What to do and what to see in Montejaque

The municipality of Montejaque, with an area of 46.60 km2, is located to the west of the province of Málaga and integrated into the Serranía de Ronda region.

Montejaque, being located on the border of the province of Málaga with the province of Cádiz, borders the municipalities of both provinces. Within the province of Málaga it limits to the north and northeast with the municipality of Ronda and to the east and south with Benaoján, while in the province of Cádiz it limits to the west with Villaluenga del Rosario and Grazalema.

Part of the municipality of Montejaque is integrated into the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and extends between Sierra de Grazalema, Guadiaro Valley and Sierra de Libar.

The orography of Montejaque is rugged and peaks such as Peñón de Mures (Mures' Rock), with 865 meters, Cerro Tavizna (Tavizna Hill), with 899 meters, El Hacho, with 1,065 meters, and Pico Ventana (Ventana Peak), with 1,298 meters. The Gaduares River crosses the municipality and shapes with its course the well-known Hundidero-Gato crossing, about 5 km from the town.

Montejaque town is located at the bottom of Sierra del Hacho, between Cerro Mures (Mures Hill) and Cerro Tavizna, at an altitude of 687 meters above sea level, 21 km from Ronda and 138 km from Málaga city. Its old town, in the upper part of the town, will enchant you, full of picturesque places, with its maze of narrow streets, typical of the Muslim era, and houses with their whitewashed facades.

History of Montejaque

The references of human presence in Montejaque come from the Stone Age, in the Cueva del Hundidero (Hundidero's Cave). Later, the Romans used the Montejaque lands to move, as evidenced by the remains of the Roman bridge over the Campobuche River.

However, the origin of Montejaque town is Arabic, like that of its name, Monte-Xaquez, which means “lost mountain”. During this stage the municipality enjoyed great progress and intricate and winding alleys were built. At this time there was a medieval castle of which only its name remains in an estate known as the Finca del Castillo (Castle Estate) from where much of Serranía de Ronda was sighted.

After the conquest by the Catholic Monarchs, Montejaque was handed over to the Benavente Count as lordship, ceasing to belong to the outskirts of Ronda.

During the Moorish uprising in the 16th century, the mayor of Montejaque suffered several attacks for collaborating with Christian troops.

In the Spanish Independence War, during the French occupation, Montejaque played an active role by starring in a warlike confrontation together with Benaoján, Cortes de la Frontera, Atajate and Jimera de Líbar, in which some 200 neighbors faced 700 French, being winners of the contest despite the numerical inferiority.

Since the end of the 19th century, Montejaque has been suffering a gradual depopulation, which has been overcome in recent years thanks to rural tourism with the rehabilitation of old houses. Its agriculture occupies a small part of the local economy and is mainly based on olive and cereal crops. This is completed with the goat, sheep, cow and pig herd.

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What to see in Montejaque

In spite of Montejaque's Arab past, the elements of its cultural heritage, outside the layout and structure of its streets and houses, are mostly from a later time.

To get to know the cultural heritage of Montejaque, you can start by taking a look at the Church of Santiago the Great, built in the early 16th century and renovated during the 18th century. This church is in the late Gothic style, it has three naves and in its interior there is a vault of terraces over the presbytery and a pictorial decoration in the chapel of the nave of the Gospel. Outside stands out the church tower that in its last body is octagonal.

Inside the town you can also see the Laundry of the Old Fountain. What was once the Montejaque laundry room, where women used to wash clothes, after a renovation in 2009, has become an interpretation center to show the history of a construction that played a fundamental role in the municipality when it has not yet the water reached the homes.

Outside Montejaque town, you can find the Hermitage of the Virgin of the Escarihuela, which consists of a small hermitage with a single nave, with a small altar inside and the image of the Virgin.

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What to do in Montejaque

In Montejaque you can carry out different activities related to its natural environment, and especially related to caving.

This activity, which consists of exploring caves and other natural cavities, can be carried out in the well-known Cueva del Hundidero. This cave, next to the Cueva del Gato (Gato's Cave) in Benaoján, is part of one of the largest caving systems in Spain and the largest in Andalusia, the Hundidero-Gato complex. The cave is located in the course of the Gaduares River and has more than 50 meters of height in some points, in a 4 km long underground passage.

In addition, at the entrance to the Cueva del Hundidero, you will be able to witness the skeleton of an old dam, the Montejaque Reservoir. This dam was lost due to the multiple sinks created in the limestone rock, which caused leaks and this produced a continuous emptying of the dam.

To continue expanding your knowledge regarding caving, you will have the opportunity to visit the Caving Interpretation Centre. Here, through panels, display cabinets and audiovisual media, you will be able to discover the karst geology of the mountains that surround Montejaque, the formation of cavities and chasms, the relationship of man with caves, the interrelation of caving with sports and science, speleological progression techniques, their specific modalities such as canyoning and cave diving, and you can also learn about topography, biospeleology, the material used, underground photography and the importance of protection and conservation of cavities. You will better understand the history of Montejaque by knowing more about the beginnings of human presence in the surroundings of the Guadiaro Valley, as well as knowing the most significant chasms and caves of the municipality and its immediate surroundings, such as Sima del Pozuelo (Pozuelo's Chasm), Hundidero-Gato Hydrogeological System, Cueva de la Pileta (Pileta's Cave) and, the deepest in Andalusia, Sima Gesm (Gesm Chasm) and Sima del Aire (Air Chasm).

In this centre you can even get information about Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.

Continuing the exploration of the natural environment of Montejaque, you can take a hiking route that will take you from the town itself to the spectacular Llanos de Líbar (Líbar's Plains). On your way you will enjoy spectacular views, between olive groves and steep slopes, to end up on the great plain of the Llanos de Líbar.

A circular route in the surroundings of Montejaque is the Ascent to Pico Ventana, located in Sierra de Juan Diego, within Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and in the municipality of Benaoján. This route will take you to the old road that connected Benaoján and Villaluenga del Rosario through Puerto de Cufría (Cufría's Refuge) and Puerto del Correo (Mail Refuge). At the summit of the Pico Ventana you can get spectacular views. The descent can be done on the slopes of Monte Prieto (Prieto Hill).

There are other routes that you can do in or near the municipality of Montejaque, such as the Hermitage of the Virgin of the Escarihuela Route, the Zurraque - El Hacho Route or the Picos de Tunio and El Palo Route.

Between these routes, you will be surprised by the great contrast in the orography of Montejaque, between Sierra de Montalate and Sierra de Juan Diego, because of how, just two kilometers from the town, the land opens unexpectedly and extensive meadows appear where the cattle.

Finally, the municipality of Montejaque provides you with other sports options thanks to its sport centre and its municipal swimming pool.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Montejaque

In Montejaque, in addition to the typical festivals of the national and regional calendar, you can enjoy others, some with a certain uniqueness, that will make you delve into the customs and tradition of the municipality.

To begin with, the Carnival in Montejaque is listed as a Provincial Tourist Singularity Festival. It is celebrated on February 28, coinciding with Andalusia Day. During this party the Pitcher Games are held, in which the participants placed in a circle throw a pitcher at each other, opening the circle more and more and eliminating whoever falls.

In mid-May the Festivities in honor of the Virgin of Immaculate Conception take place. These are the patron saint festivities in which the Virgin of Immaculate Conception is carried out in procession through the streets of Montejaque, accompanied by the musical band. The next day, also accompanied by the musical band, the patron saint moved to the Hermitage of the Virgin of the Escarihuela, where a popular paella was organized. The parties are accompanied by musical performances, fireworks, parades and a children's party, all in a celebratory atmosphere.

In the summer months you can enjoy two different festivals, one the Festivity of Santiago, held in late July with two days of celebration, and the other the Montejaque Fair, in mid-August, heir to the old livestock fairs that, as in many municipalities, it was held in Montejaque. It is followed by performances, contests, sports competitions and children's parties, among other activities.

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Gastronomy of Montejaque

Montejaque gastronomy is represented by the traditional products of Serranía de Ronda. However, in this municipality the chacinera industry stands out especially, which is present in the most typical dish, the leg stew with a piece of each part of the pork. But the cured meats are not the only typical products of Montejaque, since we must also highlight the pumpkin, the peas, the artichokes and the goat meat.

Aside from the leg stew, in Montejaque you can taste other exquisite dishes such as the greaves cake or the chickpeas stew. Also typical are handmade muffins and homemade jams made with local products.

You can accompany all these dishes with mistela, an artisanal alcoholic drink made with natural ingredients and a very original flavor.

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