historical instrument in the province of Almería and also the largest of those that are preserved made by D´Enoyer. Located in Plaza de la Encarnación.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen
The church can be considered the oldest building in the town, which was an important milestone within its heritage, at the same time that it was a great economic effort, since it was paid for by the Hermandad del Carmen (Brotherhood). Built in the first third of the seventeenth century, 1617, it is a singular work within the artistic achievements of the province. Located on Carrera del Carmen.

Hospital Real
The civil building houses the Velezano Miguel Guirao Regional Museum and the Vélez Rubio Municipal Tourism Office. The building was built in 1765 and from the early years of the nineteenth century it was the subject of a hectic and eventful life, as it served successively as a center of occupation for French troops and a hospital for the poor in 1822. Ceded to the local militia, it was managed as a maternity home, barracks, school, theater and academy. In 1887 it served as an asylum until the 60s of the twentieth century. After different architectural interventions, it was subsequently restored between 1988 and 1991 by a Workshop School to make it the headquarters of the current Miguel Guirao Regional Museum. Located on Carrera del Carmen.

Miguel Guirao Archaeological Museum
The museum’s holdings are made up of a collection of several thousand pieces from various archaeological sites in the southeast and mainly from the Comarca de los Vélez and other materials of diverse origin such as lithic pieces from the Sahara and numerous objects of ethnological interest. The funds come mostly from the donation of the Guirao Collection. There are also pieces from archaeological excavations and other donations from individuals. The collection, which is presented in chronological order, is completed with a sample of Vélez ethnography.

Located on Carrera del Carmen 27.
Opening Times:
Summer, Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00-14:00 hrs and 17:00-20:00 hrs
Summer, Sunday, 10:00-14:00 hrs
Winter, Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00-14:00 hrs and 16:00-19:00 hrs
Winter, Sunday, 10:00-14:00 hrs
Price: 1 euro
Tel: 696 79 58 72

Ayuntamiento
The Town Hall was built in 1732 and restored between 1991 and 1993, incorporating then Baroque elements on the façade and some later ones associated with modernist reforms carried out in 1909, with few original features. Located in Plaza de la Encarnación.

Palacio de las Catequistas
Formerly the home of the Administrador del Marqués, the building dates back to the eighteenth century and was refurbished as a church at the end of the nineteenth century.

Convento de María Inmaculada
An outstanding seventeenth century construction for the headquarters of a Community of Franciscans. It was the headquarters of the French in the War of Independence. After the monks were cloistered in 1835, it was dismantled and deteriorated until, at the end of the nineteenth century, it was re-established with a community of Claretian nuns. In successive restorations, especially in 1880, it underwent profound modifications and reforms. Located in Plaza Puertas del Convento.

Iglesia de San José
Previously the grain store of the Marquis, the building was later converted into a temple around 1888. At present it has been converted into a municipal exhibition hall and a multipurpose space. The church responds to the typical scheme of the Order of Carmelites. Located on Carrera del Mercado.

THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE

Cueva de los Letras and Cueva del Gabor – Caves
The UNESCO World Heritage listed pre-historic caves and paintings called Cueva de Los Letreros and La Cueva del Gabar, are situated 3 km north of the town.

Torre del Charche
Also known as, Torre Chacón, the medieval Islamic tower was built as a watchtower, perfectly situated high on a hill. Located 2km south of Vélez Rubio.

Castillo El Castellón
There are certain confusions whether this castle was linked to Vélez Blanco or Rubio, since the Arab authors cite only, Vélez. In the tenth century it was certainly inhabited and there are descriptions of it the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was conquered by the Christians in 1488. In 1520 the Catholic Monarchs forced the castle’s  population to descend and form the current town.  Located 1 km south of the town. GPS 37.63745  -2.08084   

There are some castle structures remaining to see including an interior water cistern.

The castle was made up of two spaces, one in the upper area, in a rectangular shape, with towers in three of its corners, and its angles oriented to the four compass points. A large masonry tower dominates the complex, behind which there is a cistern with a slightly banked barrel vault. The other space contains a smaller rectangular cistern covered with a groin vault. Access to the citadel was by a ramp through a tower-door. The thickening of the wall, typical of the Nasrid period, show openings cut in the plaster exposing the stone masonry.  These are different from others found, so it could be they are a later modifications.

The path to the summit of Castellón (signposted Paraje de Ginte) is steep but well worth the climb for the stunning views from the summit. The total walk is about 10km return. From Velez, cross the motorway and skirt round the east if the hill and climb by footpath from the back. Wikilock Route

NATURAL AREAS

Parque Natural Sierra María-Los Vélez
Designated a natural park in 1987, the Sierra María-Los Vélez occupies the eastern end of the Cordillera Subbética in the north of Almeria province. It covers 22,670ha, a landscape of impressive contrasts, with 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 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.

GASTRONOMY

When visiting Vélez Rubio, try dishes such as potaje de trigo (wheat stew), olla gitana (bean stew), remojón de pimiento seco (orange, cod and pepper salad), potaje de calabaza (pumpkin stew), gurullos con conejo (rabbit pasta stew) and asado de cordero (roast lamb). Sweet treats include roscos fritos (dougnuts), leche frita (fried custard), arroz con leche (rice pudding) and tortas de naranja (orange biscuits).

FESTIVALS

Popular festivals in Vélez Rubio are Semana Santa, Cuadrillas de Ánimas, Carnival, Fiestas del Carmen and Fiestas de Agosto. More>

TOURIST OFFICE

The tourist office of Vélez Rubio is located in Miguel Guirao Archaeological Museum. More>

NEARBY PLACES

The neighbouring villages to Vélez Rubio are Vélez Blanco, Taberno, Chirivel and the border of Murcia.

Destinations