Friday, November 7, 2008

An Ancient Gem in the Sierra de Ubrique

Many people researching Ubrique on the internet might find a quaint little town with white-washed buildings situated in a small valley surrounded by mountains and natural parks. Perhaps they might see that Ubrique has a history of a booming leather industry, and has an abundance of leather shops and factories where people all over the world come to buy their leather goods. Aside from an hour or two of shopping and walking through the town center, most people would assume there is not much else to do here. Ubrique is by no means a tourist destination (which is why I absolutely LOVE it), but we do get the occassional load of tourists who come for the day to shop, and then promptly return to the bus station to catch the next bus out of town. I can't help but think what they are missing out on. Anyone who thinks Ubrique is lacking in the entertainment/things-to-do arena is sadly mistaking.

Every Wednesday, a group of teachers from Las Cumbres (a bilingual institute -- or the equivalent of a middle-high school in the US) set out for a hike. And every week, its a new location. This past Wednesday's hike took me to one of Ubrique's most amazing secrets. Only about an hours hike (and vertical climb...) from the center of Ubrique, in Salto de la Mora, lie the ruins of the ancient town of Ocuris, a strategic Roman settlement that dates back to the 2nd century. After numerous battles throughout history, between Romans, Celts, and Muslims, the town was eventually abandoned after the Barbarian invasions. Abandoned, but not lost. It remains one of the most well preserved ancient Roman settlements in all of Andalucia - and I had the fortune to hike up to the ruins last Wednesday afternoon. There are several different ruins spread out over the mountain - various homes, bathing stations, and other buildings; however, the most impressive and well preserved building is the Columbario Mausoleum, or the site where the dead were cremated. The site is simply awe-inspiring.

It is absolutely amazing to be living in Ubrique, so close to thousands of years of history. And only an hours walk away, I can visit the ruins at my leisure. Situated at the top of the mountain, you have views of all Ubrique, and of the closest town (Benaocaz), and if you sit still for just a few minutes, you will quickly find yourself surrounded by dozens of goats. Its granduer is simply unexplainable, but the ancient city of Ocuris is definitely one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. ...If only the tourists passing through knew what they were missing out on. But then again, perhaps that is part of its splendor - its our own little gem and well-kept secret.

1 comment:

Debakamom said...

How fortunate you are that the people of Ubrique have shared their friendship and the beauty of their town and surrounding area with you. To walk the same paths of those who lived and worked near and in Ubrique centuries ago must be a natural high! I can certainly understand why the people of Ubrique would prefer not to have tourist spoil the beauty and peacefulness of the areas. It is wonderful to see the pictures and imagine the way of life; I hope that it will continue to be a well kept secret to be shared only with those that can truly respect and appreciate the rich history and beauty of Ubrique and its surrounding area. What a treasure!