The only town in the Ricote Valley that is not located on the banks of the Segura river is Ricote and like the other towns in the valley it enjoys a privileged natural environment, an eventful history and an enviable cultural and artistic heritage that has been developed over centuries. Its origins are protohistoric, as the region's archaeological finds show, and have their origins in the Bronze Age and have uninterrupted continuity through Iberians, Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and Christians until now. Even so, Ricote was first documented by the Muslims in the year 896 when mention of the Al-Sujayrat castle was recorded. In the shade of its walls, Ibn Hud rose against the Almohads in 1228 with a plan for Hispanic / Muslim rebellion against the rigorous North African kings and showed leadership that would allow him to take control of most of Muslim Spain.
In the thirteenth century the village must have had a flowering economic and cultural life as reflected in the characters of the day, amongst whom we could highlight Al-Raquiti who, after the conquest of Murcia by Alfonso X, was placed at the head of a study centre thanks to his excellent academic training in all academic disciplines and knowledge of the age. He taught Christians, Jews and Muslims in their own vernacular. Superior to Al-Raquiti was Muhammed Ibn Sabin who was also born in Ricote. As a sage and Sufi mystic with a deep cultural knowledge and spiritual life that led him to establish a new theological line within the framework of Sufi spirituality called Sabini. He was admired by Kings, Caliphates and Popes and created a school and tradition in the Ricote Valley. The Orden de Santiago decided the fate of the valley after 1285, establishing a feudal social, political and economic structure in which both of the social groups located in the valley were included: the sovereign structures of the Order and the Muslim councils and good men of the valley who decided on the fate of the Mudéjars. With their conversion at the end of the fifteenth century, the Morsico minority appeared and was active under the care of the Orden de Santiago, as well as a marked historiographic activity, having been the last remaining Moriscos expelled from Spain.
The most important part of Ricote's cultural heritage is the eighteenth century San Sebastián church, built according to the strictest guidelines of Baroque ideals and containing two fifteenth century statues of Salzillo and another of San Sebastián, whose name honours the parish, anonymous paintings from the eighteenth century, an organ donated by the Llamas family in 1743 and constructed by Joseph Meseguer, as well as several architectonic and sculptural elements which enrich and ennoble it. The 1702 Palacio de Llamas is notable for its façade, the noble staircase and the railings. The Casa de Hoyos and the Palacio de la Encomienda complete the urban make up of suggestive, winding, narrow streets that give away Ricote's medieval origin.
Dimas Ortega López
Ricote Official Chronicler