What to do and what to see in El Borge

The municipality of El Borge is located southwest of La Axarquía region, in the province of Málaga, bordering this region and Montes de Málaga.

With an area of 24 km², El Borge is mainly dedicated to agriculture, the cultivation of vineyards and subtropics such as avocado and mango. This is a characteristic that it shares with the neighboring municipalities, which are Comares and Cútar to the north, Almáchar to the east, Moclinejo and Totalán to the south, and the municipality of Málaga to the west.

El Borge is the undisputed capital of the raisin, with a designation of origin and world renown. Its history has been linked to the cultivation of the Muscat grape and to the production of raisins, until it became one of the largest producers in Spain of this product. Half of its territory is dedicated to the cultivation of the Muscat grape. The centuries-old vines and the traditional farmhouses are the most representative elements of the landscape of this municipality, integrated into La Axarquía Raisin Route.

In El Borge town, of Arab origin, the white of their houses contrasts with the color of the flowers that adorn windows and balconies. In addition, El Borge is a reference point to learn about the phenomenon of banditry in Andalusia.

The municipality of El Borge preserves enclaves that bring together the greatest variety of flora and fauna in all of La Axarquía.

History of El Borge

El Borge is a town of Arab origin, from which its name comes, Al-Borg, which means "tower" or "bulwark". However, it is thought that the first establishments were in the form of scattered houses for those who had to work the fields of these lands.

During the Arab domination and the subsequent conquest by the Christian troops, El Borge was integrated into the party of the Four Villas, together with Almáchar, Cútar and Moclinejo, under the protection of Comares.

After the conquest of La Axarquía region by the troops of the Catholic Monarchs, many residents of El Borge helped the rebels to flee to the Alpujarra Granadina, until the mayor appointed by the king of Vélez-Málaga, Álvaro de Zuazo, sent a garrison to put an end to the rebels.

From the Arab era we must highlight an important person, Ibn al-Baitar, a famous Arab doctor and botanist, who introduced citrus cultivation in the Benamargosa River valley, the Almáchar River and the El Borge River, where it is known that he lived certain time before emigrating to Egypt.

El Borge was an important focus of the Muslim resistance during the Moorish uprising of the 16th century, some of its neighbors became standard-bearers of the rebellion. However, after the expulsion of the Moors from the area, the town was repopulated with people from different parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

In the middle of the 17th century, El Borge suffered a plague epidemic, leaving its population decimated. From this stage in history was Martín Vázquez Ciruela, also born in El Borge, considered one of the most prestigious theologians of the court of Felipe IV.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, a large part of the inhabitants of El Borge were working to making raisins. In the last third of the 19th century, when it registered the highest population density, the appearance of the phylloxera and the earthquake registered in 1884 stopped the development of the municipality again.

The history of El Borge has also been linked to the phenomenon of banditry. El Bizco de El Borge (El Borge's Cross-eyed) was one of the best-known bandits of the time. He died in 1889 in Lucena. He was poisoned and then finished off by the Civil Guard. Today his name occupies a prominent place in Andalusian banditry.

At present, El Borge is in a process of diversification of its economy in which the main engine is the raisin and wine industry, but where textiles and tourism are gradually gaining strength, mainly rural tourism.

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What to see in El Borge

Within El Borge town there are different enclaves with elements that make up the cultural heritage of the municipality. These elements are from different times each and in them you can appreciate different aspects of the history of El Borge.

Without a doubt, the most important monument in El Borge is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, one of the most original in La Axarquía region and declared a Andalusian Historical Heritage Monument. It was built in the 16th century and its style is a mixture of late Gothic and Renaissance with Mudejar and Baroque elements. Of this temple, its 18th century dressing rooms, its wooden armor and its tower with a glazed ceramic roof stand out.

Next to the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary there is a Crypt where burials were made in the 16th century. It was closed by Charles III in 1767. Today it is open to the public for her visit.

Walking through El Borge town you will find two fountains, one the Fuente del Cuerno (Horn Fountain), of Arab origin, and the other the Fuente de la Vendimia (Vendimia Fountain), located near a typical winery and decorated with the sculpture of a grape picker. Both waters come from the Fuensanta spring.

Right at the entrance of El Borge you will be able to appreciate the Raisin Arch, which pays tribute to its most typical product, the raisin. The monument includes two murals dedicated to the famous theologian Martín Vázquez Ciruela and to the Arab doctor and botanist Ibn al-Baitar.

It is recommended that you go through the Rinconcillo Neighborhood, peculiar for its urban layout, with steep streets, some with stairs, and with whitewashed houses adorned with geraniums.

You can also stroll through one of its squares, such as the Constitution Square, the most important in El Borge and located in the old town, the Rafael Alberti Square, built in what was previously a stream, and the Pocillo Square, located in the lower area of the town.

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What to do in El Borge

In El Borge you will not have time to get bored, since you can carry out different activities that will surely be pleasing to you and your companions. These activities are mostly related to the history of the municipality and nature.

One of the milestones in the history of El Borge is banditry and, in this regard, a museum called the Bandit Wine Cellar Museum has been formed. In it you can find an interesting sample of objects related to banditry in these lands, with a special focus on the famous bandit known as El Bizco de El Borge, one of the most famous bandits in Málaga. Historians characterize it as bloody, perverse and treacherous. His first crime was in Alfarnate, murdering a man who denounced him about a theft that he was going to do. He was married twice but they were not fruitful, due to the life he led.

The museum has, apart from the historical elements, a series of pictures and drawings that illustrate the life of the bandits and that were donated by different Málaga painters. At present it has been converted into the Bandit Wine Cellar Hotel.

Without leaving the same town you can have an approach to nature, since El Borge has the "La Alcua" Botanical Park, a cosy and quiet place where you can find plants such as oriental bananas, bamboo, roses, false pepper shakers, Chinese hibiscus, ferns, jasmines, yuccas, palm trees, etc.

In addition to this park, there is another park for the little ones to have fun, the "María Zambrano" Children's Park, which is named after the philosopher of La Axarquía. It is located next to the Antonio Gala Public School and the municipal swimming pool.

Regarding the natural environment of El Borge, it has a landscape of hills covered with vineyards and olive groves. The same town is located 237 meters above sea level, at the foot of Cerro Cútar (Cútar Hill) and next to the El Borge River.

So that you can explore all the natural environment that the municipality contemplates, El Borge offers you a series of hiking routes that you can do during your visit.

One of the best known routes in El Borge is the Cerro El Ejido Route, with a route of 4 km and an estimated duration of one and a half hours. The route starts in the direction of Almáchar and as you ascend you will get privileged views of El Borge and Almáchar towns, as well as La Maroma. During the route you will be able to appreciate almond trees, vine and olive trees. Upon reaching the Cútar Port, where the border between El Borge and Cútar is marked, you will advance until you can see Comares town and, below, the neighboring Cútar town. Approximately 1 km later you will reach Cerro El Ejido (El Ejido Hill) and thus the end of the route, not counting the return to El Borge town.

From the María Zambrano Avenue, next to the municipal swimming pool, the Pilgrimage Route begins, with a length of 4.65 km, an estimated duration of one hour and forty-five minutes and low difficulty. Once you reach the river bed, you will have to follow the route that leads to the place where the pilgrimage of El Borge is celebrated. Once you arrive at the site where the pilgrimage takes place, you will return along the same path to finish the route.

Increasing the level with respect to the distance, you can do the Charata Route, with 16 km of route, a low difficulty and a duration of approximately 5 hours. This is a circular route that passes through places such as La Tinajuela Port, la Charata lane and the Cierna Reserve. This route connects with the towns of Almáchar, Comares and Cútar.

To finish, there is the route with the longest distance that El Borge offers, the Saint Pitar Route, with a 21.25 km route, a low difficulty and an estimated duration of six hours and forty-five minutes. It is a circular route, so it begins and ends in El Borge town. On this route, perfectly signposted, you will find a very varied vegetation made up of gorse, olive tree, prickly pear, pita, almond tree and vine.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in El Borge

Throughout the year different festivities are celebrated in El Borge and each one with a different reason and history. Some of these celebrations have their origin in El Borge and others are external but contain a characteristic point of this land.

The first celebration that takes place in El Borge throughout the year is Carnival, at the end of February. It represents the traditional costume parade and the performance of a “Murga” who parodies relevant events during the year.

In the month of March or April, depending on the year, Holy Week takes place. In El Borge they are especially representative on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The last three days coincide with the Saint Gabriel Festivity, which have a popular and folkloric character. These festivals, due to their coincidence with Holy Week, have a great dose of spirituality and popular fervor.

On April 25, Saint Marcos Day is celebrated, in which the inhabitants of El Borge carry out one of the most deeply rooted traditions, the "Sanmarqueo", which consists of meeting with friends and spending a day in the countryside. It is typical of this day to "tie the devil" which consists of looking for a dandelion and making a knot. It is a very old tradition and is shared with some surrounding towns.

The Pilgrimage of Saint Isidore, which takes place in mid-May, is held in the part of the river, which is dry by then, in a part enabled for it. This day the inhabitants of El Borge take Saint Isidore and take him to the countryside, where they carry out a series of activities organized by the city council.

Finishing the summer, on the third Sunday of September, the Raisin Day takes place, which is declared a Provincial Tourist Interest Festivity in Málaga. It is the main event that takes place in El Borge and where you can taste the muscat raisin, unique for its flavor and texture, as well as other typical dishes of the land such as gazpacho, migas or muscat wine, the other star product from El Borge. The verdiales pandas, dances and demonstrations of the typical tasks of grape treatment, from the time it is harvested from the grape until it is dried in the sun to become a raisin, minced and packaged, put the finishing touch to this celebration.

Finally, at Christmas there are two special celebrations in El Borge, one is New Year's Eve, in which the neighbors gather in the Constitution Square to start the year and eat twelve raisins instead of the traditional grapes, and the other is the Three Kings Parade, in which the kings go by donkey instead of camels and candies is distributed.

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Gastronomy of El Borge

In El Borge gastronomy there are two products that are characteristic of the area, raisins and Muscat wine, both of which come from the Muscat grape.

The typical dishes of El Borge include tomato soup, cod omelettes with cane honey, goat with garlic, gazpachuelo, stews, cucumber and tomato gazpacho, and alborgueña chicken.

Among the pastries, the Saint Marcos turnover stands out.

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