My article is about the ruins of Calatalifa. I have chosen it because they are very important for Villaviciosa de Odón, my village. One of the central streets of the town and our Institute have taken their names from them.
Calatalifa comes from the Arabic Qalát al Halfa, “a castle built in brick”. Calatalifa was the name of a fortified Arab city of the 9th century founded by Abderramán III. Some archaeologists claim that Calatalifa is the fourth most important Arab city in the Community of Madrid, after Madrid, Alcalá la Vieja and Talamanca. The Villaviciosa settlement is the fourth in importance and the only one without excavating.
In the Islamic period this place was inhabited, and taking into account the archeological remains there were military population. Calatalifa was located in a strategic place.
It is believed that it was primarily a farming community that became a small town fortified city when it was conquered by the arabs. They based their economy on horticulture, fisheries andcrafts, at the same time they shared these activities with the military life of the fortress during two centuries. When the collapse of the Al-Andalus emirate in taifas, this land was within the taifa of Toledo.
The Arabs built a castle and a fortress to guard the road of Roman origin that linked Toledo and Segovia along the right bank of the Guadarrama River. However, another tradition relates that the caliph ordered to build the castle to commemorate a solar eclipse that occurred during his first visit to the place. In the fourteenth century, after being inhabited for hundreds of years, this city next to the Guadarrama was defeated by the plague and became a "sick place", which had to be fled from.
To get to the Arabic city, from Villaviciosa de Odón you have to to take the road called the pine forests that goes out to the southwest of the village, and that leads to the interior of a private property in the place called Cueva de la Mora. Next to the river, and between two ravines, are the remains of the castle and the wall.
In 1980, the first excavations were carried out in the field, located on a hill next to the River Guadarrama in the municipality of Villaviciosa de Odon. The foundations of a wall, of three meters deep, which left to imagine some walls up to 7 meters in height. Remains of dwellings were discovered, ceramics and some remains of early Christian tombs. Archaeologists said they had only discovered 1% of the city. The findings of these excavations were so important that archeologists attempted to open an archaeological museum in the town, 1n 1984.
However, excavations were suspended for lack of budget and the findings were brought to the National Archaeological Museum. A few years ago has collapsed the Aljibe and part of the wall that had been found; for this reason, many citizens of Villaviciosa de Odón have asked to return to the excavations.
In Spring , I go on excursions in the surroundings of Villaviciosa by bike and I have gone on several occasions to visit the Moorish ruins, it's exciting to think that an important arab city existed city for so many centuries.