“Good water and healthy air, good land for producing silk and many raisins and fermented juice”, this was La Axarquía for the 17th century writer, Henríquez de Jorquera. A land east of Málaga, extending from the division formed by the mountain ranges of Sierra Alhama, Tejeda and Almijara in the province of Granada.
Following the path of the great 14th century traveller Ibn Batuta, we penetrate into the region of La Axarquía. Its history recalls the essence of the Moorish legacy, as it was here in this region that the kingdom of Granada won its last battle from the Christians before being recaptured by the Catholic Monarchs. Leaving the Malagan beaches of El Palo and Pedregalejo behind us, we arrive at Rincón de la Victoria, a tourist spot frequented by Malagans. Coastal fishing for sardines, anchovies and other small fish, usually eaten right on the beach, has become quite popular. From here and after visiting the cave paintings at Higuerón cave, we turn off onto a local road to Macharaviaya, birthplace of the Gálvez family, conquistadors and generous patrons.
We return to the coast to get to Tor re del Mar, a very popular tourist enclave and from here, a few kilometers inland, we reach Vélez Málaga, capital of La Axarquía where the Roman Mainoba once settled. From here, we observe how the region rests on a gigantic amphitheater of more than one thousand square kilometers, a great arena of mountainous land that slopes towards the sea.
Perched on Veas hill, Vélez Málaga castle-fortress gives its name to the city whose old quarter is considered an historic-artistic complex, presided over by Santa María la Mayor, a parish church constructed in the Gothic-Mudejar style on the site of an ancient mosque.
Other noteworthy religious architecture includes the Convents of San Francisco, Las Claras and Las Carmelitas, and the Churches of San Juan Bautista, San José de la Soledad, and its famous street chapels. The most notable civil architecture includes the Casa de Cervantes and Hospital of San Marcos in the historic city center which also deserves to be discovered and admired in its own right. Vélez Málaga is the point of departure for a route which will take us on a journey through various enchanting little villages.
To the west, we will pass through Benamocarra and Benamargosa before we come to Comares situated on the crest of a mountain which preserves a typical Moorish appearance with steep narrow streets; Viñuela with archeological finds dating from Neolithic to Roman times; and Alcaucín with castle and baths. In the surroundings, we have Cutar, El Borgue and Almáchar with their wine-presses and subtropical fruits.
To the east, through the rolling countryside and between Andalusian farms, the dazzling sight of small villages with their Arab architecture await where the imprints of a Moorish past can be discovered, for example, in the minarets of Árchez and Salares or the traces of different religions in the circular cemetery of Sayalonga, the hermitage of San Sebastián in Algarrobo, and Holy Week in Riogordo. Villages where nature carves the most impressive scenery include Cómpeta with its graceful tower and multi-colored hamlet, and Canillas, among the valleys of the Vélez and Rubite rivers.
Tor rox, on the coast, was the birthplace of Caudillo Almanzor and center of the silk industry in Nasrid times, and Nerja, at the eastern border of the Costa del Sol, with its lovely town center, its beaches, and famous Dolomitic cave.
Inland from Nerja, a short distance to the north is the village of Frigiliana. Its prehistoric necropolis of Cerillo de las Sombras and the abrupt terrain, site of one of the last battles between Moors and Christians, preserves one of the purest Arab structures of La Axarquía.