To the north of Valle del Almanzora, delimited to the east by Murcia, is Los Vélez, an inland region of the province of Almería. Valle del Almanzora and Los Vélez offer an escape from the Almerian coast and can be explored together.
Los Vélez comprises just four municipalities: Chirivel, Vélez Rubio, Vélez Blanco and María. It’s part of the Sierra de María-Los Vélez Natural Park and much of the region is protected.
The limestone terrain in this mountainous region has been shaped into the karst formations which are so characteristic of parts of south-eastern Spain, as well as underground cavities such as the Cueva de los Letreros in Vélez Blanco. One of the best examples of cave art in Almería, this 25-metre-wide cave is a National Historic Monument in the Spanish heritage registry and is also on the list of Mediterranean cave art declared a World Heritage Site.
Los Vélez boasts 25 of the 29 cave-painting sites in all of Andalusia. Its symbol is the Indalo, a Neolithic human with open arms and an arc above their head. The Indalo was found in the caves of Abrigo de las Colmenas and is now an icon of the province of Almería.
Mountains, history and art are what Los Vélez is all about, and its four small towns are fantastic examples of how modern life can be integrated with such a rich heritage: the impressive Renaissance Los Vélez Castle standing atop the town of Vélez Blanco; the old town in Vélez Rubio with well-preserved monuments including the Iglesia de la Encarnación (another National Historic Monument); Chirivel with its seven wonders, among them the statue of Dionysos from the 2nd century BC; and the Neolithic cave art in the Cueva de la Haza and the Cueva del Queso in María, the highest settlement in Almería at 1,200 metres.
The region of Los Vélez was the ancient domain of the marquisate of los Vélez, a noble title bestowed by Joanna of Castile to the Fajardo lineage in 1507. The noble family is known today as the Casa de los Vélez.
Los Vélez is also a fantastic hiking destination. The region has beautiful trails through the protected mountainous area of the Parque Natural de Sierra María-Los Vélez, which even has snow-capped peaks in winter.
Want to know more about the province of Almería? Check out our guides and articles.
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