Turismo Prerrománico > Phases > Hermitages > Rupestre > CASTILLEJOS DE QUINTANA


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Historic environment

Occupying a craggy hill at the northernmost end of the Sierra de Gibralmora (Pizarra), a kind of “small Bobastro” in which you can see a layout of the structures that make it up and a topography very similar to the Mesas de Villaverde . Despite its heritage significance, the Castillejos site, which occupies several hectares full of archaeological remains, has gone almost unnoticed in the scientific literature. Despite the inaccessibility conditions it offers, on a very prominent 369 m hill that overlooks the town of Álora, which it completely dominates, a double line of walls has been discovered in the last campaign. As in Bobastro, the Miocene calcarenites on which the town is built facilitate the work of the rock. In fact, the hill is completely worked on its upper platform, which is why very diverse rock structures and varied morphologies proliferate.

It is quite possible that the settlement was continuously occupied from the 7th to the 9th century, during the revolt of ʻUmar ibn Ḥafṣūn. The name given to this enclave, the true door of Bobastro, was that of Santa María.


Its main elements are:

A) The outer hermitage. On the outskirts of the town of Castillejos de Quintana and in front of the eastern access door to it, a small hermitage with a horseshoe arch apse was found in the center of a stone wall, all of it carved, which is oriented slightly to the southeast (124º). The small space for worship preserves a worked stone floor. No naves can be distinguished, but it does seem to have a double height plan. During the excavations, tiles and ceramic material could be recovered.

B) The eastern access door of the Castillejos de Quintana. On a front of the rock itself, completely carved, a horseshoe arch has been carved. It is the main access gate to the city. The carved start of the arch is preserved, where its ultra-semicircular condition can be clearly appreciated. There must have been another fortified access at the western end of the town, near the Guadalhorce plain.

C) The quarry. One of the most unique buildings in the entire high-rise town, is located in the center of the archaeological complex, which allows us to grant it an outstanding function in the set of productive activities of the enclave. Far from exhausting itself as a quarry, it preserves a narrow one-meter-high wall around which the footprint of ashlars can be seen, a good part of them with a very similar module, and steps characteristic of this type of building.

D) The necropolis. On the slope that crowns the hill occupied by the town, the necropolis is made up of about twenty tombs excavated in the rock, canonically oriented in a W-E direction and covered with flagstones and tégulas. Since all the tombs have been looted (except one, which was found covered with their flagstones and with small ceramic trousseau), they have been found without the upper covering and with very diminished trousseau: just a few ceramic containers, a buckle, and some fragments. of glass. It is a set of anthropomorphic structures in which a double typology can be observed: tombs with a single pit and tombs with a double perimeter. There are different dimensions, attributable both to the hierarchy of the deceased, on the one hand, and to their different ages, on the other.

E) The town of Los Castillejos. The proliferation of construction work of a rock nature in the Castillejos of Quintana reflects outstanding functional complexity. A good number of houses can be located (especially on its westernmost slope) excavated in the rock. In addition to the elements mentioned above (hermitage, access door, quarry, necropolis), the town has a marked residential character, since cave houses abound, carving out complete rock fronts for this. Likewise, silos are preserved to store the grain and a cistern in its westernmost sector. Despite its appearance as an isolated entity, the town maintains a fairly close link with the Guadalhorce plain, as shown by the various historical paths that led from the plain to the hill. Very close to it we find certain late-antique or early-medieval buildings (Bañadero de la Reina, hermitage of the cave church of La Fuensanta) that will have to be reassessed based on the relevance of this place.

Virgilio Martínez for URBS REGI

Other interesting information

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V. Martínez Enamorado y F. Rengel Castro, Los Castillejos de Quintana/Santa María. Un estudio histórico y arqueológico sobre una de las puertas de Bobastro (en prensa).