What to do and what to see in Alhaurín el Grande

The municipality of Alhaurín el Grande is located in the southern center of the province of Málaga, within the region of the Guadalhorce Valley. Covering an area of 73.1 km², it extends along the northern slope of Sierra de Mijas and the valley of Guadalhorce River, where citrus, subtropical and other fruit crops such as peaches, apricots, nectarines and pears alternate.

Sierra de Mijas is classified as a Mountain Complex of Environmental Interest, with maximum protection due to its landscape and geomorphological values. It is populated by a lush pine forest and in it is Puerto de los Pescadores (Fishermen Refuge), a natural passage from the interior to the coast used over time. Peaks such as Tajo de la Yedra (Ivy Sheer Drop), Tajo del Águila (Eagle Sheer Drop) and Tajo del Caballo (Horse Sheer Drop) stand out. In addition, the mountains are home to a large aquifer, giving rise to a large number of sources, such as Fuente del Acebuche (Olive Tree Fountain), where it is located in one of the most splendid natural spaces in the mountains. It is one of the must-sees, with several marked hiking and cycling routes. From here you can get spectacular panoramic views, as in the so-called Casa del Guardamontes (Park Ranger House).

Alhaurín el Grande borders Cártama to the north, Alhaurín de la Torre to the east, Mijas to the south and Coín to the west.

History of Alhaurín el Grande

The first testimonies of the presence of man in the lands of Alhaurín el Grande correspond to the Neolithic, as shown by the findings found in Huertas Altas (High Orchards) and near the Casa Forestal (Forest House).

Later, with the arrival of the Phoenicians in Alhaurín el Grande and later the Greeks, the area experienced a great advance in the agricultural sector, as they abandoned their methods of cultivating the land, grafting olive trees and pruning vineyards.

During the Roman occupation, different settlements were produced in various areas of Alhaurín el Grande, such as Fuente del Sol (Sun Fountain), Huerta del Niño (Child Orchard), Dehesa Baja (Low Meadow), Camino de Coín (Coín Road) and Alquería (Farmhouse), where numerous remains and objects have been found, such as columns, ceramics and coins, as well as the remains of the aqueduct that existed on Camino de Coín.

After the Visigothic period and during the Arab occupation, the trade, crafts and agriculture of Alhaurín el Grande experienced a strong advance. The origin of the place name is due to this civilization, who called it Alhaurín. In the place where the parish of Alhaurín el Grande currently stands, there was the old mosque. The result of this prosperous period are the almost disappeared Castillo de las Torres de Fahala (Fahala Towers Castle), located in Cerro de la Reina (Queen Hill), Torre de Al-Qayria de Urique (Al-Qayria de Urique Tower), Arco del Cobertizo (Shed Arch), one of the entrance doors to the walled town, and sugar mill hydraulic systems such as Morisco de los Corchos Mill. These remains and other sites from this period explain the strategic importance of Alhaurín el Grande during this period, as well as its role within the historical framework of Al-Andalus.

In 1485 the town was conquered by Christian troops and incorporated into the Crown of Castile, and in 1492 it became a Council. It was the Catholic Monarchs who added the adjective "el Grande" to distinguish it from its neighbor, Alhaurín de la Torre.

In this period the current Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation was built on an old fortress and institutions such as the Council, the Granary or the Real Hospital de Santa Catalina Mártir (Saint Catalina Martyr Royal Hospital) were added to its surroundings.

In the seventeenth century, the residents of Alhaurín el Grande bought their jurisdiction from the Crown, the town being included in the so-called Four Villas Jurisdiction of a Corregidor, to which they belonged, apart from Alhaurín el Grande, Álora, Cártama and Coín.

In the 18th century, Alhaurín el Grande town grew and some christians buildings were built, such as the Hermitages of Anguish Christ, the Hermitage of Saint Gaudencio, the Convent Caves, as well as palaces and stately homes, such as the Montellano Palace, which had the largest winery in Andalusia.

In addition, during the period from the 15th to the 18th century, Alhaurín el Grande town experienced great urban development, moving the centre of the town to Baja Square and Cilla Street, thus appearing new streets.

At present, the economy of Alhaurín el Grande is based mainly on commerce and agriculture.

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What to see in Alhaurín el Grande

Alhaurín el Grande has a wide cultural heritage, with elements corresponding to the different civilizations that have passed through the municipality. This will allow you to better understand the history and how the town has evolved over the years.

In the Town Hall Square you will see the Roman Columns, located at the door of the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall. Next to them is the commemorative plaque of the bicentennial of the Spanish Independence War (1808-2008). It is a must-see for this reason and for the spectacular views of the Guadalhorce Valley offered by the Convent Viewpoint, located in the same square.

Monuments from the Arab period in Alhaurín el Grande include the Arco del Cobertizo (Shed Arch), which is located behind the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation, in the Bajondillo Neighborhood. It dates from the 12th century and was part of the wall that protected the town, next to the souk where the agricultural products of the town and its surroundings were sold.

Also from the Arab period, you can find on the outskirts of Alhaurín el Grande the Ruins of the Fahala Fortress or Castillo de la Reina (Queen Castle), in an area known as Torres de Fahala (Fahala Towers). Located on the plain of a hill of about 230 meters of altitude, with an area close to 20,000 square meters and a height in the canvases of its walls of up to five meters and two meters thick. It served as a defensive post and silo for the grain obtained from the crops. Nowadays, there are remains of walls, ceramics, tiles and bricks.

On the so-called Cuesta de los Valientes (Braves Slope), in a wonderful setting on the banks of the Fahala River, is the Morisco de los Corchos Mill. Recognized as Andalusia Real Estate Heritage, it is one of the few flour mills from the Arab period that are preserved in Spain. It was driven by the motive force of water, using the stone grinding wheel system. From 1905 to 1941 he was dedicated to grinding cork, which was used to preserve grapes and pomegranates.

Ending the Arab period, built between the 14th and 15th centuries in Alhaurín el Grande, you will be able to appreciate the Torre de Al-Qayria de Urique, the only watchtower of this style, apart of the one of Cañete la Real, which is preserved. Its access doors are located high, so that they could only access it with the help of a ladder. From its battlements you can get impressive views of Guadalhorce Valley. The tower, thirteen meters high, also has a dungeon that is currently covered.

Entering the Christian era you will find the Hermitage of Saint Sebastian, which dates from the 15th century and is the oldest in Alhaurín el Grande. Originally, it could be an ancient Arab sanctuary converted into a Christian hermitage in honor of Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of Alhaurín el Grande. Inside, the image of Jesus Nazarene is venerated and worshiped by the brotherhood that bears his name. With a rectangular ground plan topped with a dressing room, it has two lateral sacristies, one of which is used as a warehouse and the other as a Boardroom.

In 1505 the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation was built on the ruins of an old mosque, of Gothic origin and with neoclassical reforms. It has been declared a Cultural Interest Asset and consists of three naves in the shape of a cross and a tower with a square plan and an octagonal bell tower. Inside it houses the image of the Virgin of Grace, patron saint of Alhaurín el Grande, dating from 1937, as well as a neoclassical and baroque altarpiece from 1959.

Another Christian temple that you can see in Alhaurín el Grande is the Hermitage of Holy True Cross, of which there are references to its existence since 1542. It was ceded to the Franciscans in 1750. In 1812 it was destroyed by the French, and its rehabilitation began in 1904 and concluded in 1921. Inside it houses the image of the Christ of Holy Cross, as well as the Holy Mary of Solitude and the Holy Sepulcher.

In the eighteenth century, different constructions were carried out that are still important within the cultural heritage of Alhaurín el Grande. One of these constructions is the Saint Raphael Gate, a wrought iron arch built in the 18th century, embedded in a semicircular arch that led to the Saint Raphael Farm, which was part of a chaplaincy.

Another of these 18th century buildings is the Hermitages of Anguish Christ, with a simple structure and dating from 1783, indicated by the inscription on the facade, at the expense and request of Francisco Vicente de Burgos. In it the Anguish Christ is worshiped.

The Hermitage of Saint Anthony, also from the 18th century, is located in the upper part of the town, in El Chorro Neighborhood and worships Saint Anthony, patron saint of animals.

To end the 18th century, you will be able to see the Crypt of the old Franciscan convent in the Town Hall, located on the ground floor of the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall, which occupies the place that was the former Real Hospital de Santa Catalina Mártir. These are five old caves, the Convent Caves, which could have belonged to the basement of a castle and which have been rehabilitated to offer cultural events such as conferences or exhibitions.

Located in the lower part of Alhaurín el Grande town is the Fuente Lucena (Lucena Fountain) or Fuente de los Doce Caños (Twelve Pipes Fountain), which consists of twelve pipes and dates from the mid-19th century, although the waters of its fountain were already used by the Romans. It was a meeting place for women who went to wash and even fetch water to take home. Its waters were recommended for first-degree tuberculosis patients. It is known as Fuente Lucena due to a family from Lucena (Córdoba), to whom its construction is attributed.

Finally, in 2004 the Hermitage of Saint Isidore was built in the Saint Isidore Neighborhood, located in the lower part of Alhaurín el Grande town, on the Camino de Coín. Around his festivity he hosts, at the door, a Christian mass.

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What to do in Alhaurín el Grande

Apart from all the monuments and cultural elements that make up the cultural heritage of Alhaurín el Grande, you can visit different museums and institutions where you can learn more about the culture and traditions of the municipality.

On Cross Street you can visit the Bread Museum, where it is shown how bread was formerly made in Alhaurín el Grande. In this museum you can witness all kinds of materials used in the past for making bread, from basins and Arab ovens to an Arab mill. It also has a presentation room and a grinding room. It is the first in Spain of its kind.

You will find the Agriculture Museum on the top floor of the building that also houses the Alhaurín el Grande Wholesale Market. It is an important tourist reference and in its facilities you will be able to see a collection of more than 200 original pieces of agricultural, livestock and traditional use, such as Roman plows, daggerboards or ceramic basins, as well as tools for threshing, tillage, tasks fig bread or esparto grass.

Nueva Street contains the Casa-Hermandad Museo de la Real Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno (House-Brotherhood Museum of the Royal Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazarene), with an exhibition of the brotherhood's procession equipment, as well as the exhibition of pieces of the trousseau of Saintly Mary and Our Father Jesus. It has a unique facade that is covered with tile.

Next to the roundabout of the cross you will find the Ildefonso Marzo Municipal Library, a building consisting of three floors and equipped with the latest technologies. It houses two foundations, one is the Gustavo Thörlichen Foundation, which houses all of his pictorial work, with some 2,500 originals and which is located on the first floor. On the second floor is the Gerald Brenan Foundation, which contains more than 5,000 volumes from his personal library and a collection of photographs donated by the illustrious Hispanicist. In addition, the library has a magnificent auditorium with capacity for 250 people and an exhibition hall with a long history.

In 2010, the Antonio Gala Municipal Theater was inaugurated, which has a stalls with capacity for 500 people, rehearsal room, dressing rooms and bar-cafeteria. Functional, versatile and multipurpose, its interior features a color scheme that plays with red tones and elegant wood finishes, as well as unique architectural and decorative details, as well as a poem that Antonio Gala dedicated to Alhaurín el Grande on one of the walls. You will be able to enjoy some of the works that are represented in it.

To finish with the cultural field, you can visit the Culture House, located in an emblematic building from the mid-19th century. Workshops, courses, exhibitions and exhibitions take place inside.

In addition, Alhaurín el Grande has a tradition of musical culture, with six bands and three choirs.

Once you have a better understanding of the history and culture of Alhaurín el Grande, it is time for you to explore the physiognomy of the environment. To get closer to nature, you have the option of visiting one of the parks within Alhaurín el Grande town or taking a hiking route through its natural environment.

If your interest is to stay away from the urban area as little as possible, Alhaurín el Grande offers a wide variety of parks and municipal public gardens of great beauty and careful design. Among those with the greatest charm is the Freedom Park, inaugurated in 2006, it has a green area of about 4,400 m², distributed over three levels of height, with native trees, Mediterranean shrubs, flora and aromatic plants and waterfalls. In addition, it also has a viewpoint and playground. Other public spaces that you can visit in Alhaurín el Grande are the Huertas Altas Park, the Nacimiento Park, the Palomar Park, the Arquilla del Agua Park, the Huerto Mateo Viewpoint, the Alcalde Antonio Solano Fair Park, the Hunchback Park or the Lizard Park.

On the other hand, if you prefer to know the nature that borders the municipality of Alhaurín el Grande, you will have the opportunity to take one of the hiking routes through the different corners of the town.

One of the routes, the Lauro Golf-Fuente de Jarapalos Route, is 6 km long, with a low level of difficulty. During the itinerary you will have the opportunity to visit the Sierra de Mijas, a natural space with a great botanical attraction due to the great wealth of plant species and their rarity. It should be noted the large number of endemisms, more than forty, found in such a small area. In addition, you will have the opportunity to enjoy its forest made up of Thermo-Mediterranean holm oaks, in some cases quite degraded and in a place repopulated with Aleppo pine, stone pine or maritime pine, leaving only small spots of well-preserved holm oak. The grasslands are also very interesting, as they present most of the endemisms. Most of the route takes place through a repopulation of Aleppo pine. Already in the Jarapalos area, which was a forest nursery in its time, you will be able to appreciate planted species that, although interesting, are not typical of the area, such as chestnut, Portuguese oak or Aleppo pine.

In the same way, in the part of Sierra de Mijas corresponding to Alhaurín el Grande, you will be able to observe an extensive variety of its fauna such as the Iberian ibex, the badger, the genet, the marten, the wild cat or the common hedgehog; in addition to birds such as the golden eagle, the Bonelli's eagle, the nuthatch, the common hopper and the chickadee. In the surroundings of fountains and water courses, you will be able to witness the common salamander or the pintojo frog.

On the way you will also find watering holes, mines, forests and pools where you can rest. At the end of the tour you will arrive at the Fuente de Jarapalos (Jarapalos Fountain), whose water level depends on how the rains have been throughout the year. However, this fountain always carries water despite being at a recognized altitude and in it you can drink fresh water of natural purification.

The other route that you can take around Alhaurín el Grande is the Fuente del Acebuche Route, a circular path of about 6.5 km long, with a medium difficulty level. It takes place in the area known as Fuente del Acebuche, located at the foot of the north face of the Sierra de Mijas, under a lush pine forest, which makes it the great orchard of Alhaurín el Grande.

The start of the route takes place in a forest lane that begins with a gentle but constant climb, and ends at a crossroads of roads and lanes. You will have to continue to the left, and then face almost a kilometer of climb that is somewhat harder than the initial one, reach the highest point of the route and enjoy good panoramic views. Thus, in this area the pine forest opens up and allows you to see not only Alhaurín el Grande and neighboring towns but also a large part of the Guadalhorce Valley. After doing a practically flat route for a few meters, the route begins to descend slightly until it reaches the starting point.

The route takes place for a good part under the shade of Aleppo pines, which form a beautiful forest to enjoy at any time of the year. At the foot of the pines, you will see numerous palm hearts. Other varieties of its arboreal flora that you can observe are carob trees, holm oaks, wild olive trees and almond trees, a wide variety of Mediterranean shrubs, such as mastic, juniper, rockrose, cornicabra or spurge flax, and different aromatic species, such as rosemary, matagallo, thyme or fennel.

It is also a route of great wildlife interest and you will be able to observe numerous species of birds such as the peregrine falcon, the common buzzard, the goshawk, the hawk, the golden eagle, the short-toed eagle, the booted eagle, the Bonelli's eagle, the shrike, the bee-eater or chickadee, among others. In addition, you will see different types of mammals, such as Iberian ibex, foxes, hedgehogs and weasels. To this we must add some interesting reptiles and amphibians, such as frogs, toads or collared snake.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Alhaurín el Grande

In the municipality of Alhaurín el Grande there are numerous celebrations that take place throughout the year. Some of religious origin, others of cultural origin, but always with the uniqueness that this town represents.

The first celebration that you can enjoy in the year in Alhaurín el Grande is on January 17 and belongs to the Saint Anthony Festivity, with the traditional mass in the Hermitage of Saint Anthony. Subsequently, the blessing of animals and pets takes place, then the procession of Saint Anthony through the streets of the El Chorro Neighborhood and finally the traditional tasting of donuts and chocolate takes place.

Three days later, on January 20, the Saint Sebastian Festivity is celebrated by the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazarene. The commemoration begins with floral offerings on Thursday and Friday of that week, and ends on Sunday with the saint's procession to the parish, the celebration of a Eucharist and the return of the image to the hermitage.

In the month of February or early March and for a week, the Carnivals are celebrated in Alhaurín el Grande. Considered the most important in the province of Málaga after those of the capital. With fun and shows for all ages, the Antonio Gala Municipal Theater has a stage where you can enjoy them, although initially it is for the little ones, with free admission until full capacity is reached. From Monday to Thursday, the semifinals of the Villa de Alhaurín el Grande Carnival Groups Contest are held every night, and the fifth night, Friday night, is the final of this contest. On Saturday the Young Carnival is celebrated, with performances by groups and costume parties and the proclamation of the festivities also takes place. Carnival comes to an end on Sunday with the Great Carnival Parade, the costume contest and the traditional Burning of the Sardine.

Holy Week, takes place in the month of March or April, depending on the year, and in it the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus are commemorated by the two congregations of Alhaurín el Grande, the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazarene (the moraos) and the Brotherhood of Holy True Cross (the green ones). Among the activities carried out, it is worth highlighting the live staging of the Passion of Christ and the processional outings. It is a good opportunity to experience Holy Week in Andalusia, since it has been declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest of Andalusia.

From May 1 to 3, the Day of the Cross is celebrated in Alhaurín el Grande, one of its great festivals, where the Brotherhood of Holy True Cross organizes different acts and religious cults, as well as parades of marching bands and various processions in honor to the Christ of the True Cross. During these festivals, the town is adorned with crosses covered in flowers and green cloths on its balconies.

It is also worth mentioning the Festivities in honor of Mary Helper, in the hamlet of Villafranco del Guadalhorce, with the pilgrimage on May 1 and the fair at the beginning of July.

The weekend closest to May 15, Saint Isidore the Laborer Day, the Cachorreña Festival is celebrated in Alhaurín el Grande, declared a Provincial Tourist Singularity Festival, with the aim of promoting and raising awareness of traditional livestock and agriculture of the area. Its celebration begins with a Eucharist in honor of Saint Isidore and, around noon, all attendees are offered a tasting of cachorreña and mojete of Alhaurín, along with other products from the area. Also during the day, a fruit and vegetable contest, live culinary demonstrations, gastronomic tasting of international dishes, classic car shows and a bobbin event are organized that each year has more than 250 participants. Likewise, activities are organized for the little ones. All of this enlivened with live music and the usual festival.

At the end of May, the Alhaurín el Grande Fair is held, one of the most representative fairs in the province of Málaga. It begins on Wednesday and ends on Sunday, coinciding with the last Sunday in May. It takes place in the fairgrounds located in the urban area. Two booths are set up, one for young people, set with music and drinks, and the municipal booth. On Friday and Saturday, the day fair is held in the streets of the historic center, and both during the day and at night fair you can enjoy different performances and scheduled events. Finally, on Sunday at midnight there is a fireworks show, which ends the festivities.

Eight days after Corpus Christi, the Jesus Day is celebrated in Alhaurín el Grande, in which the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazarene organizes different acts and religious cults, in addition to carrying out parades of bands and processions through the town in honor to Our Father Jesus Nazarene. As in the feast of the Day of the Cross, the balconies are also adorned with purple cloths.

Three days prior to August 15, the Festival of Our Lady of Grace, patron saint of Alhaurín el Grande, is celebrated, visiting three neighborhoods in the town, which are decorated for this purpose. On the 15th, the Virgin of Grace is taken out in procession, which is carried by the young people who reach the age of majority that year.

The second week of September is celebrated the Pilgrimage in honor of the Christ of the Agonies. The festival begins with a mass in the town's parish, and continues with a parade of floats and horsemen that accompany the image of Christ to Finca de la Mota (Mota Country State). In this area there is a day where all attendees enjoy a picnic.

In addition to the fairs and celebrations with religious motives, other festivities take place in Alhaurín el Grande. An example is the presentation of the Gerald Brenan Short Story Contest Award. This prestigious contest takes place in January and receives more than 2,400 literary stories from Spain, Europe and Latin America each year.

During two weekends in March the gastronomic event Tapas en Cuaresma takes place, which is organized by the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall, whose objective is to promote the restaurants of Alhaurín el Grande. It is a contest with two prizes, one popular voted by the people who have filled in their "cover" and another professional that will be awarded by a chef of recognized prestige; both receive a badge and free publicity on local television.

Other gastronomic event in Alhaurín el Grande is the Gastronomic Days El Sabor de La Semana Santa. It is an initiative of the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall that, in collaboration with local businessmen, each year highlights the typical local products of Holy Week. More than twenty pastry shops and restaurants in the municipality participate in it, offering typical Holy Week dishes and pastry products.

Related to culture, you can find the Antonio Gala International Poetry Prize. Every year in the month of July this prestigious award is presented, organized by the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall, endowed with 6,000 euros and which is accessed by young people between 18 and 35 years old with poetic works written in Spanish. It is one of the most prestigious at the international level for its financial endowment, for the quality of the authors who appear each year and for the high recognition of the jury that values the works.

Also in July, the Young Music Contest takes place, with the purpose of promoting the musical creativity of young people, this award is presented organized by the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall, which is accessed by young people between 18 and 35 years old, who soloists or groups of any musical genre work, study or reside in the national territory. The finalists are invited to a live performance at a festival on the occasion of the awards ceremony.

And to make this month of culture more concrete, in July the Villa de Alhaurín el Grande Flamenco Night takes place, where leading figures of flamenco gather, with an audience attendance of more than 1,500 people.

In August art, concerts, magic, astronomy and children's activities come together thanks to the Éo Noé Creative Night. During this night the different disciplines are staged in the route that runs between the Ildefonso Marzo Municipal Library and the Culture House. It is an initiative of the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall, which each year presents a different theme.

Finally, between the months of October and November, the Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall has the Cultural Autumn initiative, in which activities aimed at all audiences are organized and which includes the representation of plays, presentation of literary works, representation concerts and exhibition of different disciplines of plastic arts, among other proposals. Different public buildings in Alhaurín el Grande are used as the setting for this event.

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Gastronomy of Alhaurín el Grande

For centuries the gastronomy of Alhaurín el Grande has been made up of fruits and vegetables that are grown on its land. Among the most typical products are oranges, mandarins, plums, apricots, pomegranates, avocados, grapes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cauliflowers and chard.

In addition, among many residents the tradition of making oil, seasoned olives and wine among others is maintained for personal consumption, which makes their diet typically Mediterranean.

All this means that, together with other products, a series of typical dishes of Alhaurín el Grande are carried out. Among them, the winter gazpacho, the soup of the pot, the mojete, the cachorreñas and the migas stand out.

Meanwhile, in pastries you can taste the cateto bread, oil buns, allullas and traditional fritters.

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