The municipality of Benalauría, with 21 km2, extends to the west of the province of Málaga, in the heart of the Genal Valley and integrated into the Serranía de Ronda region.
Throughout its territory it borders different municipalities in the province of Málaga. These are to the north the municipality of Benadalid, to the east Jubrique, to the south Algatocín and Benarrabá, and to the west and northwest Cortes de la Frontera.
The municipality of Benalauría extends through the Guadiaro Valley and the Genal Valley, with a small mountain line that, from south to north, divides the two basins, formed by the Loma de la Sierra (Mountain Range Hill), with 1,137 meters of altitude, and the Peñón de Benadalid (Rock of Benadalid), with 1,116 meters, located in the neighboring municipality of the same name. The limestone gray of these mountains contrasts with the green of the chestnut, pine and walnut forests that spread around the town, mixed with olive trees. In the Genal River basin, the numerous meanders along with the vegetation of its banks make up places of singular beauty.
On the other hand, beyond the Loma de la Sierra, in the Guadiaro Valley, the landscape of Benalauría presents a softer relief occupied by calm lands and grasslands interspersed with groves of cork oaks, which extend through the south of the municipality, giving rise to spectacular panoramas in which the river and the railway track are embedded in a narrow valley.
Benalauría town, with an altitude above sea level of 667 meters, is located on a steep slope in the shadow of a hill covered with chestnut trees, 2 km from the A-369 regional road and 30 km from Ronda. The town is perfectly adapted to the orography of its surroundings with the layout of its sloping streets and slopes that are sometimes saved with small flights of stairs.
From the enclave where Benalauría town is located, you can see the Rock of Gibraltar and the coasts of Africa on days with a clear atmosphere.
The origin of Benalauría dates back to Arab times and it seems that the first settlement occurred at the beginning of the 8th century, due to the presence in these lands of a Berber tribe called Banu-l-Hawria.
The Arab occupation continued until 1485, when Benalauría was conquered by Christian troops. The Moors remained as Mudejar until, after several revolts, they were definitively expelled in 1570, and Benalauría was occupied by Christians from the Guadalquivir Valley and Sierra Morena, who continued to be subject to the stately jurisdiction of the houses of Alcalá and Medinaceli.
In the 18th century, the population in Benalauría doubled and grew to around 900 inhabitants at the end of the century, thanks to the favorable economic conditions of the time that led to the extension of the lands of calm, the vine and the olive grove, and with the construction of the oil mills that still exist. The church was also rebuilt and works were carried out on the square with the construction of the Town Hall, the Farmhouse of Farmers and other buildings, whose beautiful 18th-century ensemble you can admire.
The entry into the nineteenth century coincides with the time of maximum economic and agricultural growth in the area, with more than a thousand inhabitants in Benalauría. Unlike other territories, the collapse of the vine due to phylloxera and the competition from other territories did not have great consequences in the municipality, since it was quickly replaced by rainfed trees.
In the 20th century, the maximum extension of olive groves and cereal was carried out in Benalauría, as well as citrus fruits. Since the 1950s, depopulation has been produced, among other factors, caused by the fall in farm prices, which was reduced by more than half in 1996.
Currently, the EU agricultural policy helps to maintain the rural population, as well as new opportunities that arise such as ecotourism and organic farming, in which Benalauría is a pioneer.
Benalauría town has some of the elements of the municipality's cultural heritage. That is why to begin to know Benalauría, it is best to start with its town. In this way you can enjoy the different monuments as well as the beauty of the town.
One of the most important buildings in Benalauría is the Town Hall. It dates from the 18th century and presents a lintel facade of exposed brick, flanked by latticed windows in the Ronda style. The building is finished off with a continuous balcony with a wrought iron railing and the heraldic shield of Spain in the times of Ferdinand VII.
Representing the arrival of Christianity in Benalauría after the conquest by the Catholic Monarchs, you can see the Church of Saint Dominic de Guzmán. Neoclassical style church that had its origin in the 16th century and consists of three naves and a chancel separated from them by a half-orange dome and has a basilica plan. It is chaired by an altarpiece divided into three niches separated by columns. The main niche houses the patron of Benalauría, Saint Dominic. Also inside is the image of the patron saint, the Our Lady of the Rosary, which was the only image that survived the fire in the church during the Spanish Civil War.
To move to an older period in the history of the area near Benalauría, you can see the Roman Columbarium of Cortijo del Moro, archaeological sites from Roman times that are located in the natural area between the Cañada del Real Tesoro (Royal Treasure Small Valley) and Siete Pilas (Seven Sinks) with gall oaks and oaks. Near the Cortijo del Moro (Moorish Farmhouse), within the municipality of Benalauría, you will find archaeological ruins known as Cueva del Moro (Moorish Cave), which correspond to a Roman funerary monument, probably from the 1st century. In the surroundings you will be able to appreciate the remains of an agricultural village associated with the columbarium, where wealthy families of the time lived.
In the municipality of Benalauría you can explore both the natural and cultural environment of this area of the Serranía de Ronda. You will have the opportunity to learn more about the origins and traditions of Benalauría, as well as the wonderful environment marked by the Genal Valley.
To learn more about Benalauría's past, you can visit the Benalauría Ethnographic Museum, which occupies the facilities of an 18th century mill. Inside and throughout its six rooms, it houses a blood mill (moved by the action of an animal, usually a mule or donkey) and some presses with the tools necessary for its complete operation, as well as various tools for farming and rural work such as grape press, wheel treads, plows, elements for the manufacture and molding of food, etc.
Also, next to the town square and occupying the facilities of the old Farmer Granary, you will find the Moorish and Christians House Interpretation Center. It is represented by a permanent exhibition of images and texts. In addition, the work that is performed each year through a festival declared an Tourist Interest Festival of Andalusia, allows us to know the characters of the drama and the historical events on which it is based.
With regard to the environmental environment of the municipality of Benalauría, it is marked by the Genal River basin and its tributaries, constituting one of the most beautiful enclaves of Serranía de Ronda and Andalusia, a dense vegetation cover formed by black pines, holm oaks, gall oaks, cork oaks, with abundant thicket of rockrose and heather, walnut trees and chestnut trees, one of the most characteristic species of the area, providing, especially in autumn, a color that gives spectacularity and beauty to the landscape. The riverside vegetation is especially interesting, since numerous characteristic subtropical species penetrate to the north through this valley.
Among the most characteristic fauna of Benalauría, the roe deer, the badger, the otter, the mongoose, the wild cat, the golden eagle, the griffon vulture, the eagle owl, the black woodpecker, the water blackbird and the trout in the aquatic environment stand out.
In the other basin, the Guadiaro River, the Cañón de las Buitreras (Buitreras Canyon) stands out, an impressive canyon at the confluence of the municipalities of Cortes de la Frontera, Benarrabá and Benalauría, formed by the persistent action of the Guadiaro River on the limestone rock, originating this narrow sheer drop that reaches a depth of more than 100 meters, until it reaches the river, although slopes of up to 200 meters can be seen with spectacular walls that reach verticality. Access to the canyon is very difficult due to the steepness of the terrain, hence it is one of the environments that appear in climbing routes and canyoning. This natural unevenness has been declared a Natural Monument of Andalusia.
Other places of interest in the municipality of Benalauría are the Tajo de los Aviones (Planes Sheer Drop) caving cave, the Siete Pilas camping area and Monte Poyato (Poyato Mount).
One of the best ways to get to know the surroundings of Benalauría is through a hiking route, since it will allow you to explore the wonderful landscape that completes the municipality, obtaining an experience in total connection with nature and the environment.
One of the routes provided by the municipality of Benalauría is the Atajate - Benalauría Route, a route that will take you from Atajate to Benalauría, passing through the municipality of Benadalid, and which runs along the right bank of the Genal Valley. It is a 10 km linear route with low difficulty. The route begins at the exit of Atajate town, near the road that leads to Jimera de Líbar, from where you can see part of Serranía de Ronda, some peaks of Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja, Monte Jardón (Jardón Mount), Monte Canalizo (Canalizo Mount) and Monte Porrejón (Porrejón Mount). You will get beautiful views of the chestnut groves of Igualeja, Parauta and Pujerra, with the highest peaks of the Sierra de las Nieves in the background. Once in Benadalid, you will have to go through a transitory area between the Genal Valley and the Guadiaro Valley, and following the route you will arrive at El Piche, a recreational area where a Benadalid festival is held in honor of Saint Isidore, to reach Benadalid town finally. To resume the route you will have to follow the white and yellow milestones, to cross some fields of chestnut trees, cork oaks with views of the Genal Valley and its vegetation of holm oaks, cork oaks, chestnut trees, gall oaks and strawberry trees. Finally, you will arrive at Benalauría town where the route ends.
In addition, Benalauría is part of the different municipalities that make up the Great Path of Málaga, being part of two stages, one that ends in the town and another that begins in it.
On the other hand, there are other more extreme nature connection options such as climbing, since Benalauría has a via ferrata, the Vía Ferrata del Canal. It is very simple and technical via ferrata at the same time with two monkey bridges. It is the preferred ferrata for inexperienced people as it perfectly combines difficulty, simplicity and exceptional landscapes.
In addition, the municipality of Benalauría has a sports court and a municipal swimming pool for summer use.
Benalauría has a fairly complete calendar of festivals and celebrations, like the other municipalities in the Serranía de Ronda. In these celebrations you will find clear evidence of tradition and custom in which, apart from enjoying, you will be able to understand part of the town's history.
In the months of March or April, during the celebration of Holy Week, the Procession of Los Mandaítos and the Procession of the Holy Burial stand out.
The Pilgrimage of Siete Pilas is celebrated the last weekend of May in honor of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, with the programming of different activities. On the other hand, the Organic Livestock Fair is held in parallel.
The summer celebrations begin with the Cinemáscampo, which takes place in July and with a biannual cadence. It is a film festival with rural content.
The first week of August, the Saint Dominic de Guzmán Fair, the patron saint of Benalauría, is celebrated and the Moors and Christians Festival occurs on the first Sunday of this month.
The second weekend of October you can enjoy the Pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of the Rosary, patron saint of Benalauría.
Finally, in the month of December, the Genal Valley Handicraft Fair takes place, the same days of the constitution bridge, with the participation of all the artisans of the area. These days the Cantequetecanta festival, a festival of traditional and peasant music, is also celebrated in Benalauría.
The municipality of Benalauría, like the other municipalities of the Genal Valley, gastronomy is based on a long tradition of local products, some of them seasonal.
Throughout the year Benalauría gives you the opportunity to taste delicacies such as Serrano pots, chickpea stews, meats, rabbit stews, different dishes and sausages from pork. Also, you can try other typical dishes such as hot gazpacho, fresh gazpacho, tomato soup and fennel stew.
In addition, in Benalauría the products of the garden are of great importance, as well as in the entire Genal Valley, offering the inhabitants a great variety of vegetables and fresh fruits.
Regarding the confectionery of Benalauría, it is largely a reflection of the Moorish tradition, highlighting the combination of wheat flour, sugar and olive oil flavored with cinnamon, anise and sesame, and, on some occasions, accompanied by almonds and walnuts. In this way and through other alternatives, authentic delicacies such as fritters, brandy chestnuts, chestnuts in syrup, dough cakes and chestnut toast are achieved.
Finally, we must highlight in a special way the grape moonshine that is made in the town.