Totana Town is a modern town today, in continuous expansion and development, but we cannot forget that its current reality is the result of the intense modelled it has had by the people who have built it along its busy and long history.
About its origins, we have some data about important human settlement, where now it is town centre, from the beginning of the third millennium BC to 1900 B.C. (“Calcolitico” Period). The remains which were found at Santa Lucia Peak, where now it is the Municipal Centre of Culture, date that period. Among the finds, pointing out some plain ceramics, a bell-shaped fragment, several lithic material, some remains of copper and some pieces of polished ceramic, all those pieces are at the Archaeological Museum of Murcia.
We also know that during the late Bronze period, there were some settlements in our town, the found remains at “Las Cabezuelas” belong to that period and they were studied by Maria Milagros Ros. According to the teacher Pedro Martinez Cavero, as he told in his book “Aproximación a
During the Iberian Period and after, during Roman and Islamic rule, Totana was occupied by human settlements, as the found remains show (at the Archaeological Museum of Lorca there are Iberian materials from that site and also there are some Islamic materials), what make us suggest the continuity of Totana settlement, above all at “Castillo” Neighbourhood and “Las Cabezuelas”.
The news collected by local writers and epigraphy, are the main arguments, we have today, in order to value the importance of Roman Settlement: Up to now we have the testimonies which talked about ceramic and mosaics at Presbítero Martínez Romero Street, amphora at Encomineda Street, etc. Regarding with it, the local historian, José María Munuera y Abadía, speaks about the existence of baths at Mayor Sevilla Street, which consisted on rectangular-shaped pool made of : “… rich alabaster and others made of fine mortar, with a ladder to go down the pool… Also it was found some bricks, 56, 42, and
The same author speaks about the discovery of some walls at Torreones Street (Sevilla Neighbourhood), some remains of a lead foundry at Don Luis Street in Castillo Neighbourhood, where also metallic bars, amphora and coins were found.
Moreover, the said historian makes us know the sculpture of a woman at Mayor Sevilla Street “…sculpted on white marble delicately, sent to Barcelona to be studied, … it was studied by intelligent people who stated that wonderful masterpiece was the portrait of a concrete person and not an ideal type…”.
According to Martinez Cavero, other important element of Totana’s Roman remains, is the settlement at “Las Cabezuelas”, where some fragments of “sigillata” from the first century BC were found, so we could see a progressive movement of the population to the Roman settlement in Totana. According to the professor Lillo Carpio, the crisis of “Las Cabezuelas”: “… marked the end and the definitive exodus during the transition of the 2nd and 1st century BC, what, related to the appearance of some Iberian-Roman materials dated from the end of the Republican and Imperial Roman Period in some places of the plain area, as which now is urban as the vineyards that surround Totana town today, make us think in a movement to lower lands…”.
In the previous said book by Martinez Cavero, it is stated that the change of Age and centrury, the first after Christ, is well- documented in Totana, since the thousand-year-old monastery (817 after Christ) and the grave of “Fabato” belong to that period. The grave of “Mystico” is dated at the end of the 2nd century or at the beginning of the 3rd century. The same professor has documented recently a Roman piece of painted ceramic from indigene tradition, which appeared at San Antonio Street. In October, 1996, the remains of a Roman building were discovered at General Varela Street.
Totana’s Roman Settlement was followed by a period of dark centuries (from the 4th to the 10th), there are a little data about them, but little by little some gaps are being completed, although not enough, to have a total vision of it. In general, it seems that during the period from the 5th century to the 7th , Roman traditions were kept, also it notices the continuity of rural way of life.
Everybody knows that the Muslim Invasion in Spain took place in 711 and then, in 713, it was signed the famous “Tratado de Capitulacion” (Capitulation Agreement) between Abd al - Azid and Teodomiro, the Lord of Orihuela. About that, the professor Garcia Anton has a suggestive theory, which identifies Totana with one of the seven towns which participated in the said agreement. According to the writing of Al-Udri, the towns are: Orihuela, Mula, Lorca, Balantala, Alicante, Iyih ( Ello) and Elche. The Balantala of that agreement could be Tawtana, which appears in another text of Al-Udri. That hypothesis is based on some geographic arguments linked to the Roman remains in Totana.
Being or not being Totana on of the towns included in the Agreement of Tudmir, what it is true is that there are a little data about local Muslim remains. At the Archaeological Museum of Lorca there are three vessels coming form “Las Cabezuelas”, dated between the 11th and the 12th century; in Totana, there are also some meaningful place names such as “El cabecico de
The location of Totana, a league from Aledo, on a slope between Sierra Espuña and Guadalentil Valley, had better conditions for human settlement: a plain place from where the valley was dominated and also the communication roads which went to Levante, Andalucia and Castilla
According to the book “Totana. Una Ciudad del quinientos” by Maria Griñan Montealegre, “… its open village character, for commercial movement in the middle of the triangle Murcia-Cartagena-Lorca, its easy accessibility, and without any defence, made that during the 14th and 15th century was attacked by Muslims and pirates, so it is sure that, in spite of its favourable conditions for agriculture…that exploitation was not continued, remaining practically empty from the war crisis at the end of the Reconquest, which coincided with the “depopulation” until the first years of the 16th century. So, we can speak about a reduce number of houses around the two most important places: the tavern, like a commercial place, located next to the “Rambla” and the Real Road to Murcia-Lorca, and the Hermitage of Santiago, at the bottom of the road, an important place for believers who went down from Aledo to work in agriculture or attracted by the commercial activity around the Tavern…”.
After the Peace Treaty in Granada (1492) was established a new socio-political order in that place, that meant several changes that had influence on the growth of Totana, against the detriment of Aledo village.
To such a point, that in the second decade of the 16th century, Totana had more inhabitants than Aledo, and its hegemony was being consolidated on the municipal lands. The first attempts to get its hegemony, were shown during the rebellion when Totana rose up against the King and his local representatives (Concejo de Aledo), even, to get their aspiration they joined to the rest of uprising movements of the Kingdom of Murcia, so in August, 1520, Totana joined the rebels, rising up more than 200 neighbours who “with flags, drums and weapons” besieged Aledo’s Castle, and came into it making the Mayor go away, and capturing a lot of people, who were loyal to Carlos the fifth, putting them down humiliations, and who were taken their lands out, “ producing a big racket and disturbance at the streets and squares”. That rebellion was stifled as in the rest of regions and the leaders were condemned to death penalty, and to lose their properties in 1523. The aptitude of Totana’s people about that event is the first testimony of that something was changing regarding with local power between both of two places and it gives us a clue about an important fact: Totana had more inhabitants than Aledo, and above all by the rich people who had the power and who supported that rebellion in Totana like a way to get, in the case of wining, the capital of the town or to join it, both possibilities were good. The hopes were shattered with the failure of the rebellion, but not the development of a new town which were being created and its inhabitants increasing as well as its services.
According to the professor Griñan, on the 1st of February, 1518, it is brought a barber for Aledo with the condition that each fortnight went down Totana, that was kept until 1543.
On the 7th of Augusts, 1520, two bakers were established in Aledo, one for its service and another for the poor area of Totana, and on the 23rd of August, 1525, Fernando Romera was hired, as a baker, in Totana’s houses.
In February, 1546, Franciso Gonzalez, a master of bricks and tiles, was moved to Totana, that shows the development of the poor area. On the 6th of June, a teacher was hired, for Aledo and its poor area, Totana.
On the 11th of March, 1550, an organist and a piper were hired for Totana.
In September, 1561, there were 3 or 4 tailors in Totana, and on the 4th of June, 1566, Juan Garre, a pharmacist from Lorca, moved to Totana. In 1572, Totana counted on some cart makers and a master of wheels. The settlement of those trades in the new town shows, on one hand, the increasing of inhabitants, and on the other hand, the will of “Concejo de Aledo” of supporting and promoting the development of its poor area. Since, the administrative and governing bodies of that place: “Concejo” and “Encomienda” are the main beneficiaries of that development, not only institutional or corporative benefits, but also their personal properties, since they were increased, by buying new properties which extended their power.
The first donations of land that have been documented in Totana, are dated in the middle of 1530, although it is possible they started before, intensifying from that date to 1570. We have to point out that the first donations were for the members of “Concejo”, so, according to the professor Griñan: “… it supposes that although there is not a concrete decision for attracting people to the valley, but a clear institutional support of conquer and occupation of the real place with an economic objective to exploit the lands. So that in the first place that “appeal policy” had an internal character on Aledo’s population, above all in aristocratic families, which are conscious of the necessity of agriculture…”.
From that facts, it is deduced that at the beginning of the 16th century, a new village was created which would get the capital of it, a very rare phenomenon, since according to Maria Griñan: “… are rare, nevertheless, the examples of new villages moved from their origin place to more favourable places”. The professors F. Chacón and Gutierrez-Cortines point out the cases of Totana and Alguazas like the only towns created “ex-novo” in Murcia… in the case of Totana, the construction of a new town, without any architectonic or morphologic strokes that marked its design; … its structure and morphology would be the result of the fusion between the model of life defined in the medieval occidental society and the necessities that planned its operation and topography. So, we could speak about a functional planning where several conditions are highlighted: its location, next to a watercourse, and its location on a border road, what turned it into a passing town…”.
The town planning of Totana has been marked by two previous determining factors: the route of roads and “Rambla de
Totana Village in 1550
Totana Village 1606
For being, both neighbourhoods, separated by a watercourse, it was frequent that in storm periods (Autumn and Spring) they stayed isolated by the violent floods, what determined that both places had and have parallel behaviour systems from their origin. Nowadays, the said “Rambla” does not the same function of those times, based on its condition of being a water source, that was why the craftworks, the butchers, the tavern, the inn, the potteries installed in their banks ( some potteries still are located there).
The streets of the new village were built according to the topography of the land, looking for a easy exit of water which tended to follow the contour lines of it. The rest of the town planning will be formed with secondary streets which link, transversally, the main ways, producing when they meet some corners and winding paths which gives the town a rare landscape full of suggestions of a legend past that the walker can image.
For being a small village, a rural economy, based on the agriculture and a little commerce, its economic resources were always limited and swung depending on the existence of good of bad harvests, and that depending of weather factors or plagues, but to that weak economic structure, Totana’s people had to add another negative circumstance, that the most of cultivable lands belonged to a little number of people (They were called “Señoritos”, rich men), together there are a group of medium and above all small owners and the rest, the most of inhabitants are hand farms with a very dark personal and labour future, since they depended on the rich men to work and eat. That social organization, chronic poverty, was wonderful to the numerous Brotherhoods that existed in the village during Modern Age, and which used the beneficence like the main way to save rich people’s souls.
The economic expectations of the village were extended with the construction of “Pozos de
That collection of the most meaningful aspects of Totana’s economy during Modern Age, is useful to state that Totana has never been a rich village, although there was a high and rich class, but the “Concejo” never had big resources, and that could have an influence in the construction of our town without any artistic and designed town planning. Regarding with it Maria Griñan said that. “…if at any moment it is detected a effort of regulation and above all a effort to make it beautiful, the motivations or justifications of ”Concejo” are shown; they were reduced to built isolated buildings, created like “elements” with its own personality, figures in the space, but without being a unit, neither having the conception of a perspective space”.
Nevertheless, from those first moments of the village, the 16th and the 17th century, there are some important buildings and elements, as they represent as their architectonic beauty, those are Santiago Church, where we have to point out San Idelfonso Chapel (the 16th century), a rare and splendid Renaissance work, one of the little ones, from that time, that are kept in Region de Murcia. The altar is a Baroque work by Antonio Caro El Viejo and the Mudejar coffered ceiling realized by Esteban Riberón. Also it is worth to highlight the rattle which had the honour of being at the exhibition Huellas (Page 398 of that catalogue) and the statue of the Priest Torres, realized in 1572. Also, we have to mention the tower, dated in 1606, and the late Baroque facade.
Also, in our town, in the historic centre you can enjoy walking through the original street planning, irregular and narrow streets which finish at a little square called “rasos”, which were built to solve the convergence of those streets, at those “rasos”, in summer, people enjoyed with the fresh air at late evening among children’s games and an entertaining talk with the neighbours until the cool at night let them to go to sleep.
A little constructions of that time are still up; the bad quality of the materials and the urban speculation, that Totana town has suffered for the last 30 or 40 years, has finished with them, but fortunately, there are three or four houses dated at that time, which have saved of that destruction. It is kept the houses Almacén and “del Moro”, both located at Alcántara Street and another at 11, Santiago Street. In general , those houses were built as following: on the ground floor there was a hall, from there they came to the warehouses, the kitchen and the patio, if it was a craftsman’s house, there was a workshop or the shop which had a exit to the main street. In the most of those houses, there was a second patio bigger than the first. There, the tools, used for working, were kept, the stables and the jails for farm animals, sometimes behind or in front of the house there was an orchard..
On the first floor there were the bedrooms and the kitchen joined to the dinning-room, where the family and private life took place.
On the floor above that, like an attic, there were the “camaras” (chambers where the harvest was kept), sometimes they were called “palacios”.
The 18th century was very important for the village, which grew quickly, thanks to the extension of cultivable lands and the improvement of its profitability due to the construction of several dams (Lebor and El Pareton), which assured the irrigation of the fields of that valley, as well as the incomes coming from the exploitation and commerce of “Pozos de
That urban development also affected to other areas of the town, such as “Cabezo de Santa Lucia” Neighbourhood (the current Barrio de los Santos), which was located at the same place as the current Municipal Centre of Culture “
That resurgence of the economy and the memory of the big epidemics of black plague that devastated the town during the previous centuries made them take advantage of that prosperity, among others, to build some hermitages at the outskirts, dedicated to the protector saints in order to round Totana with a magic and protector circle: hermitage of San Roque, San Jose’s and Santa Faz’s. The first two still kept their structures, following rural architecture’s schemes, being pointed out the volumnes of Hermitage of San Jose. Regarding with Santa Faz’s Hermitage, which doesn’t exist today, we know that it was built in 1741 about the fishmongers, then, it was sold to a particular person in 1857 due to the confiscation, then it was pulled down in the 19th century.
A work which changed completely the physiognomy of village centre and improved the quality of life of the neighbours was the construction of the fountain of the square, whose main function was to bring water to supply people from the source “
The 19th century started with a epidemic of yellow fever, in 1810 and the Independence War (1808-1813), both events reduced town’s population. In 1810 Totana had 10,020 inhabitants, in 1813 they were only 5,222. the magnitude of the epidemic produced a general panic, and Village Town had to take a firm decision, thus on the 5th of August, 1812 they agreed: “…tonight, guards will be at the streets where there are ill people to not let other people walk through them. Block off doors and windows where a person has died. Putting two men, who had suffered the epidemic the previous year, with two horses in order to take ill people to the pesthouse. Advise the neighbour’s mayor… asking if any person have some contact with people that are in the pesthouse and ask doctors and surgeons for a report, in the morning and in the evening or at any time of the day which have to include the novelties that they observe regarding with that village neighbours’ health, and it will be published an edict in order that anyone who know or watch anybody stealing at ill people’s houses can capture them or advise to impose the penalties established by the Government, being also responsible the people who cover up for them.
That sanitary catastrophe, is joined to the Independence War which run out with the economic and human resources of a society impoverished by the epidemics, the fear and the economic contributions for the war. In that situation the collective psychosis was a very important fact and the letters coming from the war were not reassuring, continuously official communiqués were received to advise the “Concejo” of a imminent danger and the news that travellers brought were also very worrying. Those letters and communiqués advised about the proximity of the powerful and devastating French army, the invaders seemed to be so near that the “Concejo” ordered the construction of a circle of defensive trenches, around the village, and the evacuation of women, children and old people towards the fortress in Aledo, the corporation also went to there in order to avoid to be captured by the enemy.
The dreaded invasion never arrived, but it was not necessary to devastate that tired, frightened and poor village, which had to bear the pain of watching those men, who had survived the epidemics, now condemned to risk their lives again, that time fighting against the invader.
Fortunately, that crisis was at the middle of that century. One of the main point of the recuperation was the big capacity of its population to regenerate themselves, and the recovery of agriculture due to the technical advances, and the introduction of the mechanic into the agrarian sector, diversifying the cultivation and extending the cultivable lands. In the North, in the current dependant villages Morti and
In the economic recovery of the village in that period we have to highlight Los Pasos Neighbourhood, around the Hermitage of Calvario, where a new access were open in
At the end of the 19th century, we were bequeathed the prision of “Partido Judicial” (the current Municipal Centre of Culture). That important building was built in the called Santa Lucia Peak, at the same place where was located, previously, the old Hermitage of the Saints Doctors. That Prision, which was started to be built in 1894, following a project of the architect Justo Millan Espinosa, who also designed the Municipal cemetery, whose construction started in 1883, following a new vision of the death, imbuing with romantic ideas which made that cemetery be a monumental place, one place for memory and melancholy.
The village continued prospering and growing due to its fertile lands and the hard work of its people. Both qualities were recognized by the King Alfonso, the 13th, by means of giving the title of town in
The Civic War in 1936 shattered the expectations, altering the peace time of Totana’s people since 1811.
During the war, the town was submerged in the war and political process that was affecting to the country, it was lived with the intensity that those kind of conflicts have, the determining family ties, the mutual knowledge which made that the confrontations typical of that moment be applied to quarrels and confrontations that were not related to the war, but which contributed to increase its cruelty and to open depth weapon.
During the period pre-war and during the war, Totana Town Council was presided by the following mayors and political parties:
From January, 1935 to the 21st of February, 1936 the Mayor was Juan Ruiz Lozano, radical ideology. Then, until the 15th of March, 1937, the Mayor was José Agustín Rivera Martí who belonged to “Unión Republicana”; from that date the presidency of the consistory is for the socialist Máximo Tudela Martínez, who went to the elections with the party UGT and governed in coalition with Unión Republicana, Partido Comunista, C.N.T. and J.S.U. After him, another socialist, Ambrosio López Carrasco who also governed in coalition. The 1st of January, 1939 Bartolomé Acosta Poveda was sworn in as mayor, until the 27th of March, 1939 ( for more information about that war, look up on the book “
There were difficult years, for losers and fro winners, although for the first ones was worse since they were condemned to live badly in a broken society, where the winners imposed their rules, believes and sometimes their “caprices”.
The new Government born from the victory had some important challenges before it: imposing its ideological, economic and social order and composing a divided town which was poor in productive resources: human and economic. From the Nation and Regional Governments Totana Town Council received orders to be compulsory followed by a population devastated by famine, malnutrition and rancour. That is the time of “campo de trabajo” (work camps) and the prison, full of political prisoners which were waiting for a sentence, a time of families waiting for them, the black market, the balls at “Casino”, charitable collections, that was the hardest moment of two realities that were destined to live under the power and the authority of one of them, the winners who took pains for imposing until the littlest details of life.
From the municipal power is regulated and ruled the participation and development of social life which affect the oldest traditions in the town. The popular festivals were the most affected by that governing rules, thus Carnival and the Holy Week suffered that interference, which acquired corrosive notes regarding with the participation in them and their formal aspects.
Years passed and the town was recovering, little by little, its habitual situation, a everyday life and citizens’ daily work, those were some circumstances that made overcome the dark crisis post-war, by means of the reestablishment of an economic structure that, although precarious, got overtake the poverty of the 40s; in the 50s that development was consolidated and promoted.
The 60s were very important for Totana Town, regarding with town planning, it was produced a development to the South, towards Juan Carlos I Avenue, at both side of General Aznar Street. In the left side, from General Muñoz Grandes Street to the south the state capital took part, through the old trade union which built affordable houses, called “casas baratas” (cheap houses). In the right side of that street, the promoters were particular people, there were single-family houses, one or two floors. Nowadays, both of those two sides present a new aspect due to the process of remodelling and reconstruction of some houses, although they have kept their height and they are still single-family houses.
Once the developed places were finished in that place, and before the artificial barrier that was the national road 340 for town development to the South, in the 70s a new place to extend the town was found, now to the West, continuing the early development of that place during the previous decade in Era Alta and Las Cabezuelas, outskirts of the town. The development of those lands was provoked by the emigration of people coming from rural places (above all from El Raiguero and small villages in Lorca) to the town. Those new buildings are single-family houses on the ground floor, following the structure of rural houses of their owners: there was a big hall to entry the house, with bedrooms at both sides, then the dinning-room, another bedroom, toilet and kitchen, and the patio which rounded the house. That patio also had or have a entry from the outside, a big door called “parador”, at the beginning that place was used to have farm animals. Nowadys, the neighbourhoods San José and Era Alta are being remodelling, following a municipal initiative, which appears in a report of the architect D. Francisco Guerao López : "Propuestas para la regeneración integral del barrio de San José", that proposes a total redesigning of that place, from some important interventions:
1st- Creation of a pedestrian cultural-craftwork axial or road, which will go from the East to the West, from that new pedestrian road some different areas would be articulated: residential area, commercial area, craftwork area.
2nd- Creation of sport and leisure time and green places.
Among the guidelines of that intervention in order to realize it, the report points out those objectives: repairs of damaged facades, making easier the acquisition of a house for young people, creating cooperatives that promote constructions in plot of lands and abandoned houses and the creation of public open places.
In the 70s another parallel migratory process took place, coming from the dependant villages
Following the intense town planning that has taken place in Totana for 50 years, and which seems to follow the scheme “each decade, a new neighbourhood”, the 80s supposed the development of a new place which broke with the traditional planning, as the buildings as the location. At the beginning of that decade the National Road 340 was crossed. That process started with the construction of the Neighbourhood Las Peras, among the same named watercourse, the road N-340, the local road 3,315 (Mula -Mazarron) and the railway Aguilas- Lorca-Murcia. The same process took place in the left side of the said local road, which originated the neighbourhood Tirol-Camilleri whose limits are the same, but to the west whose natural barriers is also another watercourse,
The kind of houses in both neighbourhoods are semidetached duplex, the result of private promotion, with the subventions, in the most cases, from National Plan of Housing.
The lack of developed land in our town, made Town Hall authorise a change of land use, elaborating a new town-planning. The partial plan “El Parral” was approved by Plenary in the session on the 22nd of March, 1984, and the result was the current Neighbourhood El Parral, to the east of the town. Architectonically, it is a mixed system, some blocks of houses (ground floor, two floors and attic) and semidetached duplex.
It is a modern-designed neighbourhood, horseshoe-shaped, with wide avenues and a big number of services and a easy communication with town centre, that is the reason why it is a very good place, above all for young couples who have chosen that zone to live.
At the end of 90s, when the lack of land for building development in el Parral was foreseen, new lands are developed,
The far-sighted action of Town hall, like a regulator body and in charge of favouring the growth of the town, has made to develop the Partial Plan “
By María del Carmen Crespo Romera.