Maria de la Salut & Ariany
There are over twenty archaeological sites, ranging from caves and naviform buildings to Talayotic settlements around the village and the best example is the walled settlement at Es Pujolet, in the fields northwest of the town. While there may have been a Roman villa in the Sa Torre de na Gil area, there were a number of farms here during Moorish period when the area was part of the Muruh district. During this period the lands were irrigated and they soon became rich farmland.
Following the conquest in 1229, the area was given to Ponç Hugh, the Count of Empúries, and he in turn divided it between two knights, creating the estates of Maria and Roqueta; Bernat de Vilanova owned the Maria estate.
Maria de la Salut estate was sold several times before it came into the hands of Ramon Safortesa's, the owner of the adjacent village of Santa Margalida known as the Evil Count. The law of the land in these feudal times meant that the Count set the rent and the tithe as well as collect taxes. He was also judge and jury over the peasants on his land. While the Count employed a mayor to enforce these obligations, the peasants were being driven deeper into poverty by the rising rents.
By the 15th Century Maria de la Salut only had a few houses around the square while the majority of farmers lived in isolated cottagers. It meant that only a few joined in when the adjacent village of Santa Margalida rose up but against the Count and they withdrew their complaints when their leader Joan Font i Roig was murdered.
The villagers built a chapel in 1592 on the high ground and an ancient figure of the Virgin Mary was worshipped inside. It was enlarged in the 18th Century into the Church of Nostra Senyora de la Salut, or Our Lady of Health, we see today. The village was given independence under the Cádiz Constitution in 1812.
The tiny village of Ariany stands on top of a hill to the southeast of Maria de la Salut. While there are around 30 prehistoric archaeological sites in the area, no Roman remains have been found. The village name stems from the name of a Moorish farm called Arian, but only the name remains.
Very little has happened in Ariany since the conquest in 1229 but Jordi de San Joan was awarded rights over the hamlet in the 15th Century. The title of Lord of Ariany passed through several families until King Felipe V awarded the title of Marquis of Ariany to Marc Antoni Cotoner i Sureda in 1717, as a reward for his support during the Wars of Spanish Succession.
The small church had been built by Pere de Vivot in 1570 and it was dedicated to the Mare de Déu de les Neus or Virgin of Snow. However, the Marquis brought an image of Mare de Déu de Atotxa from Madrid in 1744 for the villagers to worship and the church was rededicated. There are great views from the square in front of the church but the building we see today was rebuilt at the beginning of the 19th Century; it was enlarged and had a belfry added a century later.
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