THE FIRST SETTLEMENTS
The rivers that cross Calasparra facilitated numerous prehistoric settlements and the development of the Iberian culture from the 5th century BC. Many archeological ruins have been discovered in strategic places. The highlights of these are Los Abrigos del Pozo (la Cueva de los Monigotes) and the archeological sites at The Castle, the “Virgin´s Hill” (Cerro de la Virgen), Terratremo and the Cabezo de las Juntas (point where the rivers meet).
The Romans settled in Calasparra from 206 BC during the Carthaginian occupation attracted by metals and the land. During this era there was an expansion of agricultural exploitation. There remain important traces of the occupation in the countryside such as “Casica Valero,” the Altos of Valentín, and the excavations at Gilico.
From the Arab era (8th – 13th centuries) Calasparra began to acquire something like a population. The castle was built and an agricultural settlement was established at Villa Vieja.
BETWEEN THE ARABS AND THE CHRISTIANS
With the advance of the Christian reconquest Calasparra became the frontier land between the Castilian kingdom and Granada. Raids by both bands dictated their terrority which passed from Christian hands or Arab ones depending on the results of the fierce fighting. In 1289, Sancho IV of Castilla gave Calasparra Castle to the Order of St John of the Hospital, who kept it under their control until the XIX century favouring the beginning of a stable social and political organisation. During the XV century the Order repopulated Calasparra with Christian inhabitants.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE MODERN AGE
The XVI century was an era of expansion, thanks to the end of the war with Granada and the increase in the population which caused an important social and economic peak.
In the XVII and XVIII centuries the evolution of Calasparra was similar to that of the Murcia region, although there were some peculiarities due to the the town belonging to the Order of St John. The base for its development was the surrounding fertile land and the benign climate. Vegetables, fruit, corn and barley, silk and rice were the main crops. The mountainside provided hunting, wood, logs and esparto grass. They also exploited the salt mines at Quipar and the excavations of sulphur. But in the mid XVIII century there was a slowing up of progress due to the War of the Succession when clear social differences provoked fighting.
The beginning of the XIX century was marked by the effects of the Spanish War of Independence due to the passage of the armies to and from Andalusia. In mid century Calasparra ceased to belong to the Order of St John. Oligarchies and tyrants fought for political control and the high cost of living forced the lower classes to resort to emigration or banditary.
Despite emigration to Algeria, Catalunia and France and the effects of the Civil War, Calasparra recovered economically in the XX century thanks to the industral revolution in fruit conservation, services and the expansión of tourism. The work of the illustrious architect, Emilio Pérez Piñero, brought fame to Calasparra in the second half of the century as did the certifícate of Denominación de Origen for Calasparra rice gained in 1982.
Relevant historic events:
On June 9, 1289, Sancho IV gave Calasparra Castle to the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
In 1300, Jaime II conceded the Castle to Rodrigo of Vizcaya, the attorney general.
1412 – 1414: The repopulation and the restribution of Calasparra, which was the apparent base for the apparition of socially stable organisation.
On November 16, 1982, the Ministry of Agriculture, conceded the Denominación de Origen to Calasparra Rice: the first rice in the world to obtain this recognition.