What to do and what to see in Colmenar

The municipality of Colmenar, with about 66 km2, is located between the Sierra de Camarolos, the Sierra del Jobo in the north and the Montes de Málaga in the south, which a large part of its surface is occupied by the municipality. It belongs to the region of La Axarquía and has a rich diversity in natural reserve, ideal for rural tourism.

Colmenar has a rugged relief in the north, with peaks such as Sierra Prieta, El Chamizo, Cerro Rodadero and Cerro Pelado. As you move south, its heights drop, but it spreads the landscape with hills such as Cerro del Águila, Cerro Ballesteros or Cerro de la Viña, which stand out over the olive and cereal lands to the east and west. Below these is the Colmenar Corridor or Flysch, linking east and west.

The River of the Cave crosses the municipality of Colmenar and has tributaries such as the Stream Moriscos, the Stream Casapalma, the Stream Napolín, the Stream Zuque and the Stream Gordilla.

The town of Colmenar is located 44 km from Vélez-Málaga and 30 km from Málaga, in the heart of the Montes de Málaga, hence it is also known as the capital of the Montes de Málaga. The River Guadalmedina, which born in the Pico de la Cruz, serves as the boundary with the municipality of Casabermeja.

Colmenar combines the rural and urban areas with a layout of narrow and steep streets in the old town, with whitewashed houses and numerous niches. The lower area is made up of two and three floors noble houses, with occasional Andalusian patios from the mid-19th century and with wider streets.

In the highest area of the urban area of Colmenar is the Hermitage of Our Lady of Candelaria, patron saint of the municipality. From the viewpoints that you will find in this place, you will be able to contemplate landscapes of great beauty such as Tajo de Gómer, Tajo de Doña Ana, Sierra de Tejeda and, in the background, Sierra Nevada.

Colmenar has an altitude of 694 meters above sea level and borders the municipalities of Villanueva del Rosario to the north, Antequera and Casabermeja to the west, Málaga to the south, Comares to the southeast, Riogordo to the east and Alfarnate and Alfarnatejo to the northeast.

History of Colmenar

In Colmenar's history, two stages must be highlighted which could have been important and that precede its origin. The first, the Roman, with no great testimonies, but the importance of the discoveries found in the environment near Cortijo de Auta (Riogordo), suggests that within the municipality of Colmenar there may have been a town or settlement. From this time are the Roman ceramics and coins found in Cortijo de los Moriscos and on the hill of the roadhouse located on the county road 345, one kilometer from the town of Colmenar. The second is the Arab period, which left the layout of its streets in the old town, the slate mold for casting Muslim medals in Cortijo de las Guájaras, ceramics and remains in the Cave of the Bracelet. Also in very close lands was the Bobastro Castle, the origin of the 9th century Muladi revolts.

Despite these two previous times, Colmenar was founded in 1487. Its origin was formed by several farmhouses, these were the Cortijo de Barrancos, Cortijo de Peñones, Cortijo de Jaral, Cortijo de Ramos and Cortijo de Colmenar, from which it takes its name alluding to its abundance in hives. These farmhouses belonged to Hamet El Zuque, Moorish mayor of Comares.

By this time, Colmenar was inhabited by Muslims who, after their conquest by Christian troops, continued living in the area as Mudejars. In the time of Felipe II, Colmenar was sold to Gabriel de Coalla and thus be able to defray the expenses of a military expedition.

Colmenar achieved independence in 1777 and in 1814 managed to become head of the judicial party of a part of the towns of La Axarquía, these were Alfarnate, Alfarnatejo, Almáchar, El Borge, Comares, Cútar, Periana and Riogordo, as well as the town of Casabermeja, from Comarca de Antequera. It also came to be considered as the capital of the Montes de Málaga.

Since then, Colmenar has gradually acquired its Town Hall personality and has become an important nucleus in its environment.

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What to see in Colmenar

In Colmenar there is no long list with all the cultural heritage for you to see, however, there are certain elements that you cannot miss during your visit to the municipality. In the religious field you can see the Hermitage of Our Lady of Candelaria, in honor to the patron saint of Colmenar. It stands on a hill and is a seventeenth-century built in a single nave with a closed ceiling. The presbytery is covered with a hemispherical vault on pendentives and decorated with mannerist plasterwork. It was renovated in the second decade of the 18th century, from when the dressing room is. Outwardly, the entrance is made under a semicircular arch, framed with pillars.

From the same century you can find the Church of Our Lady of Asuncion, built on the top of the hill that over the town of Colmenar, on a plan of three naves separated by square pillars on which semicircular arches rest. In the eighteenth century some reforms were carried out, among which are the reform of the choir and various dressing rooms. From the outside, just highlight the bell tower with a square plan and in three sections, the third open with semicircular arches.

Next to this church are the Gardens of the Palace, with wonderful views to Colmenar and its surroundings. It is a small garden located in what was a palace and where you can now find different plants and the Retirement Home of Colmenar. It is an ideal place to rest in the shade and breathe fresh air and tranquility.

In the Spain Square you will be able to appreciate different components of Colmenar's heritage, such as the Chapel of St. Joseph, the Town Hall or the Puerta de la Cruz. The latter is an artistic monolith that contains the Colmenar heraldic shield and welcomes you to the municipality.

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What to do in Colmenar

Once you have seen the cultural heritage of Colmenar, it is time for you to explore its surroundings, its customs and the natural environment that surrounds the municipality.

To know more about the history of Colmenar prior to its origins, you cannot leave without visiting the Archaeological Sites of Colmenar. They are two archaeological sites, one located in the Neolithic Cave of the Bracelet with ceramic and lithic remains, and the other located in Cortijo de Gonzalo, where megalithic cists are located. There is no evidence of findings from the Roman era, but it is widely assumed that there were settlements in this period due to the remains found near the municipality, such as in Cortijo de Auta or in Cortijo de los Moriscos.

As you already know, the name of Colmenar is due to a farmhouse which was named for its abundance of hives. For this reason, it is not surprising that the municipality carries long customs within the beekeeping culture. These customs are shown in the Málaga Honey Museum, where work is done to promote honey from Colmenar and Málaga in general, as well as other beekeeping products. It also tries to inform about the environmental role of the bee in the pollination of plants. Inside the museum you can learn the process of making honey from its origins to the present day, how its extraction is carried out and the different benefits obtained from its consumption.

Inside the museum there is a room called Juan Manuel Sepúlveda Room, in honor to the founder of the Beekeepers Provincial Association and one of the greatest experts in apiculture at the time. In it you will see utensils and tools used for apiculture in the last fifty years.

The museum also includes a classroom-workshop where the little ones can carry out didactic and manual activities related to apiculture. One of the different attractions that you can find is the possibility of getting a photograph with the beekeeper suit around different hives.

Inside one of the oldest buildings in Colmenar, you will find Bodegas Francisco Blanco. These wineries, enabled to be an ethnographic museum, preserve the most traditional techniques in winemaking that are recognized as wines from Montes de Málaga.

Before leaving the urban core, we recommend you take a walk through the town observing its noble houses and Andalusian patio from the mid-19th century, as well as the niches that retain many facades.

When you start to discover the surroundings of the municipality, you have to remember that Colmenar is located in the center of the Montes de Málaga. These mountains run through the physical profile of Colmenar from east to west. However, this mountain range is not the only thing that you will find around the municipality, since to the north is located what is called Bética Ridge, a limestone mountain range with mediterranean forest, and to the south is the Colmenar Corridor or Flysch, between Colmenar and Periana. Among these natural environments, Colmenar offers you the opportunity to delight in a lush flora, among which the holm oak, gall oak, pine, aceral, thyme, rosemary, ahulaga and orange blossom among other species, as well as with a complete fauna in which the wild boar, the Hispanic goat, the birds of prey and many other specimens stand out.

So that you can enjoy all this natural heritage that encompasses the municipality of Colmenar, there are different hiking routes where you will find peace and tranquility. One of the best known hiking routes in Colmenar is the Chamizo Route, 4.5 km away, an estimated duration of three and a half hours and medium-high difficulty. Its route, which runs through the north of the municipality, is worth admiring due to the spectacular nature of its green fields, the diversity of the landscape, the contrast in the geological and monolithic scope of the mountains and the abundance of species of both flora and wildlife. You can see specimens of Mediterranean scrub, gall oaks, holm oaks and pines, among others, while among the fauna you can find rabbits, hares, Spanish ibex, wild boars, eagles, vultures or rooks. Lovers of adventure sports can practice trekking, climbing or camping.

Also, to the north of Colmenar, you have the Birth of River Guadalmedina Route, which runs through small trails made by cattle. On this route you will be able to cross a large trough where the River Guadalmedina rises and obtain views where part of the High Axarquía, the Sierra de Tejeda and the entire Colmenar Corridor are observed. The route is about 8.5 km, with a duration of five hours and a medium-high difficulty.

Another route with 6 km but with low difficulty and an approximate duration of two and a half hours, is the Mesa de Solano Route. It runs through one of the most important divisions of Montes de Málaga. It begins at the bottom of Cerro Granados, in the Jaldarín lane, and stands out for the geological formations that you will find among mountains, valleys, rivers, etc.

On the Molina Route you will find a great contrast between the grayish color of the Bética Ridge and the green of the Colmenar Corridor, where you can appreciate an environment of vineyards, almond trees and large olive trees. The tour has a component of a historical nature, since you can visit the Cortijo La Molina and the Cortijo Napolín, both from the 18th century. It runs through the Cañada Real from Alhama to Antequera, a natural pass of transhumant cattle that went from Málaga to Granada. The route is 5.5 km long, lasts three and a half hours and has a low difficulty.

Other hiking routes that you can do in the natural environment of Colmenar are the Sierra de Camarolos - Hundidero Route or one of the trails that you can also do by bike through Montes de Málaga such as Pocopán Trail, Torrijos Trail, Contadoras Trail, El Cerrado Trail and Picapedreros - El Boticario Trail.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Colmenar

A good opportunity for you to visit Colmenar is coinciding with one of its traditional festivities. Throughout the year you can find celebrations from the religious sphere to the gastronomic sphere.

The first festivity you will find in the year will be the Feast of the Virgin of Candelaria and St. Blas that takes place on the first Sunday after its name day, in early February. The celebration begins with a “rociera” mass. Later, the Virgin of Candelaria and the saint, St. Blas, are taken out in procession. This procession is accompanied by numerous and fervent believers.

In spring the most important religious event at the national level is celebrated, Holy Week. In Colmenar the most important day is Good Friday where Jesus Nazarene and the Virgin of Sorrows are processed. However, also in spring, specifically in the month of May, the Seed's Day takes place, where the residents of the town go on pilgrimage to eat in the fields and, as a symbol of this day, the traditional Hornazo is cooked. In it carts and horses are prepared and decorated.

Giving way to summer is the St. Juan's Night, from June 23 to 24. In Colmenar the traditional dolls are burned and, later, an open-air dance is held, enlivened all night with an orchestra.

In the month of August, you can enjoy the Colmenar Fair, in which numerous events, cultural and recreational activities take place and, during the night, different performances and orchestras that liven up the four days of the party in Colmenar.

Finally, in the month of December and not with too much history, the Grape Juice and Cold Meat Festivity takes place, organized by the Colmenar Entrepreneur Association and the Town Hall. In this celebration you will be able to taste a rich and varied range of local products through an exhibition of samples and sales by merchants.

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Gastronomy of Colmenar

The origin of the name of Colmenar reveals one of the most important products of this municipality. Bee honey is a very representative product in Colmenar, not only for helping to give the municipality its name, but also for its representation in the culture and gastronomy of the area.

Within the region of La Axarquía, Colmenar belongs to the Olive oil and Mountains Route. This gives you another clue to include olive oil as another of the important products of this municipality.

As we have previously mentioned, Colmenar has a winery that is an ethnographic museum and that preserves traditional techniques in winemaking. Which leads you to a third product of relevance in the gastronomy of the municipality, wine.

Apart from these three products that you have already discovered, goat's cheeses from Colmenar, as well as their cold cuts and cold meats, are quite famous in the municipality and outside it.

Once you know the most typical and important products of Colmenar, it is time that you can enjoy a good meal tasting some of their dishes. In Colmenar's cuisine, the mountains dish, migas, chickpea stew, goat with garlic, choto with garlic, snails, broad bean omelette, gazpacho and chilled garlic and almond soup stand out.

Do not forget to leave room to try some of the delicious desserts, such as quince meat, Meloja (made from fruit, pumpkin, and honey) or the famous hornazo (egg covered in bread dough and cooked in the oven).

As for the confectionery of Colmenar, we must highlight the tasty egg donuts and homemade borrachuelos.

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