What to do and what to see in Vélez-Málaga


Vélez-Málaga is located in the eastern part of the province of Málaga. Its municipal area with 156 km2 is the most extensive in the region of La Axarquía. It is of soft orography, standing out as the highest level, Monte de Veas (705 m), located to the northeast. Its lands are bathed by the Vélez River, the most important of the entire basin, to which others such as the Rubite River, the Almanchares River, the Benamargosa River, the Almáchar River and the Iznate River flow. It has a very fertile and large area, where crops of vegetables and subtropical plantations are developed.

Its mild climate, its geographical situation in the region and its coastal position, allows Vélez-Málaga to enjoy a great variety of landscapes and natural charms throughout the year, both on the coast with its 22 kilometers of wide and clean beaches, as well as in the north with the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park. Also of its historical-artistic monuments, archaeological remains, its gastronomy, its festivals, traditions and cultural activities, and of its people that surpass the 65,000 inhabitants, crossing all the corners of its numerous population centers, some coastal as Torre del Mar, Chilches, Benajarafe, Valle-Niza, Almayate, Caleta de Vélez, Mezquitilla and Lagos, and other inland areas such as Cajiz, Trapiche and Triana.

History of Vélez-Málaga

The first settlements in Vélez-Málaga, possibly were Iberians and then Phoenicians and Greeks. The presence of the Carthaginians left an important imprint next to the mouth of the Vélez River, in the factory of Toscanos (8th century to 6th century BC). Its inhabitants settled down in a near hill, the Cerro del Peñón, place in which some authors locate the Greek City of Mainake, and where they have been found remains of furnaces of smelting and slag of metal, which confirms the existence of industrial exploitations. A little further north, in Cerro de Alarcón, remains of a rectangular building have been found. In Cerro del Mar the ruins of an industrial factory have been located for fish salting and more than 30 sepulchres of the 7th century BC and to the north of Toscanos the Garden Necropolis was located, with more than 100 tombs from the 6th to the 4th century BC.

During the Roman occupation the area was revitalized and populated until the fall of the Lower Empire.

The town of Vélez-Málaga was founded around the tenth century, under Arab domination, around the fortified citadel, inside a walled enclosure, in the highest area and on a relief with an uneven terrain, which would make it more safe against possible enemy attacks. During the 13th to the 15th century, Vélez-Málaga was one of the most important cities of the Nazari Kingdom, with a great growth, which caused the configuration of different suburbs to extrawalls in what is now the neighborhood of the Arroyo de San Sebastián, the Constitution Square and the San Francisco Square.

The conquest of Vélez-Málaga by Christian troops takes place in 1487 and with it the implantation of a new social formation, which translates into an architectural renewal based on the needs of the implantation of the new established power, thus proposes the ordination of new public squares, civil and above all religious buildings; situation that is exacerbated in the seventeenth century, and the Constitution Square and San Francisco Square become nerve centers of the city, a situation that has lasted almost to this day.

The city also lived the Moorish uprising of the mid-sixteenth century and ended the battle at the Fort of Frigiliana and the final Arab expulsion.

Vélez-Málaga played an important role during the War of Succession, since it was in its waters where the Naval Battle of Málaga was fought and that faced the Spanish-French and Anglo-Dutch fleets, leaving, Vélez-Málaga, very damaged.

The 18th century was especially favorable for the city, with significant growth, temples and public buildings were built and repaired, and urban infrastructures were restored.

On the other hand, the nineteenth century was very negative, the yellow plague of 1804 decimated the population a lot, dying more than half of its inhabitants. The Napoleonic invasion and the creation of a Frenchified government, divided the population into two camps that would contest the government throughout the century. Later they came to several epidemics of cholera, the phylloxera destroyed the vineyards and the earthquake of 1884 finished finishing the situation.

Today the city of Vélez-Málaga proudly shows its legacy, and presents itself to the world as a modern city, the nerve center of the La Axarquía region.


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What to see in Vélez-Málaga

The old town of Vélez-Málaga was declared an Artistic Historic Site in 1970. Its origin dates back to the last centuries of Arab domination. The urban structure of faithful Islamic heritage, disorderly and narrow contrasts with its buildings product of the settlement of large Christian families that turned the city during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries into an important commercial and residential square. Sample of it, is the story that is made of them, below.

Royal Convent of Santiago: Located in the San Francisco Square, it was built on an old mosque, consecrated as a parish by the Catholic Monarchs after the conquest of the city, it was later ceded to the Franciscan friars. What was initially a church of Mudejar art, suffered innumerable transformations during the sixteenth, seventeenth and especially the eighteenth centuries. Formed by two naves, where the main one is closed by a half-barrel vault with lunettes and arches fajones. Inside it has a beautiful decoration with 18th century plasterwork of plant motifs.

Palace of the Marquises of Beniel: Located in the San Francisco Square, was built at the beginning of the seventeenth century in Mudejar style with Renaissance touches, the construction of brick and stone rises around a courtyard with arches of reduced halves that rest on Tuscan columns. The facade has a marble facade and wrought iron balconies, the main under curved pediment and framed by two shields. On the third floor there is a gallery and on the south side a beautiful staircase with a Renaissance paneling of hexagonal pieces that leads to the main floor. It is the most important civil architectural work in the city, and throughout history has been the residence of the captains general of the coast, City Hall and now headquarters of the María Zambrano Foundation (an important twentieth century thinker).

Hermitage of the Virgin of the Remedios: Located in the Cerro of San Cristóbal, from her the whole city is dominated. It was built in the middle of the 17th century, suffering important later reforms. It rises on a Latin cross plan, covered by half-barrel vaults, lunettes and arches fajones, and the transept topped with hemispherical dome on pendentives. Inside it stands out the dressing room of the Virgin (patron of the city) of square plant with decoration of the Rococo style. Throughout history, has generated great devotion and is very dear to the residents of the city.

Cervantes House: This manor house, located on San Francisco Street, has a beautiful facade with large wrought-iron balconies and a lintel doorway, framed by a cord. The main entrance communicates with a beautiful square courtyard with gallery raised on arches and brick columns. It is believed that Miguel de Cervantes stayed there during his stay in the village in his duties as a collector at the end of the sixteenth century.

Cross of the Arrabal: Located on Zilla Street, it was erected to commemorate the capture of the city in 1487. It is a small temple of eight meters wide with round arches, which holds a simple cross inside.

Cross of the Lamb: Located in the Pilar neighborhood, it has the same as the previous commemorative character. It is formed by a brick temple, which contains a simple wooden cross.

Hermitage of San Sebastián: Located on Arroyo San Sebastián street, in a ruinous state. It was founded by the Catholic Monarchs in 1487. The most important of this monument is the commemorative event to which it refers, it was built in honor of Sebastián Fernández, who according to tradition, would have saved the life of the king in a Muslim incursion during the taking of Vélez-Málaga. The scene is represented on the shield of the city, lying on the ground and the king on horseback trying to defend it.

Parish of San Juan Bautista: Located in the Constitution Square. It was founded by the Catholic Monarchs after the conquest of the city. It has a basilica floor plan with three naves and a Gothic-Mudejar style transept, underwent several extensions in the 16th century, of which only the exterior remains and the four-storey tower, the first two octagonal, the second two octagonal and finished in pyramidal capital. The interior, after a deep remodeling that suffers in the middle of the 18th century, is masked by false vaults, turning the original ogival arches into semi-circular arches. The cover is of neoclassical style. Inside, there is a large mural that covers the back wall of the presbytery, by the painter Francisco Hernández.

Fountain of Fernando VI: Located on Street of the Tiendas, it was built in 1758. It is formed by a pillar and a frontispiece with four pipes that spring from mythological masks. The upper part frames the commemorative inscription under a semicircular arch on which the royal shield rests and under it, shields with rampant lions.

Chapel of the Virgin of the Piedad: Located in the plaza at the end of Street of the Tiendas. Work of the seventeenth century and reformed in the second half of the eighteenth century. The intentionality of the work is to bring to the street the presence of the divinity. Its entrance is under a semicircular arch framed in pilasters and circular pediment and is topped by hexagonal dome and baroque ornaments. Inside it houses images of Our Father Jesus the Rich and Our Lady of the Piedad.

Monastery of Our Lady of Gracia: Located on Las Monjas Street. It dates from the early sixteenth century, although it underwent a profound reform in the second half of the eighteenth century, so its style is late baroque. The church is a single-nave building with polygonal head, covered with barrel vault and lunettes and with a rich decoration typical of the Rococo.

Monastery of Jesus, Maria and Jose: Located in the Las Carmelitas Square. Built during the third decade of the 18th century. In him two parts are distinguished: the church and the convent house. Inside there are two courtyards, the Patio of the Flowers and the Main patio. The church has a single nave with a square head transformed into a dressing room where the image of Our Lady of El Carmen is found. In its facade, the stone portal stands out, with an entrance under a semicircular arch framed by pilasters supporting a triangular pediment. The church presents a rich decoration based on plasterwork and fresco paintings of the Granada school that century. In the convent there is a small wooden skull carved by San Juan de la Cruz.

Royal Door of the Villa: So called when the Catholic Monarchs entered it in 1487 after the conquest of Vélez-Málaga. It is a rectangular tower with access under semicircular arches, located in the San Juan Square, from where the Royal Street of the Villa starts, the main axis of the intricate La Villa neighborhood, located in the upper area of the city, keeping the Arab road distribution of its origins.

Church of Santa María la Mayor: Also known as Church of the Encarnación, is located in the northern part of the La Villa neighborhood. It was built at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the XVI on the place that occupied the old mosque aljama. Gothic-Mudejar style, has a basilica floor without a transept, with three naves divided by rectangular pillars that support pointed arches. The enclosures are of octagonal armor, the bow of the presbytery, of pair and knuckle the central nave and of the lateral hangings. Externally it presents a square tower, made of brick and reusing the old minaret of three bodies, and a gallery raised on arches. In its interior it is worth mentioning the altarpiece of the main altar, a 16th century Renaissance-style work. Under the temple, its old cistern is still preserved, with the well and the crypt.

Fortress or Alcazaba: Located next to the Church of Santa María, at the highest point of the city, irregular plant that adapts to the ground. Built with thick walls, there is no document that reflects its origin, and it is from the thirteenth century when it acquired special prominence to become between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in one of the most important fortresses of the Nazari Kingdom. After the conquest of the city became Royal House and later in general captaincy, barracks, jail and town hall. Finally it was reused during the French invasion at the beginning of the 19th century, then falling into abandonment and almost disappearing. In the sixties the City Council rebuilt its tower and a small part of the walls canvases.

San Juan de Dios Hospital: Located on Granada Street, it was founded by the Catholic Monarchs in 1487 and built on extra walls of the medieval city. The building has undergone many reforms from the seventeenth century to today. It has a church with two naves, the main one with a recessed vault, a small chapel of the main altar at the end of the 18th century. A mudejar brick patio is preserved, with a low gallery of semicircular arches with alfiz on cylindrical pillars, the high cloister has reduced arches.

Graves and Fenician Walls of the Vélez River: This is the city of Mainake that is of Phoenician origin. It is located on a hill on the right bank of the Vélez River, in the vicinity of the N-340 road. It dates from the 8th century BC, in it have been the remains of a factory, a warehouse, port facilities and housing, along with an impressive defensive system. The population left the place at the beginning of the 6th century BC, and was occupied later by the Romans. The whole can be seen from the outside of the enclosure.

Mainoba: Located in the Cerro del Mar, which is in front of Toscanos, on the other side of the Vélez River. It was founded after the abandonment of Toscanos, creating an important urban nucleus that would disappear at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. It has a residential area, a fishing district and an industrial area for salting fish.

Garden Necropolis: Located a short distance north of Toscanos, it was used from the 6th to the 4th century BC, in which they have appeared tombs of diverse typologies as well as rest of offerings. To date some 101 graves are known, excavated mostly in the rock.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Head: Located in the cemetery, it is a small chapel built in the mid-seventeenth century, being remodeled in the second half of the nineteenth century with neoclassical style. Of a single ship, this one is covered with vault of half tube with arcs fajones; the main chapel is finished off with a hemispherical vault on pendentives. Inside, the Rococo decoration of the dressing room of the Virgin stands out.


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What to do in Vélez-Málaga

In Vélez-Málaga we can find different attractions with which to spend the day, such as visiting one of its beaches. And is that near Vélez-Málaga, we can find different beaches to cool off in the summer season.

Chilches beach: Semi-urban beach with dark sand, is located about 18 km from Málaga, has an extension of 2.5 km and a width of about 25 meters, located next to the N-340 road, you can access it by car, it has a parking area. It has showers or foot washes, umbrellas and hammocks can be hired and in the area there are restaurants where you can eat.

Benajarafe beach: Semi-urban beach with dark sand, is located about 20 km from Málaga, has an extension of 1.6 km and a width of about 30 meters, located next to the N-340 road, you can access it by car, it has a parking area. It has showers or foot washes, bins, children area, umbrellas and hammocks can be hired and in the area there are restaurants where you can eat. For the services it offers, it has been awarded the Blue Flag for the past few years.

Valle Niza beach: Located next to the Benajarafe beach, it is a semi-urban beach with dark sand, is located about 22 km from Málaga, has an area of 2.4 km and a width of about 25 meters, located next to the N-340 road, you can access it by car, it has a parking area. It has showers or foot washes, children area, umbrellas and hammocks can be hired and in the area there are restaurants where you can eat.

Bajamar beach: Located next to the Almayate beach, it is a warm sandy beach, located about 25 km from Málaga, has an extension of 0.8 km and a width of about 25 meters. The level of occupation is low because it has few services. The lack of a promenade influences its level of occupation, which, together with the good weather, means that some bathers have used the beach to practice nudism.

Almayate beach: Located between the Bajamar beach and the Torre del Mar beach, it is a secluded beach of dark sand, is located about 30 km from Málaga, has an area of 2.8 km and a width of about 30 meters. The absence of promenade and the fact that it is a virgin and very isolated beach, have made it one of the best nudist beaches in Spain. Several accommodations and campsites are located near the beach, among which is a naturist campsite.

Torre del Mar beach: The urban beach of Torre del Mar is a beach of dark sand, ideal to go with family. It is located about 34 km from Málaga, has an area of 2 km and a width of about 40 meters. It can be accessed by car, it has a parking area. It has showers or foot washes, litter bins, children area and umbrellas and hammocks can be hired. It has a promenade that gives the area a great atmosphere, as well as a variety of beach bars and restaurants where you can eat. For the services it offers, it has been awarded the Blue Flag in 2018 and has the "Q" of quality.

Las Arenas beach: Semi-urban beach with dark sand, is located about 36 km from Málaga, has an area of 1.3 km and a width of about 36 meters, located next to the beach of Torre del Mar for its eastern area, you can access it by car, it has a parking area, sports area and yacht club. It has showers or foot washes, bins, children area, umbrellas and hammocks can be hired and in the area there are restaurants where you can eat. It is next to other beaches that are the most valued by tourists, such as Torre del Mar, Nerja or Caleta de Vélez.

La Caleta beach: Located next to Harbor of the Caleta de Vélez, it is an urban beach with dark sand, distinguished by its quality and services. It is located about 38 km from Málaga, has an area of 1 km and a width of about 40 to 70 meters. It can be accessed by car, it has a parking area. It has showers or foot washes, litter bins, children area and umbrellas and hammocks can be hired. It has a promenade that gives the area a great atmosphere, as well as a variety of beach bars and restaurants where you can eat. It has a marina that has advanced facilities that allow the practice of all sports. It is the only one on the east coast of Málaga and, therefore, maintains a high occupancy throughout the year. For the services it offers, it has been awarded the Blue Flag in 2018.

Pijil or Lagos beach: It is a semi-urban gravel beach, located in the enclave of Lagos, between the municipalities of Algarrobo and Torrox. It has an extension of 2 km and a variable width between 10 and 50 meters, it can be accessed by car, it has a parking area. It has showers or foot washes and children area.

Apart from visiting some of the different beaches, in Vélez-Málaga we can find other activities to do.

Mouth of the Vélez River: A visit to this mouth is highly recommended as you can see different species such as ducks, grebes, shearwaters, cormorants, herons (from the little bittern to the purple heron), flamingos, raptors, chicks, coots and redfish, skuas, different species of seagulls, nightjars, swifts, hoopoe, bee-eater, rattlesnake and a large number of passerines.

Acuavelis Aquatic Park: Visiting this water park in the summer season is one of the most recommended activities to spend a day in which the whole family has a great time.


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Traditional festivals in Vélez-Málaga

Holy Week, of national tourist interest of the Junta de Andalucía, the Paso de Cajiz, the Royal Fair of San Miguel of Vélez-Málaga, the Fair in honor of Santiago and Santa Ana of Torre del Mar, the Feast of the Virgin of El Carmen, or the pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of the Remedios in Vélez-Málaga and the pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of El Carmen in Torre del Mar, are some of the best-known festivals in the municipality of Vélez-Málaga. However, we are going to concentrate on the following:

Festival of San Antón: Held in January in Cajiz, in which animals are blessed.

Carnival: It takes place in February and, although it is celebrated throughout the municipality, capital and annexes, its interest is greater in Vélez-Málaga, Torre del Mar, Caleta de Vélez, Almayate, Lagos and Chilches. During its celebration parades and contests of murgas, comparsas, choirs, etc. take place.

Festivity of San José: It is celebrated in March in honor of its patron, on the 19th it is taken out in procession in Triana and accompanied in pilgrimage in Chilches. In Cajiz, it is a fair on days 17, 18 and 19.

In May different pilgrimages are held in different districts of the municipality in honor of their different patterns, so in Almayate is in honor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the 7th; in Cabrillas to the Virgin of Immaculate Conception, on the 27th and 28th; in Torre del Mar to the Virgin of El Carmen, on the 28th; in Caleta de Vélez, Marine Pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin of El Carmen, on the 21st; in Triana for San José, on the 20th and 21st; and in Vélez-Málaga for the Virgin of the Remedios, on the 27th and 28th. There is also a festival in the Pilar neightborhood on days 1, 2 and 3, in honor of the Cross of the Lamb with exhibitions of crosses made of flowers in the streets of the old part of the city and the conquest of Vélez-Málaga by the Catholic Monarchs is commemorated. In the middle of the month, on the 13th, 14th and 15th the Fair of Trapiche takes place in honor of its patron, San Isidro Labrador.

Night of San Juan: It is the night of June 23 to 24 at the Torre del Mar beach and Benajarafe beach with the performance of moragas in which traditional bonfires take place, and musical performances are held. It is also a fair in the districts of Triana and Los Puertas during days 23, 24 and 25, and in Almayate during the last day of June and the first two of July. It is also the pilgrimage of the Virgin of El Carmen in Lagos, on day 4.

Fair of Santiago and Santa Ana: In July it has special relevance in Torre del Mar, during the days 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26, in it the procession is carried out to the Virgin of El Carmen by land and sea, this event It brings people coming from all points of La Axarquía. In this month they also take place, the summer fairs of Caleta de Vélez, days 7, 8 and 9; Benajarafe, days 14, 15 and 16; and Lagos, days 28, 29 and 30. There is also the Veladilla del Carmen in Vélez-Málaga, on days 13, 14, 15 and 16, the latter is held a festival in the Las Melosas neighborhood (Torre del Mar) in honor to the Virgin of El Carmen and processions take place in honor of the Virgin of El Carmen in Caleta de Vélez, Torre del Mar, Almayate and Benajarafe.

Chilches Fair: Held in August on days 13, 14 and 15.

San Miguel Fair: It takes place in September in Vélez-Málaga, with celebrations during the day in the center of the city and at night in the fairgrounds. It takes place on the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th of September and the 1st of October.

In October the pilgrimage of Our Lady of the Rosario takes place in Benajarafe, on the 8th; and in Los Puertas, the pilgrimage in honor of his Patron Saint Juan Bautísta, on the 29th.

Festivity of the Virgin of the Remedios: Patron Saint of Vélez-Málaga, celebrated in November.

Living Bethlehem: Celebrated in December in Almayate.

In addition to these festivals, Holy Week in Vélez-Málaga, which brings together many people coming from all points of the region, is of special relevance.


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Gastronomy and crafts of Vélez-Málaga

The municipality of Vélez-Málaga, integrating both coastal and inland nuclei, offers a wide and very diversified cuisine, so, we can taste the pumpkin stew, porridge, cabbage, ajoblanco, gazpacho, ajobacalao, chambao, maimones, crumbs, the cachorreñas soups and the frying of fish. As desserts are roasted sweet potatoes and tropical orchards mangoes, custard apples, papayas and avocados. In pastry stand the mostachones and oil cakes. As a base and accompaniment of these dishes we can find olive oil and wine from the land, of great quality and produced in the region. We can buy wine from the land and raisins in different wineries and warehouses.

In the craftsmanship, its pottery is famous with the botijo, the amphora or the cariera veleña; the alpargateria and the ashlar masonry. There are also artisans who work tin, forge, cane and wicker.


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