What to do and what to see in Yunquera

The municipality of Yunquera is located in the west of the province of Málaga, it belongs to the Sierra de las Nieves region and extends from the Peñón de los Enamorados (The Lovers' Rock) and the Tajo de la Caina (Caina's Sheer Drop) to the Grande River and Jorox River make them one.

Yunquera has an extension of 55 km² and limits to the northwest with the municipality of El Burgo, to the northeast with a small part of Casarabonela, to the east with Alozaina, to the south with Tolox, and to the west with the municipality of Ronda.

The entire municipality of Yunquera is a protected area as a Sierra de las Nieves World Natural Reserve and, in addition, part of it is within the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. In its lands, one of the largest and best-preserved Spanish fir forests in the world are preserved, which is why Yunquera is known as the paradise of the Spanish fir.

Yunquera town is located on a kind of depression between Sierra Cabrilla and Sierra de las Nieves, at an altitude of 681 meters and 61 kilometers from the Málaga city. It inherits its Arab past from white houses and narrow streets, adorned with flowers.

History of Yunquera

Its name, Yunquera, derives from the Roman term Juncaria, which means "reed meadow", which gives an idea of the abundance of water that was in these lands. This, along with being in one of the steps that allows you to cross the mountains of the Serranía de Ronda, suggests that the municipality of Yunquera was a place frequented by prehistoric man, as shown by the site of the Jorox River valley in the municipality of Alozaina.

The Romans established a stable settlement in Yunquera divided between farmhouses and rest villas.

For their part, the Arabs designed pipes to take advantage of the flow that came from the mountain springs to irrigate a series of orchards in Yunquera. This agricultural tradition has not changed in the essential, as can still be seen today in the cultivation areas of the valleys of Grande River and Jorox River. They built a fortress, a beacon tower and Yunquera town itself, in its distribution with narrow streets, is due to its influence.

Half a kilometer from Yunquera town is the Mora Hermitage, which represents one of the few memories of its Arab past. This hermitage formerly communicated through a tunnel with the castle located in the upper part of Yunquera.

Yunquera was conquered by Christian troops in May 1485, repopulating the town in the middle of the 16th century with families from Estepa. With the need for expansion of cultivation areas, the neighboring municipalities of Tolox, El Burgo and Alozaina, were forced to give up part of their land proportionally so that the municipality of Yunquera was formed.

Today, Yunquera's economy is mainly based on agriculture with crops of fruit trees, olive trees and chestnut trees, as well as potatoes, corn and vegetables.

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What to see in Yunquera

Yunquera's cultural heritage is made up of a series of constructions from different centuries, showing the transition that this town has undergone throughout its history.

From the Arab era, as mentioned in history, 500 meters from Yunquera town you will find the Mora Hermitage. It is thought that it communicated with the castle through a tunnel. The remains that remain today correspond to those of a baroque-style Christian hermitage or sanctuary from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Also from the Arab period in Yunquera, you will see the so-called Yunquera Tower. A tower that served as a lookout to warn of the possible advance of enemy troops. It was remodeled between 1808 and 1812, and served as a watchtower for Spanish troops during the Independence War. It has been declared a Cultural Interest Asset in Spanish Historical Heritage and currently has a museum, a viewpoint and is the headquarters of the Yunquera Astronomical Observatory.

Going to the Christian era, thirty years after the reconquest, in 1505, the Parish Church of the Incarnation was built on what was the old fortress of Yunquera. It is known as the Mountain Range Cathedral and is the largest temple in the entire Sierra de las Nieves region. It has three naves and in the dome of the cruise you will be surprised by a relief decoration. Inside it houses the images of the St. Sebastián Nazarene, from the 18th century, the Virgin of the Rosary and the Virgin of the Health and Hope, among others. It is baroque in style and was renovated in the 18th century.

By the hamlet around the Parish Church of the Incarnation there are vestiges of the old walls. The entrance to Seminarista Duarte Street from Agua Street, preserves the original layout of one of the entrance doors, mentioned in the Implements and Departments Book of the 16th century.

Going a little further in time, in the 18th century the Hermitage of Our Lady of Porticate was built in Yunquera. One of its architectural curiosities is the dome, which is painted in the Rococo style. It was remodeled in 1929.

From the same 18th century on Pablo Picasso Street, you can see the Hermitage of the Calvary or Hermitage of the Virgin of the Carmel. This hermitage has a rectangular floor plan covered with wooden armor and inside it holds the images of the Virgin of the Carmel with the Child, the Immaculate Conception and the Christ of the Cross of the Poor. Formerly it was on the outskirts of the town, but with the growth of Yunquera it has been gradually integrated into it.

Already in the 19th century the Train Station Neighborhood was formed in Yunquera with houses built with identical design and architecture. In this area there are many houses with baroque doorways from the 17th-18th centuries. Its popular architecture is of great cultural, ethnological and historical interest.

Next to the Yunquera cemetery you will see the Hermitage of the Cross of the Poor, built in the 19th century and which houses the image of the Christ of the Cross of the Poor. This image is the protagonist of the Good Friday procession, in which the men make the way for the saint and the women the way back.

Other monument that may be of interest to you within the heritage of Yunquera is the St. Pascual Hydroelectric Power Plant.

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What to do in Yunquera

The municipality of Yunquera contains a natural environment influenced by its integration to the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, approximately half of the municipality. However, before starting to explore the natural environment of Yunquera, it is necessary to finish with what you can find in the town.

To finish your cultural training within Yunquera, you can visit the Francisco Sola House Museum, located on Calvario Street. It is a palace house of baroque architecture, from the 17th and 18th centuries, which has a heraldic shield and houses a museum with a collection of paintings of some twenty paintings made using oil paintings, canvas and panel techniques. In addition, this space includes the Tourist Information Office where you can learn more about the routes, monuments and history of Yunquera.

Once you know everything about Yunquera town, it is time for you to get to know its natural environment. This, because the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park covers half of the municipality, makes the villa completely full of country houses and hotels where you can stay.

The Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park is the most important natural place of Yunquera, with a great abundance of Spanish firs that completes one of the largest concentrations of Spanish firs in the world, 1050 hectares. Within the environment are several important elevations, such as the Peñón de Ronda (Ronda's Rock) and the Peñón de los Enamorados, as well as mountain passes widely visited by tourists, such as Puerto Saucillo (Saucillo Refuge).

There are a number of enclaves that are important to visit in Yunquera, such as the Tajo de la Caina, a large limestone escarpment that is located above the Cuesta de los Hornillos (Hornillos' Hill) valley. In addition, you can visit the Snow Wells of Yunquera. These wells are located in Puerto de los Ventisqueros (Ventisqueros' Refuge) at 1,600 meters of altitude and in winter they were used to store and provide ice to the entire province of Málaga.

On the other hand, you can see other natural places such as the Zarrazolones Valley and Sierra Cabrilla.

In order to visit all these places, Yunquera has different hiking routes that will take you to different points in the municipality where you can enjoy a different landscape depending on the route you choose to take.

In Los Arbolitos Recreational Area begins the Yunquera - Spring of Grande River Trail. A linear trail of 4.4 km, low difficulty and one hour long, which will take you along rural paths with terraces on the sides, where you will be able to appreciate almond trees, vineyards, cherry trees, olive trees, citrus trees and orchards, and where you will be able to appreciate the Grande River valley and the Guadalhorce valley. Following this route and passing through the Manguán Fountain and the Trojilar Fountain, you will reach the spring of Grande River, also known as the “Surgencia de Zarzalones”. This place is one of the most striking in Yunquera, since the water comes from a deep cave in Sierra de las Nieves which contains underground galleries that have not yet been explored by humans.

The Yunquera - Los Sauces SL-A 141 Trail runs along the northeast slope of Sierra de las Nieves. This route starts from Yunquera town and is made up of 8.3 km of linear route, with medium difficulty and a approximate duration of three and a half hours. At the beginning you will go through areas of olive groves and vineyards, but you will quickly go through the repopulation pine forests, among which the Aleppo pine and the resin pine stand out, and so on until you reach the Los Sauces Recreational Area where the route ends.

The Caucón - Peñón de los Enamorados Trail will allow you to discover three ecosystems of high ecological value, the Spanish firs, the high mountain gall oaks and the rupicolous bird community, starting from the Luis Ceballos Viewpoint and passing through the Puerto de la Perra (Dog's Refuge) and the Puerto de las Boas (Boas' Refuge). This is a route of 4.2 km of circular route, medium difficulty and one hour and fifty of duration, which runs through a relief between abrupt and flat.

From Yunquera town, there is a beautiful route that will take you to see the Spanish firs and the Tajo de la Caina, passing through the Luis Ceballos Viewpoint. This is the Caucón - Tajo de la Caina Trail and has the same technical characteristics as the previous one, 4.2 km of circular route, medium difficulty and an hour and fifty of approximate duration.

A route with high difficulty is the Puerto Saucillo - Torrecilla PR-A 351 Trail. This is a 9.4 km linear route with an estimated duration of four hours that runs along a stony path with a steep drop. From the Yunquera lane you can reach the Puerto Saucillo Viewpoint, from where, passing Puerto del Cuco (Cuckoo's Refuge), you can reach the Torrecilla. On your tour you will be able to appreciate all the types of existing plant formations, from the scrub areas in the lowest part, to the high mountain meadows dotted with ancient gall oaks.

The Puerto Saucillo - Puerto Bellina Trail also starts at the Puerto Saucillo Viewpoint, this time with low difficulty. The route is made up of 4.2 km of circular route and one hour and a half long. This trail will take you to discover part of the famous Spanish firs of Yunquera, but you will also be able to appreciate pine forests, chestnut trees and cedars. This route passes alongside the Snow Wells and, with luck, you will see any Spanish ibex.

There are other routes to go from the municipality of Yunquera to other nearby municipalities. One of these routes is the Yunquera - Los Sauces - El Burgo GR-243 Trail, with 23.75 km of linear route, medium-high difficulty and seven and a half hours of estimated time. This trail that starts in Yunquera town, will take you to El Burgo town passing through Puerto Saucillo and the northern slope of Sierra de las Nieves, allowing you to discover the repopulation pine forests found in these areas, where the resin pine and Aleppo pine stand out. At the end of the route you will pass through an area of olive groves with mountainous relief.

To end the hiking routes, stage 3 of the GR-243 passes through Yunquera, linking the municipalities of Yunquera and Tolox. The Yunquera - Tolox GR-243 Trail runs along a path of hills, Mediterranean forest and valleys with orchards and citrus trees, with the company of Grande River and the reeds around it. Its difficulty is low and in the approximate three hours that it will take you to walk the 8.6 km that the trail has, this linear path will pass through places such as the St. Pascual Hydroelectric Power Plant or the Loma de Pola (Pola's Hill).

On the other hand, Yunquera is a meeting point for practicing nature activities such as hiking, climbing, horseback riding, caving, 4x4 circuits, mountain bike tours and balloon flights.

One of the most important sport events in the province of Málaga is in Yunquera, the so-called Pinsapo Trail. It has been held since 2011 and is one of the most important and beautiful mountain races in Andalusia, since it is the only race that passes almost entirely through the Spanish firs of Yunquera, which is a real privilege.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Yunquera

Throughout the year, Yunquera has a calendar of celebrations in which the uniqueness of the traditional festivals of Yunquera come together, with the expansion of national festivals. However, the inhabitants of Yunquera make each celebration unique, giving it the characteristic touch of the town.

The first party of the year is Carnival, at the end of February. In Yunquera it is celebrated with parades, costumes and the classic Burial of the Sardine.

In March or April, depending on the year, Holy Week takes place, with Yunquera being one of the best known in Sierra de las Nieves. The first brotherhoods that formed in the town arose in 1648. The week begins with the living representation of the entrance to Jerusalem by the children of the town on Palm Sunday, from the Hermitage of Calvary to the Parish Church of the Incarnation. The religious processions and acts take place during Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.

Between May and June you can enjoy Corpus Christi, where for its celebration, the squares and streets of Yunquera are adorned with shawls, arches made of palm trees and ferns and the ground is covered with aromatic herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Altars with the image of Lord are placed, adorned with a multitude of flowers, waiting for the procession to pass.

In the month of June the Independence War against the French troops is commemorated for three days. This event is known as “Yunquera Guerrillera” and it is a historical recreation in which you can relive the life and historical events that occurred in the early 19th century.

Giving way to summer St. John is celebrated on June 24. In this celebration altars are set up in the Yunquera streets, highly decorated with plants, bedspreads and flower pots around a painting with the image of St. John. At the end of the night, a big fire is made in which the "juas" are burned and throughout the party there is music and dancing.

On July 16, the Procession of the Virgin Chiquita takes place, which is how the procession of the Virgin of the Carmel is known in Yunquera. This is because the procession is made with a reduced image of the Virgin of the Carmel from the Hermitage of Our Lady of Porticate to the Molino de los Patos (Ducks' Mill), where it is exchanged for the larger image and where it will be located for a month.

Once the month has passed, the Pilgrimage of Porticate takes place on August 15, when the reduced image of the Virgin of the Carmel is transferred again to the Hermitage of Our Lady of Porticate. Once the pilgrims arrived at the hermitage, a meal was organized and, at dusk, the large image is carried in procession to the town, where it would remain for 11 months until they were exchanged again.

In autumn the Our Lady of Rosary and St. Sebastián Fair is held. Around October 7 these festivity is closely linked to the harvest. As a most outstanding act, it should be noted that the women of Yunquera meet and pray the Aurora Tower through the different streets of the town.

Finally, the last weekend of October is the Wine and Chestnut Fair, of great tourist and cultural interest, which includes a great diversity of activities. During its celebration, numerous stands are exhibited where typical Yunquera products are sold, tastings are offered and contests, concerts and parades are held. This festivity has been declared a Provincial Tourist Singularity Festival.

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Gastronomy of Yunquera

Yunquera's gastronomy, like that of most municipalities in the Sierra de las Nieves region, is conditioned by local products, which are made up of olive oil, flour, vegetables, game meats, farm meats and wine.

With these products the delicious typical dishes of Yunquera are celebrated, such as cabbage pot, kid stew, rabbit with garlic, piriñaca and malcocinao, a dish made with chickpeas, bacon, callos, sausage and blood sausage.

In the confectionery we must highlight sweets such as fritters and dumplings with spaghetti squash preserve.

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