Welcome to my blogs . I am a walking guide based in southern Spain.
From my travels and adventures in Spain and Africa.
I hope you enjoy them.
Andy Strange ©2023
Welcome to my blogs . I am a walking guide based in southern Spain.
From my travels and adventures in Spain and Africa.
I hope you enjoy them.
Andy Strange ©2023
Montejaque is a pueblo blanco situated at an altitude of 650 metres in the Serranía de Ronda , 138 km from Málaga , Andalucía . Its urban design bears witness to its Moorish past, with steep, narrow streets and whitewashed houses with Arabic roof tiling; a reminder that is especially evident in the upper district of the village.
The visitor cannot miss the church of Santiago el Mayor, built at the beginning of the XVI century and reformed during the XVIII century. Its main style is late Gothic, of which the tercelet vault, which covers the presbytery, has been preserved. In it is buried, after her death in 1661, Doña Jerónima, wife of local dignatary Don Miguel Mañara.
Located at 650 metres between mountains and within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, Montejaque has been an enclave of interest throughout history.
Man inhabited the Cueva del Hundidero during the Stone Age.
The Berbers built their own settlement and it became the local centre of power and communications.
The place name and etymology and spelling in Arabic for Montejaque is “Monte-Xaquez = Lost Mountain”. The “hidden town” would be a more appropriate name. The most reliable and definitively adopted current is “Munt-Šāqir” or Holy Mountain. The name Montejaque comes from Monte Sacrum.
During this time there was a medieval citadel that gave a fine view of a large part of the Serranía de Ronda.
Throughout the Arab occupation Montejaque enjoyed remarkable importance and prosperity. This construction completely disappeared, leaving only its name in the “Finca El Castillo”.
Another of the historical places of this municipality is the place known as “El Puente”, where we can still see the Roman bridge over the Rio Campobouches amongst the ancient cork trees.
As a military fortress, the village played an important defensive role in protecting the borders of the Nazari kingdom of Granada.
After the reconquest at the hands of the Catholic Monarchs, the town was handed over to the Count of Benavente, whom they named Lord of Montejaque and Benaoján, whereupon the two villages ceased to be mere districts of the town of Ronda.
Records tell us that during the revolts instigated by the moriscos (Moslem converts to Christianity) in the 16th century, the Arabic ruler of Montejaque, Mohamed Idriz, saw his life endangered by his refusal to support his rebel brothers, his attitude being rewarded after the uprising had been crushed with land and an annuity.
In the middle of the 17th century Montejaque was the summer residence of Don Miguel Mañara ( the legendary Don Juan Tenorio) and his wife Doña Jerónima Carrillo de Mendoza y Castrillo, Lady of the Mayorazgo of Montejaque and Benaoján.
Montejaque has stories to tell from the War of Independence against the French, such as the confrontation between the guerrilla fighter José Aguilar and the Napoleonic troops on the bridge over the Rio Gaduares on October 20, 1810; Men from Montejaque, Benaoján, Atajate, Cortes de la Frontera and Jimera del Líbar participated in this battle, there were only 250 men against almost 700 French soldiers, and despite the numerical inferiority they were victorious.
The lower district, with its modern streets, is home to St. James” Parish Church. The pueblo has 1000 inhabitants are called Montejaqueños/as.
Its protected natural landscapes of valleys, limestone plateaus, caves, heaths and cliffs make this environment the ideal setting for practicing adventure sports such as mountaineering, hiking, cycling, climbing and speleology. Go bird watching, landscape photography or simply sit and watch a herd of goats, sheep, deer or cows grazing, vultures gliding ; look at the arrangement of the rocks over time in a rock, see a stalactite or stalagmite in a cave and understand the time it has taken to form, or the sensations that are perceived at the top of a great cliff when looking at the mountainous horizon around.
Getting lost in the narrow streets that make up this typically Andalusian pueblo is a real pleasure, preserving the vitality of modernity, but maintaining deep roots that make us travel back in time.
Mixing with its calm inhabitants and hearing some typical stories is something that no one should miss.
Another attraction of Montejaque is its traditional cuisine that revolves around products derived from the Iberian pig together with those of the land. Olla, Tagarninas Stew, Solomillo and Chorizo in lard and sweets such as Torta de Chicharrones, homemade jams and mistela, are typical delicacies that can be tasted.
There are fine local restaurants in the village serving many of these dishes.
Andy Strange – Montejaque, 1st May 2023
Located in a high valley over 800m in the Sierra del Endrinal and dominated by the magnificent rocky outcrop known as Peñon Grande, the white mountain village of Grazalema is most popular base for visitors to the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. The park is a vast protected area of rugged limestone mountains, which are famous for being the rainiest place in Spain. These high levels of precipitation account for the amazing verdant vegetation in the surrounding countryside. The limestone peaks at over 1,600m around Grazalema are the first barriers that clouds from the Atlantic meet, causing much rainfall. A unique microclimate has developed where a wide range of flora flourishes, such as the rare Spanish fir tree (pinsapo) and wild orchids that grow in the Sierra de Pinar close to Grazalema.
Grazalema is a lively pueblo whose population of 2,250 swells hugely with the influx of visitors to the park. Its steep, cobbled streets are immaculately kept and are lined by whitewashed houses with windows covered by wrought-iron rejas and plant pots spilling over with colourful flowers. It was famously described in the 1950s by the British anthropologist Julian Pitt-Rivers in his study, People of the Sierra.
In the heart of the village is the attractive, the Plaza de España, lined with bars and restaurants. On this square is Grazalema´s central focus, the 18th-century church of La Aurora. Also there is the Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) and the parish church, the Iglesia de la Encarnación. Up Calle Mateos Gago is the 17th-century Iglesia de San José, a former Carmelite convent with paintings by a disciple of Murillo. Close to the church is a mirador that looks out across the village.
The tourist office is on Plaza de España and has information on walks, the park and local accommodation. It also sells maps and locally produced handicrafts, such as leatherwork, ceramics and blankets, as well as honey, wine and cheese. You can also find out about companies based in Grazalema that offer activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, caving, pot-holing, horse riding and guided visits.
If you’re there in summer, go for a swim in La Piscina, on the eastern edge of the village by the road to El Bosque, where there are superb panoramic views over Grazalema and the Sierras.
The pueblo was established in Moorish times by Berber settlers who discovered a similarity with the mountains of their homeland and those of the Sierra de Grazalema. They introduced sheep to graze the lush mountain pastures and produced wool for ponchos and blankets to guard against the cold , wet climate. In 1485 the Duke of Arcos conquered the Moors in Grazalema but the cottage industry of producing woollen blankets – the renowned mantas de Grazalema – continued, reaching its peak in the 17th and 19th centuries, when wealth from textile manufacturing helped to fund the construction of the village’s churches. Grazalema still has vestiges of this industry today, with one workshop still in operation making woollen blankets, rugs, ponchos and scarves, which are exported all over the world. Visit Artesanía-Textil de Grazalema, a workshop on the Ronda road where you can see looms and carding machines and buy blankets and other textiles in the shop. Other locally produced handicrafts include baskets , leatherwork and walking canes.
In October the Feria de Sangre y Amor en la Sierra celebrates the famous bandolero José María El Tempranillo, the Robin Hood of Andalucía, with a fun-filled weekend of re-enactment of the 19th century history of Grazalema.
If you want to enjoy some of the village’s best local produce visit Sabores de Grazalema, next to the bull statue.
The small store is a treasure trove of Spanish hams and other cured meats, along with fruit jams , chutneys and honey from the Sierra de Grazalema. Queso Payoyo is amongst the finest cheese in Spain from the nearby village of Villaluenga del Rosario. It is made from local goat and sheep milk.
There are many excellent bars and restaurants in Grazalema serving delicious typical local cuisine and wines.
Andy Strange – Grazalema May 4th 2023
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is an important religious celebration in Spain. It is celebrated throughout the country, and is one of the major holidays of the year. During Semana Santa, people take part in a variety of religious activities, including processions, masses, and other church services. The festival dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was first celebrated in Spain and the country was predominantly Catholic.
Today, Semana Santa is celebrated by all faiths.
During Semana Santa, many cities and towns in Spain hold processions which are led by a figure known as the Nazarene and accompanied by a band of musicians and participants who carry candles and banners. The processions usually start and end at a church where a mass is held. In addition to the processions, the municipalities hold other religious services during Semana Santa. These services include prayer vigils, masses and other religious ceremonies. Most are held in churches and are often accompanied by music and singing.
Semana Santa is a time for reflection and prayer where residents come together and acknowledge their faith and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and celebrate the richness of life.
Semana Santa programme.
The celebration of Semana Santa begins with the “Domingo de Ramos” or Palm Sunday procession. It is led by the Nazarene who is dressed in a long colourful robe and carries a cross. The procession is accompanied by a band, and the participants carry candles and banners. Other religious services take place throughout the week. On Good Friday some churches in Spain will hold a service called the “Vía Crucis,” which is a reenactment of the Passion of Jesus Christ. This service is also accompanied by music and singing. On Easter Sunday, there are processions with banners depicting the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This celebration is named the “Fiesta de la Resurrección,” and it is one of the most important and joyous parts of Semana Santa. It is also a time to celebrate the beauty and culture of Spain. Millions of people take part in these celebration each year and it is an opportunity to honour the faith that binds all.
Cómpeta is a pueblo blanco located in the Axarquía region of the province of Málaga, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. It is situated at an altitude of 638 metres in the foothills of the Sierra de Almijara mountain range with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of Morocco , which can sometimes be seen on the horizon. It is a popular tourist destination, and is home to a number of attractions, including the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción with its 30 metre tower, Ermitas San Sebastian and San Anton and the picuresque Plaza de la Almijara and Plaza de la Vendimia. Cómpeta is a charming pueblo with a rich history.
Cómpeta was first settled by the Romans in the 1st century BC, and was later occupied by the Moors in the 8th century. During the Middle Ages it was an important trading hub, and was also a major centre of Islamic culture. The village was later conquered by the Catholic Monarchs in 1487 and has remained under Spanish rule ever since. It was situated on the busy Málaga to Granada trading route through the mountains.
Cómpeta stands out with its traditional Moorish architecture which includes whitewashed houses with red-tiled roofs. It is home to a number of churches and chapels which date back to the16th century. The main plaza is a popular gathering place with shops and restaurants.
Cómpeta is famous throughout Spain for its agricultural production including moscatel wine & pasas , olive oil and honey. The pueblo is home to a number of bodegas , some of which produce some of the finest wines in Spain. The local moscatel wines have intense flavors and aromas and are often served with dishes such as tapas and paella. Bodega Jarel was chosen to supply desert wine for the King’s wedding banquet.
Cómpeta is a great place to visit for those who are looking for a relaxing holiday. There are a number of activities on offer including hiking in the mountains, cycling, horseriding and other adventure sports. There are also fine beaches on the coast nearby where visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing and water sports. The village has a number of excellent restaurants and bars where visitors can sample the delicious local cuisine and wines. Cómpeta is a beautiful pueblo blanco with a rich history and culture.
Andy Strange – Cómpeta April 2023.
Acinipo is an ancient city located near Ronda in Málaga province. It was founded in the first century BC and grew to become a prosperous city during the Roman Empire.
Today, it is a major archaeological site, with well-preserved ruins. There is evidence that suggests it was first inhabited by humans around 3000 years ago . In the 9th century BC the Phoenicians visited the city from the Malaga coastline. In the 5th century BC it was repopulated as a walled Iberian city. The Romans arrived in 206 BC.
Acinipo was initially a small military camp at an altitude of 999 metres , established by the Roman general Quintus Sertorius to protect the nearby city of Ronda. Over time, it expanded to become an important Roman city, with a population of around 10,000 people. Acinipo’s location at the foot of the Sierra de Ronda mountain range provided an ideal defensive position, and it was known for its sturdy walls and fortifications.
The city was home to several important public buildings, including a theatre, a domus or forum, thermal baths, and a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva. Wealthy citizens lived in spacious villas, with gardens, peristyles, and courtyards. The city was also home to a bustling market, where goods from all over the Roman Empire were traded. Acinipo was an important centre of commerce and culture, with a strong economy based on agriculture, fishing, and the production of olive oil, wine, and wool. It was an important stop on the Roman road network, and was connected to other cities in the region by roads and aqueducts. The city flourished and became so prosperous that it minted its own currency!
By the fourth century AD, the Roman Empire was in decline, and Acinipo was abandoned and replaced by Ronda as the main city . The Moors used the Roman theatre as a watchtower from the 8th until the 15th century.
In the 16th century the city of Acinipo was named “Ronda la Vieja”.
Acinipo was “rediscovered” in the 18th century, and since then, numerous excavations have revealed a rich history. The ruins are now a major tourist attraction, and visitors can explore the preserved remains of the city and gain an insight into the daily life of the Romans.
Visiting Acinipo is a thrilling experience, and a glimpse of the grandeur of the Roman Empire. The ruins are a vivid reminder of the city’s past, and visitors can easily imagine what life was like in the bustling ancient city.
The Roman theatre at Acinipo is one of the most impressive and well-preserved ruins in the city. The theatre was built in the first century AD, and was used for performances of plays, music, and other entertainments. It was built in the traditional Roman style, with a semi-circular seating area , an orchestra and a stage at the front. Constructed from local limestone, it is still in remarkably good condition. It started life as a quarry to produce building materials for the round protohistoric Iron Age cabins which were the first dwellings built between the 8th to 9th century BC and excavated near the visitors centre. The theatre is estimated to have had a capacity of around 2,000 people in a seating area called “cavea”, hewn from the rock, and the wooden stands above. It would have been a popular centre for the citizens of Acinipo and will have been used for performances of plays, music, and other popular entertainments. It is one of the oldest Roman theatres in Spain.
The Roman baths at Acinipo are also some of the best-preserved ruins in the city. The baths were built in the first century AD, and were used by the citizens of Acinipo for bathing and socializing. The baths were built in the traditional Roman style, with a large central pool surrounded by smaller pools, columns and changing rooms. These “thermae” were heated by burned wood by a system of hypocausts, which used hot air to heat the water. There was also a gymnasium courtyard called a “palaestra” for fitness training. It would have been decorated with mosaics and frescoes, and would have been a popular destination for citizens of Acinipo. The baths were used for both practical hygiene and social purposes, and would have been an important part of Roman life . Today, the baths are a major tourist attraction, and visitors can explore the ruins and gain an insight into the daily routines of those living there.
The forum was the social and political centre of the city, and would have been used for public debates, speeches, and religious ceremonies. The “Domus” began as a large, lordly Roman dwelling and has only been partially excavated.
Ronda is a city located in Málaga, Spain, with a long and rich Roman history. The town was first settled in the 8th century BC by the Celts, who called it Arunda. In the first century BC, the area was occupied by the Romans, who renamed the town Acinipo and developed it into a prosperous city. During the Roman Empire, Acinipo was an important commercial and cultural centre, with a population of around 10,000 people. It was an important stop on the Roman road network, and was connected to other cities in the region by roads and aqueducts.
The city also boasts several museums dedicated to its Roman history, including the Museum of Roman Art, the Museum of Roman Archaeology, and the Museum of Roman History. Visitors can also explore the city’s Roman aqueducts, which are still in use today.
The first archaeological excavations of Acinipo began in 1967 with much of the site still to be investigated.
Andy Strange – Acinipo 12th April 2023
The Arroyo de la Ventilla is a small stream located in the province of Málaga, Spain. The source begins near the town of Arriate, and flows through the countryside before joining the Guadalhorce River. It is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers, with stunning views. The Arroyo de la Ventilla is very picturesque with crystal clear water and lush vegetation on either side, lined with lush green fields, with wildflowers and trees adding splashes of colour to the landscape. The banks are dotted with clusters of golden rocks, and in the distance, the Sierra de las Nieves mountain range can be seen.
The Arroyo is home to a variety of wildlife, including fish, birds, and small mammals. It is a popular destination for fishermen, who come to try their luck at catching trout, carp, and eel . It is also favoured by hikers who explore the surrounding countryside and enjoy the stunning views. It is a beautiful and peaceful destination with something to offer everyone and is an ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Arriate is a pueblo blanco near Ronda located in the province of Málaga. It is a small, traditional town, with a population of around 3,000 people and is situated in the heart of the Sierra de las Nieves mountain range, surrounded by stunning scenery.
Arriate has a long and rich history, and was first inhabited by the Celts in the 8th century BC. The town has retained much of its traditional character, and many of the buildings in the historic town centre date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Arriate is a popular destination for hikers, with plenty of trails in the surrounding countryside. The Arroyo de la Ventilla is also a popular destination for nature lovers, with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It is also home to several churches, including the Church of San Pedro, the Church of San Juan, and the Church of San Francisco.
The traditional industry of Arriate is agriculture and the surrounding countryside is ideal for growing olives, grapes, and other crops. It is also known for its production of olive oil, wine, and wool. In addition, it is home to several small businesses, including restaurants, cafes, and shops.
Today, Arriate is a bustling tourist destination, with plenty of attractions. Visitors can explore the historic town centre, with its traditional buildings, or walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside. The town is also home to several religious festivals and events, including the Fiesta de la Candelaria in February and the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen in July.
Andy Strange – Arriate 11th April 2023.