The Sierra Almagrera is a low mountain range only 4 kilometres wide and 12 long, that runs parallel to the coast in northeast Almeria. Silver and lead have been mined there for thousands of years. During the Phoenician and Roman periods, it was known for its rich deposits of lead. In 1839, prospectors found a rich vein of argentiferous lead at Baranco Jaroso, in the Sierra Almagrera. The find sparked a ‘Silver Fever’ that lasted until the end of the 19th century. For the lucky few, the silver rush produced riches and allowed the mine owners to build fine houses in the nearby town of Cuevas del Almanzora.
The town, with a population over 13,000 (2020) centres around the 16th century Castillo del Marqués de los Vélez, Castle of the Marquis of Velez. This Gothic fortress and palace is in a remarkable state of preservation and is still used. It houses the offices of the local police, the tourist office, the town’s archaeological museum, an exhibition centre and the Antonio Manuel Campoy Museum. Concerts are staged in the keep.
This museum is named after the gentleman who donated a collection of paintings and sculptures to the town. It now contains an extensive collection of art including over 400 works by artists such as Barcelo, Miro and Picasso. You should also visit the Goya room. Although not to everybody’s taste, the museum houses over 60 engravings by this artist and a bronze sculpture of his head.
Although small and dated, the archaeological museum is worth visiting just for its display of finds from the bronze age, Argaric site, of Fuente Alamo. It also contains interesting accounts of the original exploration of the site by Luis Siret and some of the original finds.
The Cueva museo is behind the castle, in a private house, appropriately enough, a cave dwelling. The house is laid out as it would have been back in the 16th century although this particular cave house was created in the mid 20th century. Check with the tourist office before visiting, the opening days and times displayed on the website are incorrect.
Built in 1576, ‘El Calvario’ as it is known, sits on the highest point in the town. The 20th-century statue of the Sacred Heart, overlooks the population.
The 'Palaces' were all built by wealthy families during the 19th century, a number of these grand houses can be visited. Scattered about the town the architecture can only be admired. They were considered very ‘bourgeoise’ at the time. The most notable are “Palacete de los Grano de Oro”, the “Palacete de los Toledo”, the “Palacete de los Soler” and the “Palacete de los Figuera”.
The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación is the most imposing building in Cuevas del Almanzora. It stand on the site of a mosque that was demolished during the 18th century. The current building was completed in 1762.
A few kilometres north of Cuevas del Almanzora is the Argar fortified settlement of Fuente Alamo. It dates roughly from 1900 BC to 1500 BC. The site is in the foothills of the Sierra de Almagro and, in its day, controlled the overland route into the Sierra from the Rio Almanzora valley. Today the site is overgrown and neglected but can be visited on foot. The route takes you through orange orchards and along rough paths. The coordinates for intrepid explorers are Latitude 37.343493317702 Longitude -1.860643005371.
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Nick has lived and worked in Andalucia for over 20 years. He and his partner, Julie Evans, have travelled extensively and dug deep into the history and culture, producing authoritative articles on all aspects of the region. Nick has written four books about Andalucia and writes articles for other websites and blogs.
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