The origins of the town of Beniel date back to the 9th and 10th centuries during the arabic occupation of the Murcian area
Plaza del Ayuntamiento
Beniel is situated 18 kilometres to the east of the Region's capital, on the boundary with Alicante province. Almost all of its surface area is taken up either by irrigated land or by small towns and villages such as Beniel itself and its three smaller neighbours: El Raiguero, El Mojon and La Basca.
The origins of the town of Beniel date back to the 9th and 10th centuries during the arabic occupation of the Murcian area. Its geographical position encouraged the settlement of powerful tribes who controlled the Cora de Todmir. The Christian reconquest led to the flight of the Moslem population and the cultivated lands which lay outside the urban centres were abandoned or passed on to Mudejar owners. In 1226 after Alphonse X's effective reconquest, the land was divided up but remained unpopulated. As the town was situated in such a way that it separated the areas of Aragon and Castilia, two boundary stones were positioned there to separate the two, as ordained by a judicial ruling in 1304, but this division did not please either party and as a result border scuffles were frequent until 1320, when definite borders were drawn up.
Another dispute over the lands of this town was that which arose between farmers and cattle breeders. The former tried to mark boundaries around the lands which had been marshland and meadows in order to cultivate them. The cattleherds however did not approve of this attempt to reduce their pastureland. The dispute which arose was settled by the Catholic Kings, to the detriment of the farmers and the disputed lands were acquired by the Junteron family. At the beginning of the 17th century, Phillip II removed this estate from the jurisdiction of Murcia, which attracted new settlers. Furthermore he increased in size the largest irrigation ditch in Alquerias in order to irrigate previously uncultivated lands which also increased the number of inhabitants. At the beginning of the 18th century, at the request of Gil Francisco de Molina y Junteron the position of marquis of Beniel was granted. It was now that further work was started to dry out the existing marshlands, which in turn increased the population to double its previous number as people could make a living from both agriculture and silk manufacturing.
In 1812, the Courts at Cadiz abolished the feudal system and with this the land passed into the ownership of the tenants. During this century its growth stagnated due to the crisis in the silk market, epidemics, floods, drought and the War of Independence, all of which brought about a migratory trend towards mining cities like Cartagena. Nowadays, Beniel is still principally dedicated to agriculture but its economy is also supported by the canning industry, export companies and the service sector.
The tourist who visits this town will be able to see the famous boundary stones which are made out of limestone carved into the shape of a pyramid on a cubic base. Both landmarks are similar and originally defined the geographical boundary between Aragon and Castilia and nowadays do likewise between the Murcian and Valencian Communities. Another important monument is the church of San Bartolome (Saint Bartholomew), which dates from the 18th century and is one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in all of Murcia. During the festival of their patron saint there is a parade with floats and the "chuso" street party, during which they hand out freshly-baked bread, oil and salt.