Culture and Heritage

  1. Religious buildings
  2. Civil buildings
  3. Remains and Archaeological sites
  4. Popular and Vernacular elements

Religious buildings

Parish Church of the Inmaculada Concepción

The construction sequence of this building and the rich patrimony treasured is true reflection of the history of our town in their last five centuries. The parish of Santa Maria of the the Encarnación de Adra, erected in 1501, belonged to the Diocese of Granada until 1957. Its first Church, one of the seven raised in Las Alpujarras before 1530, was just a nave covered with armor and a tower at the foot.

The population increase that occurs with seine fishing and the introduction of the cultivation of sugar cane, caused that in 1591 the Archbishop Pedro de Castro decided its widening, completed in 1599, which consisted of attaching a counter-reformer conception header to the Church. The covers were made, to avoid burning in case of an attack, with brick vaults and roofs.

The attack of a Turkish-Berberic fleet in 1620 confirmed the worst fears: the Church was looted and burned. But the Archbishop Galcerán Albanell went immediately to his qualms and decreed that a parapet should be made "to ensure people who ascend to the top of the church to be safe from of the Moors". The project, executed between 1621 and 1623, consisted of two window sills, one that surrounded the vaults of the arms of the transept and chancel, and other ochavado on the crossing, with two loopholes on each side. With this intervention, the church acquired the shape of a fortress.

In the second half of the 18th century a further enlargement was undertaken through the demolition of the primitive Church and the construction of three current ships. The chancel, as well as the sacristy, was augmented in depth at the time a new tower was erected in the header.

At the beginning of the 19th century el camarín de la Inmaculada Concepción was built, the new Patroness Saint of the parish, from the 16th century enjoyed great devotion in Adra, and rebuilt the Tower collapsed by earthquakes in 1804. Subsequent interventions, until the restoration started at the end of the last century, didn’t change its appearance.

Hermitage of San Sebastián

It was built in honor of the saint patron, protector against the plague. It is on the southern slope of the "Monte Christo", site of the ancient Abdera; this place still preserves part of a fish salting factory from Roman times.

It is known that in 1591 the roof was broken, which makes us suspect that it existed before the Moorish rebellion in 1568. Its rebuilding in 1680 coincides with the end of the epidemic plague, that ravaged Adra the previous year.

The Hermitage was extended and rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century. At the same time, the priest Jose Valverde Carreño, who was Granadian chaplain and counter of Sacromonte, placed many Roman tombstones along the front, with some traces recorded from the walls and attributed to St. Tesifón. Besides replacing these marks, he also changed their origin: in 1794, Castañeda Godoy notes that the Apostle Santiago stamped his soles in this stone, "perhaps to leave us unmistakable sign of his coming."

Under the vestiges there is a Latin inscription with text of St. Paul (Romans, 10-15) and Isaiah: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

Relaying on the reputation of the archaeological remains of Abdera, they attempted to legitimize the tradition of the landing of Santiago and apostolic men in our town. The authentic and fake tombstones, placed together, served to confirm the authenticity of a glorious sacred past.

In 1941, the hermitage was restored by Abderitans ship-owners and fishermen. So, most of those headstones were moved to the Archaelogical Museum of Almeria. As in many other cases, the devotion to St. Sebastian was displaced by a Marian image. Nowadays, the main altarpiece is dominated by the image of the Virgen del Mar, Adra patroness.

Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias. La Alquería

The most outstanding monument is the Parish Church of La Alquería, dedicated to Nuestra Señora de las Angustias. It was founded long ago as a Muslim mosque, and was converted to Christianity, becoming a church devoted to Santa María until the middle of the 18th century. It was burned in 1570 by the Moors and, as a consequence of the damage, it had to be rebuilt in the 18th century with the help of Salmerón family.

Hermitage of San Isidro (18th century). Barranco de Almerin.

Civil buildings

Military Architecture

Remains of the walled enclosure of Adra

This fortified enclosure was built by order of the Queen Juana in 1505, although its final conclusion lasted several decades as a part of the control and defense policy of the coast of the Kingdom of Granada impelled by the Catholic Monarchs. Its purpose was to defend the coastline, the new Christian frontier after the conquest of Granada. It was gradually populated by moving people from the interior to the coast and stimulating the settlement of old Christians by means of tax privileges.

During the 16th and 17th centuries Adra was the target of the Berber and Turkish piracy, and resisted numerous assaults and pillage from these walls.

Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in the Monument category, the wall was restored by the Department of Culture of the Regional Government of Andalusia in 2008.

Adra, key to La Alpujarra

The walled enclosure had an irregular hexagonal floor, with a perimeter of 475 meters, four round turrets and three rectangular ones reinforcing the corners.

The architectural solutions for active defence are specified in a walkway bordered by a brick parapet with loopholes, which crowns the entire perimeter, and loopholes in the lower part of the wall and the towers. It had two doors: the so called “Puerta del Mar”, defended by a low wall or ravelin to avoid being brought down by artillery coming from the sea; and the “Puerta de Tierra”, situated on the “Plaza Vieja” (today Plaza Ortiz de Villajos) and defended by a tower.

The castle, with rectangular floor and impressive 15 meters high walls, highlights within the enclosure. It had a parade ground and an artillery platform to install 10 or 12 cannons. The Torre del Homenaje, called the Macho, was equipped with a drawbridge.

Fortified enclosure and prison

The sedimentary deposits from the river moved seawater away from the wall and it was declared useless by the government in 1833 as it wasn't suited to the range of the cannons. His last role was as a prison and, finally, as a quarry for building materials. Its demolition was authorized in 1853.

During the 16th century it became a prison, that is, a permanent quartering of troops which prevented the landings of North African pirates. This "walled and gated prison" resisted the attacks led by Aben Humeya and, in the summer of 1569, was the headquarters of the impressive army of the Marquis de los Vélez as well as the starting point of his last and decisive campaign against the rebels.

However, this military device could not prevent the sacking of Adra by a Berber-Turkish fleet on 14 October 1620. The survivors took cover in the Torre del Homenaje, and the next day, the relief militias from the neighboring populations forced the attackers to re-embark. In the Parish Church, which was also burnt, a parapet with a series of loopholes was built on the covers of the head so that residents could defend themselves.

Vela Tower

The sedimentary deposits from the river moved seawater away from the wall and it was declared useless by the government in 1833 as it wasn't suited to the range of the cannons. His last role was as a prison and, finally, as a quarry for building materials. Its demolition was authorized in 1853.

Olvera Tower

This is one of the towers of the wall, whose primary objective was the defence of the town. It was owned by one of the leading families of the abderitana oligarchy in the mid-seventeenth century, just like the disappeared “Cubo de la Alcántara”. Its factory is made of limestone masonry with lime mortar, alternating with boulders and slate stones, and it still preserves the vaulted chamber and a loophole that defended the northern corner of the walled enclosure.

Watchtower of Guainos

After the Reconquest, the Catholic Monarchs began to fortify the coast and ordered to raise watchtowers. Some of these towers still remain, being perhaps the Tower of Guainos the oldest one.

This is a representative sample of the Moorish-Castilian defense system, whose task was to protect the coastline of the Barbary piracy.

Bomb shelters

From the beginning of Civil War on July 18, 1936, and until its end in March 1939, Adra was in the area controlled by the Popular Front. Initially, Adra was a rear guard zone, far from the line of the fighting, but not outside the war actions zone.

The capitulation of Málaga, and almost the whole of the Granadian coast on February 8, in 1937, moved the front line to only 38 km. from our town. Adra suffered an aerial attack that led to many deaths just one day before the occupation of Malaga. This tragic event led to the construction of many bomb shelters throughout the city centre.

The construction of public shelters was promoted by local authorities, and advised by military technicians. They created a Passive Defence Local Committee, which, within other functions, raised money among neighbours for the work. The work was lengthened. On July 2, 1938, the workers' organizations asked the City Council for collaboration to speed up the works, with a purpose to provide protection to the civilian population, and also to raise their spirits.

This shelter, situated on the Plaza Vieja, is a gallery, excavated in shale rock, with U-shaped plan, two entrances, and 96 m. long and 1, 5-2 m. width and height. As a defensive measure, the gallery, narrow and low in the first few meters, makes a double bend, to avoid that, in case of an explosion at the entrance, the blast and shrapnel could reach refugees inside.

Although the testimonies about a second attack are contradictory, the truth is that aerial alarms were very frequent. The population stopped coming to shelters for fear of overcrowding and lack of hygiene in them, which could cause infections and contagions.

Industrial Architecture

Lead smelting factory San Andrés

From 1820, the Sierra de Gádor met the extensive exploitation of its rich deposits of lead. The most important industries were concentrated in Adra, which was the point of shipment of metal destined for the European market. In 1822 the Rein House and CIA pioneer built a foundry in Adra. Two years later English furnaces fed with coal were introduced, and in 1827 the 2nd steam engine in Spain was installed. In this factory, which was the first lead smelter in the Peninsula, pellets, plates and tubes were produced.

After its collapse as a result of the drop in the price of lead, in 1837 it was bought by the merchant Manuel Agustín Heredia, who gave it the most advanced metallurgical technology of the time, and expanded the production process by introducing the manufacture of bullets, white lead, and minium.

In the 1840s he started to obtain silver from the ore brought from Sierra Almagrera.

The decline of this factory and the foundries dedicated to the benefit of the Alpujarras lead in general, has as main cause in the depletion of the mines, whose production was slowly descending from 1840, until its almost total paralysis in the early 20th century.

This industrial complex, whose surface exceeded the 4 hectares, has been preserved: the Tower of pellets, intended for the manufacture of pellets from molten lead, which dropped to its base; the Fabriquilla of vinegar, the ancient laboratory, which receives its name for being vinegar liquid used for the furnaces of the silver from argentiferous lead; part of the flue gas condensing Chamber; and the Tower of smoke.

Tower of the pellets

This monument belongs to the lead smelter factory “San Andrés”, founded in 1822. The factory was falling into decline as of 1840 due to the exhaustion of the lead mines of Sierra de Gádor, whose production fell gradually until its halting in the early 20th century.

This industrial complex was composed of the Tower of the pellets, the Vinegar Factory and the Smoke Tower. The first one was intended to the manufacture of lead in four varieties: bars, sheets, tubes and pellets. The pellets were obtained from molten lead, which dropped to a small water basin placed at the base of the tower from a height of 44 meters. Under the tower there are air-raid shelters which were made taking advantage of the underground connections of the factory.

The remote location of the Torre del Humo sought to prevent the inhalation of fume with metal particles from the furnaces, which could cause the disease known as "emplomamiento".

Sugar factory

The sugar factory, considered one of the most important monuments in Adra, is the last vestige of cultivation and processing of sugarcane on the plain of Adra, as it has been rightly restored for its conservation and enhancement, not just to keep alive a past of economic splendor for the city and its inhabitants, but for the use and enjoyment of its historical facilities.

The sugar industry has involved a great boost to economy in Adra since the middle of the 16th century and especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. Several sugar mills and factories have developed their transforming and production activity in different strategic points of the town. In 1909 the company "Azucarera de Adra" was created, which started operating in 1910; but the change that was taking place gradually in the agricultural sector and the fall in sugarcane prices caused a decline in sugar production. In 1972 the last sugar factory in Adra closed its doors definitively.

The machinery and equipment of this factory were transferred to a sugar factory in Badajoz. The deterioration of the buildings in the 1970s and 1980s was evident, as during the month of January 1986 the roof of the main nave collapsed, falling part of the main facade.

On 11 August 2003 the project of creation of the Workshop School "José Oliva IV" was carried out. The adoption of this project by the Municipal Corporation of Adra supposed the restoration and rehabilitation of the Alcoholera of the former Sugar Company of Adra S.A. as a business center.

In 2009, the Alcoholera became a business center after being restored and rehabilitated; in addition, the Workshop School "José Oliva IV" carried out the restoration of the buildings that still remained in the old sugar factory (chimneys, warehouses, workshops, etc). The restoration and rehabilitation of them is a good example of conservation and search for a new use for this type of architecture, as it currently houses the Municipal Business Incubator in which the Brandy winery and the garden of Mediterranean cultures are located.

Local Mill

Known as Local Mill because of its location, it was originally located at the eastern side of the hill of Monte Cristo, next to the old riverbed. The property of Dona Maria Teresa Gnecco Costa, in 1752 the Ensenada Cadaser noted that "it ground with stone and river water." A decade later the Mill suffered damage from a flood. And another one destroyed it at the beginning of the 19th century.

So Mr. AgustÍn Beltrán-Moreno Serraso, Motril perpetual alderman, and his wife, Mrs Manuela de Trell Gnecco, decided to build the new mill in a place protected from floods. They began to build it in 1814, but a juridical dispute with Don Pedro Angel del Trell complicated its completion. In 1815, Pedro Angel demanded his sister to make her recognize, that both - the canal and the arc through which flowed the waters that fed the mill, had been built on his lands. Finally, in 1817, they came to an agreement and Mr Pedro Ángel agreed to let the water pass to the newly constructed mill.

It has three buckets and, the uncovered rafts against its front show us that it could grind the wheat in abundance. Before closing (in the 1970s), it worked with electricity and ground almost exclusively corn. The heirs of the last miller, Dolores Ruiz Guillén, sold the Mill to the City of Adra.

The Mill was rehabilitated by the School Factory of José Oliva V. It houses the ethnographic section of Adra Museum. In the upper rooms it develops Cereal cycle, while downstairs there are different traditional crafts, among them the harness.

In its garden we can find carobs, whose wood was used to make some parts of the mill; the tropical "banana of the country" and sugar cane, which was the most important crop of the Vega of Adra since the end of the 16th century and until the mid of the 20th century.

Sea's Door Square

This square has its name because it was the main entrance to the old walled town Adra, that was built in the first half of the. XVI for defensive purposes. To protect it from artillery shelling from the sea, there was a low outgoing wall or ravelin in this place. There the Real Street began, and it ended in the parochial church.

In order to protect the population from invasions and epidemics, on the vault of this door there was a tribune, also called chapel, hermitage and public oratory, with Marian`s image, La Virgen del Populo (The patroness of the town), called since 1620 called "de la mar" (Virgin from the sea). At the end of 17th century and beginning of 18th century several chaplaincies were built in this tribune, so people could attend the mass from the street, "because many poor people don’t attend the mass every Sunday, for not being decent to access the church."

In 1753 the Brotherhood of the N ª S ª del Mar was built. It was constructed by fishermen and sailors, who assumed the obligation to provide A sailor per boat for this work. They celebrated their feast, on September 8, with fireworks and parades.

The square acquired its final shape in 1884, after the purchase of several lands, and is bounded on the south by the main street of Adra, Natalio Rivas street. In 1937 they built the City ConcilBulding, which previously was located in the Plaza Vieja.

The Old Square

Since 1930 it is officially called Plaza del Maestro Angel Ortiz of Villajos Cano, in honour of the distinguished composer born in one of the houses that surround it. He updated the Andalusian music and introduced the Charleston in Spain. This public space was formed as a result of the union of two small squares (de la Villa – an intramural square, and the square of Casas Consistoriales) located near each other and separated by the wall of la Puerta Alta (the High Door), also called Puerta del Campo or Puerta de Tierra.

In 1865, these two squares merged to form a single one, due to the demolition of one house attached to the wall. You can still see part of it in the yard of the Day Centre for the Elderly, that replaced the old City Hall.

In 1853 the Queen Elizabeth II granted the September fair. And with a view to placing fairground stalls they began the expansion of the square. They constructed a wall at the expense of Miguel Chacon and Duran, who got the title of Conde de Chacon (the Count of Chacón) in 1870, whose home was in the vicinity.

In 1890, because of water leaks, the wall fell down. Its reconstruction was completed in 1895, and it was done in accordance with a project of the Abderian engineer Emilio Gomez Fernandez. Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, this place showed the civil, military and religious power by its architecture: the chapter house, castle and the hermitage of Santa Lucia, respectively. Plaza Vieja also contained a fish market, until in the middle of 20-th century it moved to its present place.

The feast of St. Mark, the patron of farmers, is declared of Cultural Interest. This celebration blesses the Vega of Adra from the balcony and it takes place every spring.

Stately Architecture

Stately homes

During the Old Regime, some families reached titles of nobility and the economic wealth. It was reflected in the architectural style of their homes. All of them had their houses inside the city walls, but, during the 18th century, as the New Town grew up, there were built many new residences were built outside the walls.

In our region, the stately house differs from the others by its bigger size, by the use of roof and, especially, by a distribution of rooms around a central yard (patio) with columns, with access through a doorway from the outside.

In the vicinity of the Plaza de San Sebastian, in those days there was a crossroads situated on the edge of urban space. The Gneccos, a rich family of merchants and from Genoa owners, that came to Adra in 1717 and built two "main houses" . One of them is known as a “the house with three balconies” is situated in the Rambla del Zarzal, and it was built by order of Dona Maria Teresa Gnecco Costa before 1744. The facade stands out by its prominent eaves of wooden corbels, in grenadine style.

The other building, popularly called "Dona Blanca`s house", has no roof since the last century and, like the previous one, holds a family blazon on the door, to show their social standing. After a long fight with the council of Adra, who refused to recognize their noble condition, in 1775 the Gneccos got the letter of nobility.

At the beginning of Estrella Street, which in The Modern Period was a very busy road between La Puerta Alta (The High Gate) and the hermitage de las Animas, you can find the house of the Marquis de Valdecañas. In the last decades of 19th century was a residence of this noble from Malaga married Matilde Alvarez Moya, a heiress of the First Count of Chacón. The yard and the façade of this house suffered many changes, but it still preserves the staircase, covered with a beautiful dome on scallops, that gives a religious character to this space.

Remains and archaeological sites

Archaeological site “Cerro de Montecristo”

The archaeologicaI site “Cerro de Montecristo” has been declared Patrimony of Cultural Interest, the greatest protection figure contemplated in the Law of Andalusian Historic Heritage. It is a natural elevation of 49,38 meters above sea level where the population of Adra settled down.

Numerous book reviews make reference to it: Estrabon mentions Abdera when he describes the Mediterranean southern coast, clarifying that it is a Phoenician foundation, like Sexi (Almuñecar). Similarly, P. Mela and Plinto refer to Abdera, along with other cities of the southern coast of Spain.

There have been different archaeological interventions in the Cerro de Montecristo since the 18th century. During the course of the excavation directed by the archaeologist Fernandez Miranda in 1970, some structures of the Punic period were found, whose chronology approached the 4th century B.C, as well as materials and remains of the Roman Republican Age, mainly salting rafts.

In 1986 a new archaeological excavation revealed the archaeological potential of the site and, on this basis, an older phase of Phoenician occupation was documented.

Popular and Vernacular elements

  1. Religious buildings
  2. Civil buildings
  3. Remains and Archaeological sites
  4. Popular and Vernacular elements