What to do and what to see in Benarrabá

The municipality of Benarrabá is located to the west of the province of Málaga and is part of the Serranía de Ronda region. With 26 km2, its municipal term extends through the basins of the Guadiaro River and the Genal River, 37 km from Ronda.

Benarrabá borders other municipalities within the province of Málaga, bordering to the north with the municipalities of Benalauría and Algatocín, to the east with Jubrique and Genalguacil, to the south with Casares and Gaucín, and to the west with Cortes de la Frontera.

The municipality of Benarrabá is a fundamentally mountainous territory, especially the Genal River basin, where you will find a great variety of landscapes, some formed by cork oaks, chestnut trees, pines and gall oaks forests, and others more of riverside that flank the river, full of strawberry trees, heather, durillos, myrtles, ferns, etc. In addition, the Genal River offers beautiful bathing areas such as Los Lobos, Los Pepes, El Reventón, La Peña, etc.

In the Guadiaro Valley, the slopes are smoother, with a landscape more of the countryside, where the land of calm and cattle abound. Here is the Natural Monument called Cañón de las Buitreras (Buitreras Canyon).

Benarrabá's economy is basically agricultural and livestock. It is its corks and chestnut trees forests that generate the greatest activity, together with the herds of goats, sheep and pigs. Along the rivers there are family gardens that produce a great variety of products for small consumption.

Benarrabá town, located about 622 meters above sea level, rises on the slope of Monte Porón. Fully adapted to the slope of the terrain, it still retains its appearance from the Muslim era, with steep and winding streets. This beautiful town has beautiful viewpoints on Monte Porón, El Peñón, and in the Sierra de Frontales, which divides the two valleys.

History of Benarrabá

The origin of Benarrabá is not defined, although it is known that it was formed in the Arab period. However, there are vestiges of Roman times in places like Puerto de las Eras (Eras Refuge), as well as a road that passed nearby and that is thought to link the cities of Lacipo and Arunda.

From the Muslim period is the name of Benarrabá, which comes from Banu Rabbah, which means children of Rabbah. It corresponds to the ancient tribe of the Benimerines who occupied these lands.

At the top of Monte Porón a castle was located from which the entire valley was guarded, thus defending other villages in the mountainous area. There are stories that indicate that there may even have been some underground communication between this castle and those of Gaucín and Casares.

There is a legend from the Benimerines stage in Benarrabá that tells about a family of dyers who were established on the banks of the Genal River, where they produced quite exquisite dyes, with a special fame that of the crimson color. This family sold these dyes in Málaga, Córdoba and Granada. This legend attributes the brightness and beauty of the dyes to magical properties found in the pure waters of the Genal River, but the reality is that this was due to the experience of Abdesalam ben Arrabat, a great alchemist who carried out some formulas quite effective using elements such as sulfuric or nitric acid, very disruptive for the time.

After the conquest by the Christian troops, Benarrabá town came to belong to the house of Medina Sidonia.

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What to see in Benarrabá

Benarrabá town itself is the reason for an urban route that will make you travel back in time, showing you corners of great beauty, its cobbled, narrow and very sloping streets that give faith of its Arab origin, as well as construction elements typical of the stage medieval that are visible in a considerable number of houses. These elements are some such as the dust covers on the windows, the ornamentation of its whitewashed facades, its architectural typology normally structured on two floors, the latticework of its windows and the houses with water wells. Along the route of the town, some of these eighteenth-century houses attract attention, with the entrance door framed by a lintel or the windows with bars that protrude as closures.

One of the elements that make up the cultural heritage of Benarrabá is the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation. This church dates from the first half of the 18th century, although it has undergone subsequent reforms, especially after the Spanish Civil War. It consists of three naves separated by pillars that hold semicircular arches, the main chapel is covered by a hemispherical vault with polychrome plasterwork. On both sides of the chapel there are two others also with vaults on pendentives. The central nave is covered by a plaster vault in the form of an armor and the lateral ones with low ceilings. The brick facade consists of a semicircular arch and niche. The tower with four semicircular arches, is topped by a hemispherical dome covered in ceramic.

In the 17th century the Hermitage of Holy Christ of the True Cross was built, which also had some later reforms. It consists of a single nave and inside it houses a beautiful polychrome wooden altarpiece from the 18th century, located on the main altar.

In the oldest part of Benarrabá, in Cabildo Square, you will find an 18th century house, Casa Lola (Lola House). Most of its characteristics are common with the rest of the houses of this time in the town, but this one stands out for its original facade full of symbols and details, among which the Lauburu, of the Celtic tradition, is recognized.

In addition to these monuments and sites of interest, in the municipality of Benarrabá you can visit and drink water in fountains that are silent witnesses of the passage of time. Some of them are located in the same urban area and others in streams and ravines. Among these fountains, the most notable are the Fuente del Lobo (Wolf Fountain), located a few meters before reaching the junction with the Ronda to Algeciras road, next to Puerto del Espino (Hawthorn Refuge); the Municipal Laundry; the Fuente Mala (Bad Fountain), located in the lower part of the town; El Chorruelo, located on the route to El Llano del Rey (The King Plain); the Fuente Fresca (Fresh Fountain), located in the oldest part of the urban nucleus, or the Fuente del Mañero (Mañero Fountain), located on the path to Cerrillo La Cruz (Cross Hill).

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What to do in Benarrabá

The municipality of Benarrabá offers a wonderful natural landscape, with one of the most lush forests in the entire province of Málaga.

So that you can get to know all the natural surroundings that Benarrabá contains, there are some hiking routes that will allow you to discover the corners that the municipality houses.

One of these routes is the Benarrabá - Algatocín Trail PR-A 239, a linear route of 3.3 km of easy travel with the presence of large cork oaks, gall oaks, pines and at the end of the route chestnut trees. The main attraction of the route are the views over the Genal Valley and the towns of Benarrabá and Algatocín.

Another route is the Benarrabá - Genalguacil Trail PR-A 240. It is a linear path 4.9 km long, with steep downhill and uphill slopes and that runs through the basin of the Infernillo Stream to the Genal River. The dominant vegetation on this route are the cork oaks and gall oaks, which merge with the riverside vegetation in the lower part. From the Genal River, in the well-known Prado de la Escribana (Escribana Field), the path climbs continuously between cork oaks until it reaches the peaks of Sierra Bermeja and, a little further south, Sierra Crestellina.

A longer route is the Montes de Benarrabá Trail PR-A 397, with 11.3 km of distance that will allow you to know almost all of the public mountains of Benarrabá. These mountains are located to the south of the town's urban center and are occupied by a well-preserved cork oak forest with gall oaks.

Moving on to the local trails, in Benarrabá you will find a route such as El Concoste - La Portá Trail SL-A 175. It is a circular path 4.1 km long that surrounds the mountains that surround Benarrabá town, with a short route but demanding.

Another circular trail is the Llanos del Rey Trail SL-A 215, with a 7.9 km route that will allow you to travel through La Loma, which is the area located northeast of Benarrabá, whose sunny slope looks towards the Infiernillo Stream that separates it from the town and must be waded both on the way out and on the way back.

To finish with the local trails in Benarrabá, you can take the Ornithological Trail SL-A 216, a circular route of 5.8 km that will allow you to travel the southeast part of the municipality, visiting very different enclaves in search of the best and most varied locations for bird watching. To do this, it passes through the shady and sunny areas, descends to the bottom of the valleys and goes through the main tree formations and scrubland in the municipality.

One of the stages of the Great Path of the Serranía de Ronda GR-141 passes through Benarrabá. This is a six-stage trail that runs through the Genal Valley and the Guadiaro Valley. The roads that compose it are of muleteers that communicated the Serranía de Ronda with Gibraltar and that require a good physical condition due to the state of the terrain and the constant ups and downs it has.

  • Stage 03, El Colmenar - Benarrabá - It is a demanding path of 18.7 km of linear path that will allow you to cross the ridge that separates the Genal Valley from the Guadiaro Valley, going from El Colmenar, near Gaucín town, to Benarrabá.
  • Stage 04, Benarrabá - Benalauría - A 12.3 km stage between Benarrabá and Benalauría, which offers you the best of the Genal Valley with steep slopes, both uphill and downhill.

Also, if you prefer to do sports within the urban nucleus, Benarrabá has a sports court and a municipal swimming pool, as well as a municipal gym.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Benarrabá

In Benarrabá there are different celebrations throughout the year, although without a doubt the ones with the greatest popularity and devotion are those dedicated to the local patrons.

In chronological order, the first celebration you will find in Benarrabá is the Interpretation of the Auto-Sacramental of the Three Wise Men, which takes place on January 5. It consists of a live representation, by the residents of the town, of several scenes of this Auto-Sacramental, in which the children and youth of the town, representing pages, kings, shepherds, counselors and angels, form a procession guided by a star, as tradition has it, in this case carried by a donkey. The Three Wise Men ride on mules decorated for the occasion. After the representation of various acts in the streets and most typical corners of Benarrabá, accompanied by the public singing Christmas carols, it ends in the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation where all the gifts are delivered.

In the days next to January 20, the Saint Sebastian Patron Saint Festivities are celebrated. After the procession and religious acts, a festival with music and dance takes place.

Carnivals take place in the first half of February. During its celebration, costume contests are held and there are performances by groups of chirigotas and comparsas.

At the end of February, the last weekend of the month, you can attend the Serranía de Ronda Gastronomic Fair. It is a tourist event whose objective is to make Benarrabá town, its products and its gastronomy known to all the visitors gathered. For this purpose, a tent is set up in the True Cross Square, where tastings are offered at different stands and different activities and children's workshops are carried out.

In the month of March or April, depending on the year, Holy Week is celebrated throughout the country. The uniqueness of Holy Week in Benarrabá takes place on Good Friday with the Via Crucis exit of Christ of the True Cross, walking through the streets of the town and visiting the sick people. Also of great importance is the act known as Huerto del Niño (Kid Orchard), in which the residents of Benarrabá, on Holy Saturday night, make True Cross Square an orchard with vegetables, oranges and lemons collected from their orchards. This place is used as a setting on Easter after the celebration of Holy Mass, when Saint John, laden with oranges and lemons, and the Virgin, in search of her son, points to the orchard, where she can find him. All of this takes place in an emotional theatrical performance.

The weekend closest to June 24th the Pilgrimage of Saint John takes place in a large space located at the confluence of the Genal River and the Almárchal River. People camp near the river, since it is the beginning of the bathing season in it. A festival with music and other activities is organized. The celebration is held jointly with the neighboring Genalguacil town.

In mid-August the Benarrabá Fair and Cultural Week are held, during which different initiatives are launched that attract a large audience to the municipality. With its celebration it is intended to publicize the cultural aspects of Benarrabá and Serranía de Ronda region, with exhibitions of artisans, musical and folkloric performances, debates, sports activities and, as a culmination, the flamenco festival “La Luna Mora del Genal”.

Finally, for four days around September 29, you will be able to attend the Saint Michael Patronal Fair. On the same day, the image of the patron is taken out in procession with great devotion. Benarrabá town lives the party intensely with the daytime fair and night festivals. In addition, different sports activities, dance competitions and horse rides are developed.

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Gastronomy of Benarrabá

The gastronomy of Benarrabá, like the rest of the municipalities of the Genal Valley, is linked to seasonality. Thus in spring the protagonists are stews with wild herbs such as common golden thistles, fennels, bladder campions or wild asparagus. Hot gazpacho is eaten in winter, fresh gazpacho in summer, and mushrooms in autumn.

Outside of this season, you can taste delicacies in Benarrabá such as serrana pot, chickpea stew, meat, rabbit stews, dishes and sausages from pork, such as large blood sausage, blood sausages, chorizos and salami, tripe, stew and meat salmorejo, as well as a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.

In confectionery, showing off its Moorish tradition, include pastry sweet, sweet fritter and candied pine-nuts.

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