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 Elle Draper

Museo Comarcal Velezano Miguel Guirao in Vélez-Rubio

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We visited the Museo Comarcal Velezano Miguel Guirao in Vélez-Rubio, Almería, recently and were very pleasantly surprised by the amount of information on offer.

Entrance is free – but it is well worth paying the €1 per person to have Isa explain how the museo (museum) came to be about. She will do this in English or Spanish for you. Isa (Maria Isabel) is a lovely lady and very enthusiastic about the museum and the local area.

From the moment we were warmly welcomed by Isa, who explained the layout of the museum and a bit about its history, we were entertained.

The building is described as “Our Museum is not only the history and art of its building; it is to go back in time and to remind us of our elders; of the smell of fresh bread and cheese… of the loom, of the old school… of our customs and traditions and of granny’s stew…”

The museo is laid out over several floors and is a place that celebrates the history and culture of Los Vélez, storing data, photographs and exhibits in an easy-to-follow format.

History of the museum

The museum is housed in what was formerly a hospital, built in 1765 in the Baroque style.

The main facade is made of exposed brick and bleached masonry, decorated with stepped bricks, recessed arches and a stone coat of arms.

The interior is distributed around a square courtyard with two floors. The lower floor houses eight Tuscan columns supporting arches and a porch covered with arista vaults. Above this is a gallery, whose deck rests on columns with wooden plinths.

From the beginning of the 19th century it was occupied by French troops, then used as a hospital for the poor until 1822, when it was ceded to the local militia before being used as a maternity home, barracks, school, theatre, academy and more. From 1887 it was used as an asylum until the 1960s. After several renovations, it was finally converted into a museum and opened in 1991.

The museum was created by the Ayuntamiento de Vélez-Rubio City alongside an initiative of Miguel Guirao Pérez. A 50 year old collection of archaeological, paleontological and ethnological works was donated by Professor Miguel Guirao Gea and his family. This collection has been continued by the commitment of the Council to create a centre for public viewing.

Miguel Guirao GeaMiguel Guirao Gea

Miguel Guirao Gea was born in Vélez-Rubio on July 7, 1886 and died in Granada on December 3, 1977. Most of his life was spent in that Andalusian city, although he regularly returned to visit Los Vélez. He studied medicine, becoming a family doctor and a Professor, as well as Dean of the Faculty, Vice-Rector of the University and President of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Granada.

Of his interest and knowledge in archeology, it should be noted that he was the Excavation Commissioner from the late 1950’s until the beginning of the 1980’s. He is responsible for systematic excavations of Velezan necropolis such as Castellón, Jewish, Xarea, Cahuít. He maintained a friendship and exchange of knowledge with outstanding scientists and amateurs of his time and published numerous articles in specialized magazines, which he later compiled in the volume “Prehistory and protohistory of Vélez Rubio and Vélez Blanco” (Pub. Granada 1955), later included in a volume Posthumously edited by Vélez-Rubio with the title “Notes and documents on Vélez Rubio and its Region”, in which a wide, diverse and miscellaneous literary, research and experiential production is collected.

Throughout his long life Miguel Guirao Gea received numerous tributes and acknowledgments on a professional and personal level. He was named Adoptive Son by the city of Almería and the town of Vélez-Blanco; For its part, Vélez-Rubio appointed him Favorite Son and dedicated a street in honor and gratitude to his care for Los Vélez and love for his hometown. Also bearing his name are streets in Chirivel, Vélez-Blanco, Almería and Granada.

The family wanted to call the museum the “Museo Comarcal Velezano Miguel Guirao”as an honour to him for starting the collection and, above all, to the one who infected the whole family with a love of his small land: Vélez Rubio.

Miguel Guirao Pérez

Born in Granada on December 20 1924, Miguel Guirao Pérez completed his medical career in that Faculty where after several stays in Paris, Brussels, USA and in the Nobel Institute of Stockholm, in 1956 he obtained the post of Professor of Anatomy and Anatomical Technique.

During his university career he has carried out a fruitful teaching and research work, especially in the fields of embryology and congenital pathology.

He became Professor honoris causa of the University of San Marcos in Lima, and Professor Emeritus of the UGR Recife in Brazil. He started the Faculty of Medicine of the University of La Laguna, his School of Nursing, and was the founder and first director of the Clinical Hospital of the island. He was named honorary dean of the first and was granted a Gold medal by the Cabildo of Tenerife.

As director and on behalf of the Rectorate of the University of Granada, he started the School of Stomatology (then the Faculty of Dentistry). In 1974 he was appointed president of the Diputación and, shortly after, deputy of the Spanish Cortes.

At that time he dedicated his main effort to strengthen the cultural benefits of the institution and to improve the living conditions of mentally handicapped. In his extensive and varied work he has obtained many different recognitions.

After his retirement he was in charge of setting up the Open Classroom of Open Training created by the University with the collaboration of the Ministry of Social Affairs, with programs for seniors, pioneering in the Almería region and in Spain. President of Honor of OFECUM, he was its founder in 1998.

The museum exhibits

The museum’s collections are made up of several thousand pieces from various archaeological sites in southeastern Spain, mainly from the region of Vélez and other materials of diverse origin such as lytic pieces of the Sahara and numerous objects of ethnological interest. Most of the items come from the donation of the Guirao Gea Collection. There are also pieces from archaeological excavations and other private donations.

The collection, which is presented chronologically, explains the evolution of species, physical environment, prehistory, colonization and the Iberian world, Roman and Muslim Hispania and the medieval period: Muslim and Christian. It is completed with a sample of Vélezana ethnography.

You can find out more about the cave paintings of Cuevas de los Letreras here also

You will need your Spanish dictionary if you wish to read the information accompanying the exhibits… but it’s not essential as many of the items on display speak for themselves.

Finding / Contacting the museum

Opening hours:

  • Winter timetable (October 1 to June 30): Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm; On Sundays from 10am to 2pm.
  • Summer timetable (July 1 to September 30): Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm; On Sundays from 10am to 2pm.

Time sensitive note

2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Sierra Maria Los Vélez becoming a Natural Park. To celebrate this, the museum is giving a presentation from 10am until 12:30pm on February 17 2017.

Sierra Maria Los Vélez presentation

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