The Almanzora Valley is the “Land of Marble”, where one of the most precious products in the world is extracted for its quality and special beauty. Marble has played a key role in establishing the culture and way of life of Almeria. The municipality of Macael is the largest marble producer in Spain and the second largest in the world, where it has been used since ancient times.
The ancestral civilizations of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic began to use the white marble stones found in the rivers of the Almanzora Valley, with the purpose of making figures of idols. This is seen with the archaeological remains of the collective tombs that have been found from those times.
The arrival of the Roman towns in this territory resulted in a desire to the exploit the marble in the quarries. It was during the time of the Muslim domination that extraction reached higher levels and was done much more consistently.
All the conflicts between the Moorish and Christians negatively affected the activity of marble. It was the Christian repopulation that revived the exploitation of the stone, and once in the hands of the settlers they took on the job without restrictions.
The marble industry finished taking off in 1895 when the operation of the Almanzora railway started. This allowed for products to be distributed all throughout Spain and broke borders when reaching other European countries.
The unrestricted extraction of marble came to a close at the end of the 20th century, due to the fact that the City Council of Macael requested that the mining concessions be legalized. In 1981, the administration of the concessions fell into the hands of this government body, which is renewed every 30 years.
The quarries of Macael occupy an area of 6,192 hectares, and are located in the center of Almeria, right on the northern edge of the Sierra de los Filabres
. The mining complex consists of 124 quarries in which an approximate reserve of 40 million cubic meters of marble are stored.
All these quarries are very close to each other store different types of marble that are classified according to their color. It is a "Macael" registered trademark that consists of the following varieties:
- Macael white marble: coarse and hard grain used in construction, sculptures, tombs, sinks and crafts, among others.
- Macael Rio white marble: medium grain of white and light gray with great hardness.
- Macael Marbled River white marble: medium grain with white background and gray vein.
- Macael gray marble: slightly darker than Macael white marble and with lighter veins than Macael Anasol marble.
- Macael yellow marble: uniform light yellow with dark yellow and green veins.
- Macael Anasol marble: contains thin layers and veins of various colors, this cipolinic marble is one of the most famous in the world.
- Macael green marble: irregular texture and green color.
Visitors have the opportunity to enter the quarries thanks to the Path of Marble
, a 4.6 km route without major difficulties. This road crosses the heart of the marble industry and it is possible to observe the landscape of the Almanzora Valley and the transformation that the territory has had.
On the path is the “Yesera de los Pinaricos”, which dates back to the Moorish era, where plaster was used for different purposes. Also in those territories is a turquoise pond located in the back of the old dining rooms, which is formed between the marble walls by the filtration of water.
After a walk, the visitors arrive at the Cosentino Viewpoint, a space built on a quarry where the process of extracting the mineral is appreciated and other important quarries can be seen.
Between this viewpoint and the Canteras Viewpoint, there are rocks covered with Hematite where iron is extracted. At the end of the trail, you will arrive at the other viewpoint where you can enjoy the view of the distant quarries, along with impressive landscapes of the Almanzora Valley and the Sierra de las Estancias.