Point of interest 1/4
History, monument to the Hispano-Muslim legacy
Audioguide in text
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Welcome to Purchena, we are at the foot of the Sierra de los Filabres, in the middle of the Almanzora Valley. This municipality contrasts with the rest of the villages for its landscape, full of pine forests and oaks that climb towards the mountains.
Purchena seduces you with a set of white houses and a quiet and beautiful atmosphere. It is located at the foot of an imposing Alcazaba located on a small hill that encloses an important Arab legacy in which we will enter to learn about its past and present.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
The history of this town takes us back several centuries. It is wonderful to remember the importance of Purchena for the province of Almeria, because it was the capital of the Almanzora River during the period of Al-Andalus, founded by the last emir of Cordoba, Abdalah, around 900 AD with the name of Hins Burxana.
There are also traces of the Copper Age as the necropolis of the Los Churuletes discovered in the nineteenth century, excavated by the Belgian archaeologist Luis Siret; and from the Roman period, of which some villas were found. Nor should we forget its Roman past when it was known as Illipula Magna, according to Ptolemy’s map of the second century AD.
But its true importance dates back to the Andalusi period, with such renown that it was visited by Almanzor in 985 AD. In this site stand out personalities such as poets, doctors and secretaries of the most important Almohad sultans as Abd al-Mumin.
With the Christian conquest, after the capture of Baza in 1489, Purchena, the capital of the Almanzora would be delivered with all its region, but its governor Ibrahim Abenidir decided to refuse to receive the gifts of the Catholic Monarchs and leave for Africa with his people and servants. After the surrender, power was granted to the Duchy of Medinaceli and from 1501, Purchena and the region would depend directly on the king and queen.
During the War of the Alpujarras, in 1569 Aben Humeya leads the Moorish rebellion, making Purchena its capital. During his stay in Purchena he organized a unique historical, cultural and sporting event that became, centuries later, a unique tradition that lasts to this day; a sporting, musical and cultural competition in which Moors from the former Kingdom of Granada, North Africa and even Turkish troops took part: the Moorish Games of Purchena.
After the expulsion of the Moors from the Kingdom of Granada, between 1609 and 1613, the current town was formed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries around the squares of the Constitution, Larga and Carrera Street, where agricultural landowners built beautiful manor houses with beautiful trellises, large balconies and white facades.
Purchena would emerge from a centuries-long lethargy in the second half of the 19th century with the exploitation of iron and mercury mines, the cultivation of the so-called ship’s grape and the construction of the railroad in 1890. In this century it became the Judicial seat of the Court and head of the district with a deputy in the courts, among which was the famous writer Azorín.
The Civil War and then the difficult post-war period were the forerunner of the population decline that would occur with the emigrations of the 60s and 70s, reducing the population by half. From the 1990s onwards Purchena recovered part of its former role as the administrative centre of the Alto Almanzora as the head of the Judicial District, to which must be added the profound cultural significance of the fact that since 1993 this town has been the venue for the Summer Courses of the Complutense University, and since 1997 of the University of Almeria.
Situated in the Plaza Larga, we can go to visit the oldest public library in the whole of the Alto Almanzora. In the library square we find the monument to the Hispano-Muslim legacy, a human crescent of yellow marble that serves as a sundial, the work of sculptor Julio Alfredo Egea Lopez, and a water spout, also in yellow marble.
Then we can visit the historic center of Purchena going to any of the streets that go up to the church and the Alcazaba.