Los Vélez, known as the “Puerto Oriental de Andalucia” has always been a stepping
stone between the East and the South of the Iberian Peninsula. The area was an important
nucleus of population in prehistoric times. Its mountains, forests, springs, plains
and particularly it’s natural resources and biodiversity attracted inhabitants to
the area more than 18,000 years ago.
The oldest signs of prehistoric life are testified by the numerous archaeological
remains from Paleolithic and Neolithic times that have been excavated from the many
sites in the area, including ‘Cueva Ambrosie’, ‘Cueva del Gabar’, ‘Cerro de las Canteras’
and ‘Cuevas de los Letreros’.
These earliest cultures were followed by the Iberians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors.
The Romans built the Via Augusta, which crossed the area and was responsible for
its economic development. Signs of Roman occupation are visible all over the area
including a sculpture of Dionysus, dating from the 2nd Century A.D. which was discovered
at El Villar in Chirivel, and has now become the symbol of the village. Later the
area played a defensive role for the Moors, in the battle to stop the Christians
penetrating the kingdom of Granada.
Vélez Blanco surrendered peacefully to the Catholic Monarchs in 1488. In 1506 Don
Pedro Fajardo and Charcón first Marquis of Los Vélez and Governor of the Kingdom
of Murcia, was given the Town of Vélez Blanco as a reward for his assistance in the
suppression of the Moorish rebellions in the lands of Andalucia. He ordered the construction
of the Castillo de Fajardo, better known as Vélez Blanco Castle, to be built on the
site of a Moorish Fortress on Mount Mahimón. It became one of the most difficult
and unassailable castles in Andalucía.
The town of Vélez Rubio was later incorporated in the Marquiss Estate along with
the villages of María and Chirivel, and the four towns/villages now make up the region
of Los Vélez
Of the 79 examples of cave paintings found in the province of Almeria, 25 are in
the region of Los Vélez. The best known cave paintings, El Brujo (the wizard) and
El Indalo, named in honour of San Indalecio, who brought Catholicism to the South-Eastern
part of the Peninsula, were discovered at ‘Cuevas de los Letreros’ declared a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. The Indalo, whose Iberian name “Indal Eccius”, means messenger
of the Gods, has become the symbol of Almeria.