In the heart of the Ricote Valley can be found the ancient village of Ojós, the old Oxox of unknown origin, as its roots go back to prehistoric times. In the immediate surroundings you can find the remains of an important late Roman period town that was later destroyed. The current country house was already documented by that name in 1281 along with a large fortress called the Peñas de Oxox castle. From 1285 until the middle of the nineteenth century it belonged to the Orden de Santiago, integrated in the Encomienda del Valle de Ricote.
It was a village that never had a lot of inhabitants due to the small surface area on which its houses are built, surrounded on one side by the fields which sustain it and on the other by mountainous terrain. The centre of the old town is without doubt the most picturesque of the area as it conserves in a practically unaltered state the old medieval layout with very narrow, winding streets. The village was politically dependent on Ricote and gained municipal independence in 1501 when its Muslim inhabitants converted to Catholicism, the Muslim council was replaced by a Christian one and the Muslim mosque by a parish church, which was rebuilt and expanded in later years.
To visit the area of Ojós is to discover different sensations with each step you take around different landscapes and places of interest. If we further investigate the country house, decorated with hundreds of colourful, flower-filled flower pots and plants, the visitor will be continually surprised. The visitor will find many things to see, amongst which we could highlight the stone crests of the main families, the Massa, Pérez, Marin, Melgarejo and Hoyos. In the old public washing area, the visitor will be able to see some women washing their clothes just like in the olden days whilst they chat to each other about local gossip. Don't hesitate to visit the old church of Saints Felipe and Santiago where valuable sixteenth century and later images of Patrón de la Villa, San Agustin and others can be seen. In the surrounding area, if you go for a walk, you will be able to visit the Puente Colgante, an old "Cot" restored in 1998, the fields and border areas of the Segura river. Coming back to the town via the Avenida Rio Segura, we find the cultural centre "Tomás López de Poveda", a name it bears in honour of a charitable character whose memory is engraved on two stones in a house in the Calle Mayor. You will next arrive at Plaza del Rulo where they used to process the esparto grass and then, further up the Jardín del Peñón, which boasts a faux Roman theatre.
But above all this village can boast an authentic, natural water museum, with the Ojós waterwheel, the Mayés dam, several other waterwheels, irrigation channels and ditches, the old flour mill and the materials press (the so-called "Casa de los Mazos"). You will be able to stay in several rural houses, go fishing or take photographs and, in the nearby hills, go walking and take part in other mountain sports. Don't forget to make a stop at the Salto de la Novia and get to know the medieval legend. And finally, as a last piece of advice if you can, try the famous "drunken biscuits". I'm sure that when you leave you will never forget Ojós and its people.
Luis Lisón Hernández
Official Town Chronicler