What to do and what to see in Álora

The municipality of Álora is located in the center of the province of Málaga, in the region of the Guadalhorce Valley. With an extension of 169.62 km², it covers a large territory in which the great formations of the Málaga relief are located, where the natural spot of El Chorro stands out with the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, where the famous Caminito del Rey is located, as well as as soft hills of cereal, olive and holm oak, and landscapes of great beauty based on fruit orchards, vegetables and orange groves that cover the bottom of the valley with green dotted with numerous houses of work. Its population reaches 13,000 inhabitants.

Among the neighboring towns of Álora we can find Ardales, Carratraca, Casarabonela, Antequera, Valle de Abdalajís, Pizarra, Almogía and Cártama.

History of Álora

The history of Álora goes back to prehistory in the Hoyo del Conde, a little over a kilometer from the city. Its ecological environment favored human presence, until the tartessos, and the Phoenicians first and then the Iberians, discovered the great commercial possibilities of the area. The foundations of the Álora Castle correspond to the Iberians, who later took advantage of the Romans fortifying it, baptizing the town of Álora with the name of "Iluro". Afterwards, Visigoths and Arabs passed, acquiring with them an important strategic value in the process of Arabization and Islamization of the population, manifested in the change of the Roman name "Iluro" to "Al-Lura". During this period many irrigation ditches and reservoirs were built for irrigation.

Throughout the Middle Ages it was the reason for successive failed assaults by Christian kings, until its conquest in 1484.

The following centuries gave Álora a remarkable prosperity favored by the presence of many illustrious people who lived or came to visit it. The population gradually abandoned the walls of the castle and extended outside its walls, looking for the flatter and more accessible areas contributing to the formation of the germ of the current town. During the reign of Felipe II, the writer Miguel de Cervantes was as collector of the king during a period of seven years.

In the year 1628, during the reign of Felipe IV, it is segregated from the municipality of Málaga.

The arrival of the nineteenth century is marked by the patriotism of the War of Independence, still being hit by bullets in the Tower of the Church, when the plaque commemorating the Constitution of the Cortes of Cádiz was demolished.

With the beginning of the 20th century emigrations begin, especially in America.

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What to see in Álora

Álora has been for centuries one of the main villages in the region of the Guadalhorce Valley. Its deep-rooted history offers a vast artistic heritage made up of its splendid Álora Castle, monumental churches and winding streets laden with tradition.

Álora Castle: Located in the Cerro of the Towers and symbol of the city of Álora. It was built by the Arabs, during the Middle Ages, although its origins are Phoenician and Roman. It is divided into two walled enclosures; the superior, base of the primitive strength, is of square plant with six turrets; the lower one, of irregular form, adapts to the relief based on canvases of masonry wall. Between the two precincts there is a square tower that must have been the Vela Tower of the castle, at whose feet stood the main mosque. From the outside of the castle we can enjoy extraordinary views to the Guadalhorce Valley. The tower of the entrance door gives access to the walled enclosure and is accessed by a horseshoe arch, unique in the west. The Chapel of the Nazarene stands out in this castle, whose peculiar historical trajectory places it in the main mosque in Arab times. After the conquest in Christian times it was converted into a church dedicated to the dedication of Our Lady of the Encarnación. An earthquake in 1680 left it in the state in which we find it today. Next to the castle is the Ali Ben Falcum "al Baezi" Viewpoint, where you can read the Romance of Álora. From here you can see the beautiful landscape of the plain of Álora.

Convent of Our Lady of Flowers: It is located about 2 km from the town of Álora, from where you can enjoy a wonderful and unique landscape. It dates from the sixteenth century. The church has a single nave in whose main altar there is a baroque style dressing room with interesting plasterwork in which the image of the Virgin of Flowers, patron saint of Álora, is located. This image was given by Isabel la Católica in the Reales Alcázares of Sevilla to a group of neighbors of Álora in 1502.

Church of the Veracruz: Located on Veracruz Street. It dates back to the 16th century and was erected to commemorate the victory over the rebellious Moors. The facade is divided into three bodies. In it is the image of piety and a crucified that belongs to the fraternity of the Garden.

Parochial Church of Our Lady of the Encarnación: Located in the Baja Square of la Despedía. It is a symbol for the town along with the Álora Castle, and one of the largest churches of the Diocese of Málaga, after the Cathedral of Málaga. Its construction lasted almost a century, between 1600 and 1699. The church presents a rectangular plan with three naves separated by robust Tuscan columns, which turn round arches in whose spandrels appear paintings of the apostles. Three images are the most relevant sculptural samples, Most Holy Crucified Christ of Students, a Painfull of the 17th century, and the images of the Brotherhood of María Santísima del Amor and Saint Juan Evangelista. In addition, in the nave of the Gospel, a Saint Francis of Assisi, in polychrome wood.

Chapel of Saint Brígida: Built in the sixteenth century. It is located in the Neighborhood of the Station. Here the image of Our Lady of the Head is venerated.

Chapel of the Towers: It was part of the primitive Church of the Encarnación that was located inside the fortress. In the chapel, the images of Our Father Jesus Nazarene of the Towers and María Santísima de las Ánimas are venerated.

Cross of Humilladero: Small commemorative building located near the Convent of Flowers that recalls the symbolic surrender of the keys of Álora by the last alcaide or Muslim military governor of the city Ali Ibn Falcún Al-Baezi to the Catholic Monarchs in June of 1484.

Monument to sing for the “Malagueña”: This monument is chosen to give value to flamenco and in recognition of this palo del cante, essentially from Málaga, born in Álora, birthplace of the “Malagueña”. The work is the idealization of a flamenco allegory.

Hermitage of the Three Crosses: Located in the mounts of Álora, but in the limit of the municipal terms of Almogía, Álora and Cártama. This hermitage is a temple that consists of three naves, each corresponding to one of its three parishes (the three municipalities). However, the one from Pizarra has also been added. In the "May crosses" are the four processions of the aforementioned municipalities. In the interior each town has a small altar.

Typical streets of Álora: Within heritage of Álora we can include some of its emblematic streets such as Barranco Street, Ancha Street, in one of whose first houses there is a plaque that alludes to the stay of Miguel de Cervantes as clerk in Álora between 1587 and 1593. Other streets and important squares are Carril Street, Baja Square, Fuente Arriba Square, La Parra Street, Zapata Street (its antiquity dates back to 1547), Cervantes Avenue or Atrás Street, one of the longest streets of the town that connects the lower part of the town with the high one.

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What to do in Álora

As in any municipality, Álora has different attractions with which to complete a perfect day.

Municipal Museum Rafael Leira: It is housed in the School of Christ, Mudejar construction of the sixteenth century, which was possibly the chapel of the former San Sebastian Hospital, built by the Catholic Monarchs. This precinct was the seat of the Priestly Order of the School of Christ, a denomination that it currently receives. The hall is a quadrangular construction, with eight perimeter pillars and four robust pillars in the center, supporting nine vaulted vaults. It is a place to know the history and artistic heritage of Álora. In it you can see a selection of archaeological pieces that go through the history of Álora.

Ascent to Hacho of Álora: This is the closest mountain to Álora and from here you can get a good view of the Guadalhorce Valley and the town of Álora. Start at the Fountain of la Higuera and you have to take the road that connects with Carratraca. On this route you can see different species of vegetation such as olive trees, wild olives, Aleppo pines and holm oaks, you can also see aromatic plants such as rosemary and thyme. Regarding the fauna we find the griffon vulture, coming from the nearby Sierra de Huma, the golden eagle, the common kestrel, the partridge, the quail and among the mammals the mountain goat, the wild cat and the ferret.

Trail of the Sierra de Aguas: Its route is very close to Carratraca. In this path the pinewood predominates, although you can also see species such as eucalyptus, palmetto, pita, rockrose, heather, rosemary or carob. In the animal world we find the griffon vulture, procendete from Sierra de Huma as in the previous situation, the eagle of Bonelli, the peregrine falcon or the kestrel and among the mammals the mountain goat.

Desfiladero de los Gaitanes: It is an area of great beauty. It is located in El Chorro, 12 kilometers from the urban center. It is a canyon with more than 100 meters high where the Guadalhorce River has cut like a knife. To the walls of this gorge is the famous Caminito del Rey, about 8 kilometers long, closed to the public for years, and again visitable since 2015. Surrounding the gorge or gorge and with a total of 2016 hectares we find the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Place, a landscape of great beauty with spectacular rock formations of different origin and different geological age. The gorge divides the place into two halves, with walls whose falls exceed in some cases the 300 meters. The maximum altitude is in the peak of the Huma, with 1119 meters. This area is a meeting point for lovers of climbing.

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Traditional festivals in Álora

Álora has different festivities, so that tourists can enjoy any of them during their visit.

Holy Week: It is a very venerated date in Álora. This is one of the villages with the most processions in the province of Málaga. They emphasize the descent by the Ancha Street of the Nazarene of the Towers and the Virgin of the Dolores in the Santa Ana Street. On the morning of the Good Friday the ceremony of "La Despedía" takes place, in which the images of Jesus Nazarene of the Towers and the Virgin of the Dolores Coronada say goodbye with three genuflections, from there the Lord says goodbye to the town and goes to the Álora Castle, instead, the Virgin of the Dolores is enclosed in the Church of the Encarnación and is ready to go out by the Night of Solitude.

May Crosses: This festivity is celebrated in the Hermitage of the Three Crosses, located in the limits of the municipalities of Álora, Almogía and Cártama. Its origin dates back to the eighteenth century. It takes place on the first sunday of may and takes place with a Verdiales Festival that brings together a large number of bands from different parts of the province. There are tastings of typical products of the area. The party is declared of National Tourist Interest of Andalusia.

Great Sing Festival: It is organized by the Peña Flamenca of Álora, with the collaboration City Council of Álora. It takes place between july and august. It keeps alive the strong flamenco tradition in Álora.

Fair of Álora: Held in late july and early august. In it different sports activities take place such as domino tournament, Miguel Bootello chess memorial, indoor football, clay pigeon shooting, etc.

Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Flowers: The Virgin of the Flowers is lowered to the Church of the Encarnación to celebrate the day of the patron, on September 8. The following sunday is the pilgrimage, the Virgin is taken from the Church of the Encarnación to the Convent of Flowers. He goes in a cart pulled by oxen and is accompanied by many carts, in addition to horses and various people who accompany him with its sing. At the end of this tour there is a contest to reward the best flamenco costumes, the best couple on horseback and the best float. Along with this takes place numerous dances. People make a meal in the field.

Soup Perotas Day: Its celebration takes place every first Saturday in October at La Despedía Square and gathers many tourists, where a plate of soup is given to each person who approaches the square. Its objective is to promote the typical products of Álora. The soup is a dish that was traditionally prepared by the men and women of Álora in their rest from the work of the fields to take advantage of the bread that had been hard and always using whatever was in the kitchen gardens. The dish has no secret, basically it is a stir-fry with potatoes and bread. There are also those who add oranges, cucumbers, olives, etc.

Al-Loárabe Nights: During the nights of the first weekend of July, the municipality recalls the cultural legacy left by the Arabs in Álora. For this, many streets of the town are decorated, in addition to an Arab market that congregates in the La Despedía Square, there the inhabitants of the municipality put at disposal the typical products of this culture and are dressed in the typical Arab attire, they are also taken to carry out theaters, lectures, speeches, poetry, storytelling, Moroccan food, dances... and the visit to the Álora Castle, since this is the main focus. These activities are intended to promote and provide the cultural legacy of the people and to make known the Muslim and Christian culture.

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Gastronomy of Álora

There are many famous dishes of Álora, but the well-known Soups Perotas are very typical. This dish is usually accompanied by seasonal fruits such as cucumbers and oranges from the area.

Other creations of the place are the bolus, the majillo of asparagus, a kind of gazpacho called "paprika", and the zucchini. In confectionery, sweet potato dumplings, oven door roscos and hazelnut ice cream. On the other hand, the bread of the horses, the olives “aloreñas” and the “quesitos” (a sweet) are also known.

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