The municipality of Atajate, with 11 km2 and 745 meters above sea level, stretches between the Guadiaro Valley and the Genal Valley, next to the road that connects Ronda and Algeciras. It is located to the west of the province of Málaga, integrated into the Serranía de Ronda region.
The municipal term of Atajate limits with other municipalities within the province of Málaga. Among them you can find Alpandeire to the northeast and east, Benadalid to the south and Jimera de Líbar to the west and northwest.
The Atajate landscape is made up of olive groves, cereal and vineyard fields that coexist with oak groves, cork oaks and scrub, covering the lower areas of the reliefs.
Atajate town is located in a gentle trough open to the Genal Valley, between pico de Peñas Blancas (Peñas Blancas peak), 1076 meters, and Cerro del Cuervo (Raven Hill), 782 meters. It is 18 km from Ronda and 141 km from Málaga, and it highlights the homogeneity of its houses, which is only broken by the height of the church. It is distributed around two main elements: the square, where the Town Hall and the Stone Cross are located, and the road, as the main street.
The first remains of human settlements in the municipal term of Atajate correspond to fragments of prehistoric axes found inside some nearby caves. The territory of the Genal Valley could be an ideal place for prehistoric ancestors, giving them the opportunity to collect and hunt, as well as offering the option of taking refuge in caves or shelters.
Coins and ceramic remains from Roman times have also been found in the Atajate area. This is a consequence of Acinipo and Lacipo cities, among others, which were close to what is now Atajate.
However, it was at the time of Arab domination when the first urban nucleus was created in the Atajate territory, then located in Cerro del Cuervo. The origin of the name Atajate comes from this time, when it was called al-Tasas.
In 1496, after the reconquest by the Catholic Monarchs, Atajate was ceded to prince Mr. John and in 1570 he played an important role in the struggles between the Christian and Nasrid population, in which some houses were burned and the church damaged.
During the Spanish Independence War, in the 19th century, Atajate town was destroyed by Napoleonic troops and later became a refuge for bandits. In this same century, its beautiful parish church was built. Coinciding with the end of the century, ruin occurred in the municipality whose main sustenance was the vine, due to the phylloxera epidemic that damaged the vineyards in Atajate and in the entire province of Málaga. They closed the alembics, the place where the moonshine was produced, whose number was greater than twenty. There are still many ponds left in the basements of some houses.
Today, Atajate bases its economy on agriculture and its products include oil, must, palm hearts, figs, almonds, almond cheese and cherry liqueur.
Atajate town is a typical white town of Andalusian tradition with stone, brick and lime houses under Arab tile roofs that are concentrated in small streets that end up on the main street. Within its urban structure you can find certain elements of its cultural heritage that are worth seeing.
In the Atajate main square is the Stone Cross, built in limestone corresponding to the mountain of Atajate. It is one of the oldest buildings in the town and it is thought that it was built after the expulsion of the Moors, but, even though the exact date of its removal is unknown, it is known that it had already been built in the mid-17th century.
The Barrio Alto (High Neighborhood), which receives this name due to the orography of its terrain with the highest Atajate streets, is the oldest in the town, since high places were formerly used as a military strategy. In this neighborhood you will find the Barrio Alto Fountain adorned with flowers and built in 1966 where a sheer drop was formerly located.
Built in the eighteenth century and rebuilt in the nineteenth you will see the Church of Saint Joseph. Its interior is divided into three naves separated by semicircular arches on pillars. The exterior features a simple baroque doorway with a curved split pediment, whose arms point to a niche and a square-shaped tower, with a last octagonal body finished off with a pyramidal roof covered in ceramic and red tiles. In the Spanish Civil War it suffered damage, thus losing much of Atajate' sacred heritage.
According to a legend, in 1932 the Public Laundry was built or Pozancón, as it is known in Atajate. It represents an architectural symbol for the municipality in which the techniques and materials of the area have been used. This construction was a great advance at the time, as well as a social centre used as a meeting place for the women of Atajate.
Also, taking a walk through the streets of the town, you will find different ceramic murals that show fragments of tradition, ethnography and history of Atajate and the Genal Valley.
Last but not least, the Atajate town hall has carried out a project called “Atajate con nombre de mujer (Atajate with woman name)”. This project aims to give visibility to rural women in the municipality, and for this purpose, a ceramic plate has been placed in the different homes with the name of women linked to the families of each house, such as that of the grandmother, great-grandmother, mother, aunt, etc. paying homage in this way and allowing their names to remain in the history of Atajate. A total of 200 plaques are those that adorn the streets of the town, recalling the importance of these women who played a fundamental role in rural areas.
The municipality of Atajate is located in a privileged environment, with some idyllic places that correspond to the Genal Valley, where you can enjoy various places where you can appreciate the landscape, rest or share a pleasant picnic.
However, before you start exploring the natural environment of Atajate, you can visit the Must Museum, where you can learn about the elements related to wine culture, from the processes in the field to obtaining the must, the first wine that is extracted from the wine harvest. The must is more than a characteristic product of Atajate, for many of its inhabitants it represents, since modern times, the main sustenance of their income.
You can complete the visit to the museum by exploring the natural environment of Atajate through a very representative hiking route to complete your learning about the must. It is the Paseo del Mosto Route, a circular route of low difficulty, a 900-meter route and twenty minutes long. In the course you will pass bordering the Cerro del Cuervo and you will be able to appreciate beautiful views of the Genal Valley.
But this is not the only hiking route you can find in Atajate, there are other routes such as the Fray Leopoldo Route, which is nothing more than the path that Fray Leopoldo followed when visiting his hometown, Alpandeire. He arrived at Estación de Jimera de Líbar from Granada to head towards Jimera de Líbar, from here he moved to Atajate and, through the Audalazar Stream, he reached Alpandeire. It is a linear route with an extension of about 12.5 km, a medium-high difficulty and an estimated duration of five hours.
Also ending in Alpandeire you can do the Atajate - Alpandeire Trail PR-A 229, approved by the Andalusian Mountaineering Federation. It is a linear route of 5.6 km, a medium level of difficulty and an approximate duration of two hours. On the itinerary you will be able to see several well-differentiated landscapes, one more rugged in which you descend from Atajate to the Audalazar Stream, another in the surroundings of the stream with a riverside vegetation typical of these ecosystems and another in the last stretch to Alpandeire with a forest of chestnut tree, holm oaks, cork oaks, gall oaks and wild olive trees.
Another route with which you can visit another municipality is the Atajate - Benadalid Trail PR-A 235, which runs from Atajate to Benadalid, starting at New Street and ending at Venta El Paisaje (The Landscape Inn). On this route you will be able to appreciate chestnut trees, cherry trees, olive trees, holm oaks, figs, vineyards and shrubs such as blackberries and sloes. It has 11 km one way, an average difficulty and an estimated duration of three hours.
The last recommended hiking route for you to do in Atajate is the Atajate - Jimera de Líbar Trail PR-A 258, which, also starting from New Street, will take you to Jimera de Líbar. It is a 4.5 km linear route, an average difficulty and an approximate duration of an hour and a half.
In the surroundings of Atajate there are some remains of caves that are known as Los Tajos. In this place, remains of axes belonging to the first human settlements in the municipality have been found. It is a place of singular beauty since there is a labyrinth of rock formations covered with a thick thicket, known as the Atajate Torcal. From the summit you can see an impressive panoramic view of Serranía de Ronda and Genal Valley. In the middle of Los Tajos there are several very deep chasms, which were explored a few years ago by cavers.
In addition, in the beautiful environment that surrounds Atajate you can find thick groves of black pine and repopulations with Monterey pine, as well as the occasional group of holm oaks among the leafy mountains. Cork oaks, rockroses and heathers are also typical of this area. On the other hand, mammals such as roe deer, deer, western European hedgehog, badger and weasel coexist among the riverside vegetation.
To promote active tourism in Atajate, there is a via ferrata that includes a monkey bridge and a Tibetan bridge in its route. The most difficult point is at the beginning of the road with a small lead. The road is at the entrance to Atajate town. There is also a 300 meter zip line.
Finally, the municipality of Atajate has a sport court and a municipal swimming pool for summer use.
In Atajate you can enjoy the tradition and culture of a town in Serranía de Ronda through some celebrations that are spread throughout the year.
In the months of March or April, depending on the year and coinciding with Holy Week, the Moors and Christians Festival takes place.
In the middle of August, on the days before and after the 16th, the Saint Roch Festivities are held and different sports activities, gastronomic tastings, religious events and festivals with live music are organized, in which the entire Atajate town participates. These festivals include the famous Water Festival, where young people and less young people dressed in water tanks, wet everyone who is in the festivity.
On September 8 the Atajate Patron Saint Day is celebrated.
Finally, on the last Saturday of November, the Must Festivity is celebrated, classified as a Provincial Tourist Interest Festival and in which it is intended to highlight the quality of the wine produced in these lands. In it, tastings of this rich must are offered, as well as migas and other local products to all visitors, all in a festive atmosphere.
The gastronomy of Atajate, like that of most municipalities in Serranía de Ronda, is mainly based on local products depending on seasonality. For example, spring is time for casseroles with wild herbs such as common golden thistle, bladder campion or wild asparagus.
Throughout the year you can taste mountain pots, chickpea stews, lentil stews, rabbit stews and a wide range of dishes and cold cuts from pork. However, the most notable dishes in Atajate are migas, hot gazpacho, cod pancakes, potato casserole and porridge.
In addition, Atajate has great fame in the province for its pastries, reminiscent to a certain extent of the Moorish tradition. This is mainly made up of wheat flour, sugar and olive oil, combining it with cinnamon, aniseed and sesame, sometimes accompanied by almonds. Exquisite homemade sweets come out of these products, such as rolls, muffins, almond cheese, suspiros, borrachuelos, rosquillos, mostachones and enreaíllos.
Among the drinks, the must, named above, is very representative. This is a hallmark of Atajate.
On the other hand, in Atajate you can find artisan specialists who weave beautiful baskets and espadrilles with natural sticks. Among the most common activities are jobs such as espadrille, olive vareta and esparto grass.
Espadrilles are very common and have already become a symbol of Atajate, with miniature versions being hung in the interior rear-view mirror of cars.