Los Velez, Almería
Prehistory and our place in reality
In the sky, the sun took a last bow as it winked out over the horizon. Its trail, left almost as an afterthought by a benevolent ruler, gradually disappeared in a haze of reds and yellows and the stars, like nervous children peering from behind the legs of their parents, began to appear in the sky, their courage increasing as light drained away down the plughole of eternity.
I watched from above the town of Velez Rubio as the changing light reflected from a deep yellow to a rose gold on the flanks of the mountains surrounding the town, just as it had done since local prehistoric inhabitants watched natural events unfolding unexplained around them. They, like us, were powerless to intercede but, unlike us, they had no reference as to the how of it all. The why of it all remains unanswered.
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The northernmost region of the Province of Almeria is known as Los Veloz. It is dominated by the Sierra María Los Velez Mountains and is an area of outstanding natural beauty that has rightly been declared a Natural Park. The region is consequently protected to a certain degree from the worst ravages of the modern-day human inhabitants.
Very different from the rest of Almeria and more so from neighbouring Murcia, Los Velez is an area that is marked by forests and rivers that make it one of the greenest in southern Spain. It has consequently been an area that has attracted human inhabitation since times immemorial.
The stamp of early man has been preserved in the form of cave paintings discovered in a cave known as the Cueva de los Letreros and which is located just north of the town of Velez Rubio. One of the most potent symbols discovered there is a human form, probably the earliest ‘stick’-form representation of human beings. This symbol, named after Saint Indaletius and now known as the Indalo, has subsequently become the symbol of the entire region of Almeria. The figure is said to represent a ghost holding a rainbow. Trouble is, it’s just a guess as no other decipherable information has been found about it.
It seems that the height of activity amongst these prehistoric peoples was around 18,000 years ago and evidence has been found in 25 sites around the region; a rich heritage of archaeological information that represents more than a third of that found in all of Andalusia.
But what is there to do in this mountainous corridor that most people just seem to pass by?
Apart from walking, hiking, biking and even mountaineering, there is ample space for kite flying and lovers of free flight with a great take-off point from the Cerro El Gabar.
There’s the caves, of course. As is only right, these have been declared part of World Heritage and there are many sites to visit including the famous Los Letreros and Ambriosio caves. From another time and another outlook on life, the grim fortress of Los Fajardo still keeps a watchful eye for unwanted invaders.
This renaissance stlye castle was built after the ‘reconquest’ and has been stunningly preserved. The many watch towers, built by the Moors when they dominated the Peninsula, still keep a vigilant outlook for another sort of unwanted invader; they, like the Moors themselves, now long gone.
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