History – February Report

Dear History Lovers,

As you know we had our trip to Velez Malaga which was oranised by Maggie with her friend Mike taking the group on a guided tour and below is Maggies report on the visit.

U3A History Group Visit to Velez Malaga

After meeting our guide, Mike, in the town centre we had a coffee then eight of us began the tour around Velez.

We’d intended to visit the Ermita – Los Remedios, a 17th century church whose walls are covered with murals of Velez life painted by a local artist, Evanissto Guerra, but due to building works it was closed.

On the way up to the Ermita, we paused for photos at the statue of the poet, Lobato, in the Plaza San Francisico who bears a passing resemblance to Harry Potter minus the broomstick!

Next on the itinerary  was the Mudejar archway, once part of a mosque, at the bottom of Calle Gloria.

It’s a beautiful example of Moorish architecture which had become part of a house and covered in plaster for many years and is almost entirely in its original state with very little restoration work.

The enthusiastic curator gave us a very thorough explanation and even translated the Arabic inscriptions.

Around the corner was the Palacio de Marquis de Beniel a 17 th century villa with a wonderful Mudejar ceiling.

The building is now used as council offices, a museum and art gallery and for receptions and other events.

The church of San Francisco was our next stop. Built in 1498, it is in the plaza of the same name. Another guide gave us a short tour of the church  which had a spectacular decorated baroque ceiling.

Around the corner was the 16th century Casa de Cervantes, now a language school where the great man lived whilst working as a tax collector in the town. The house has a typically attractive internal patio.

The church of San Juan Bautista (16th century) was a short walk away up the hill but was closed. Outside are the statues of a young boy and a priest wearing the Semana Santa costume of pointed hat and mask  The Holy Week processions in Velez, Mike told us, are well worth seeing. Further up the hill, about a ten minute walk is the Semana Santa Museum housing a display of the Tronos and other Holy week items.

In Calle Las Tiendas towards the Plaza de la Constitucion, is the original town center known by the Moors as the Medina and the Spanish as the Barrio la Villa. Here there are the remains of the defensive walls and one of the four main arched doorways to the town, the Puerta Real. From the battlements There are excellent views of the town stretching down to the sea at Torre and the north to the distant mountains.

On the way we passed several religious shrines and the 16th century fountain dedicated to Kings Felipe 2nd and Fernando.

We also passed the Carmelitas convent, now used for other events since being sold and where a choir  now meets weekly to rehearse. There are two other convents in Velez, The 16th century Las Claras and the closed order, Las Carmelitas, (opposite the Ayuntamiento.)

Possibly the oldest church in Velez is San Juan de Dios (1487) and now used as an old people’s home.

Yet another church has been converted to the Carmen Theatre. It was originally built in the 16th century.

Outside in the plaza is a statue of a famous Velez son, known as Juan Breva, a Flamenco guitarrist.

Another famous Velez resident was Maria Zambrano, a philosopher and poet who has a cultural center named after her in the town as well as the main railway station in Malaga.

By this time we were all hungry and ate tapas in an excellent bar at the end of our trip.

Thanks to Mike for an enjoyable and interesting tour.

Maggie (on behalf of Patricia.)

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