What to do and what to see in Comares

The municipality of Comares is located in the foothills of Montes de Málaga, with an area of ​​25 km2, it extends to the west of the region of La Axarquía, bordering with lands of the municipality of Málaga, in a broken and mountainous terrain.

Two are the most important levels of the municipality, the town itself located at 740 meters and from where much of the land of La Axarquía is dominated offering a wide landscape that goes from the mountains to the sea and that surprises and captivates to any visitor. The other is the Cerro de Mazmúllar (720 m) also located to the south, which is a beautiful plateau located 2 km from the town.

To the north the levels tend to descend, with ridged hills covered with olive trees, almond trees, vineyards and farmhouses scattered around the mountain, looking for the channel of the River Cave that borders the municipality of Comares. The tributaries of this river are Stream Cútar, Stream Fuente Delgada and Stream Solano, dry for most of the year.

The town of Comares is located on a slight decline on the crest of a vantage point, with totally vertical slopes that go beyond what is purely picturesque, hence it is also known as "The balcony of La Axarquía". It is 24 km from Vélez-Málaga and 35 km from Málaga.

Comares is bordering other municipalities in the province of Málaga that are Colmenar to the northwest, Riogordo to the north, Cútar to the east, El Borge to the south and Málaga to the west. Also, within the Comares municipality, there are a series of districts, these are: Los Ventorros, Masmullar, La Alquería, Llano Almendra, Las Cuevas, El Romo and Los Gallegos.

History of Comares

The origin of Comares is not entirely clear but, although there is no proven evidence, it may be that when the Phoenician Greeks arrived on the coasts of Málaga and Torre del Mar in the 7th century B.C., they established settlements in these lands.

What is proven is its importance in the Arab era, from its name comes. The name of Comares comes from the Arabic term Qumaris or Hisn Comarix, which means castle at height and refers to the Mazmullar fortress, located on the hill near the west of the town and built by the Phoenician Greeks in the 7th century B.C. This fortress was of great importance in the area during two stages of history, first Roman and later Arab.

During the Arab invasion, Comares was a refuge for some Christian cores that remained active, as a result of the orography of the place, until it was taken by Abd-al-Rahman III at the beginning of the 10th century.

In the period of Arab occupation, Comares enjoyed great military and socio-economic importance. In 1487, after the taking of Vélez-Málaga, Mohammed el Jabis, the last Muslim warden of Comares, gave the town to the Catholic Monarchs and Pedro de Cuéllar was proclaimed mayor. At that time the capitulations were signed, which were very benevolent with the native population.

After the reconquest of Comares, thirty Moorish families who remained in Comares were baptized. This baptism was performed in one of its streets, which has been known since then as Perdón Street. This act is remembered after each major mass on Sundays and public days with thirty strokes.

In 1490, Comares was repopulated by old Christians from other parts of Andalusia, Extremadura, Castile, Valencia, Galicia and Portugal.

On December 20, 1512, Joanna of Castile, Queen of Castile, gave permission to Diego Fernández de Córdoba, warden of the militiamen, to barter the town of Sedella for Comares, thus creating the Marquesado of Comares.

Comares did not participate in the Moorish rebellion that occurred in the neighboring towns of the area in 1568, in fact, he contributed troops to contain the rebellion. In 1570, the Moors who lived on their lands were definitively expelled.

In a closer time, during the French occupation by Napoleon's troops, Comares and its surroundings were harshly defended by troops of the captain Vicente Moreno Romero from Antequera, and the attitude of the inhabitants of part of their lands is of notable mention. The invading army found empty farmhouses and ranches and many of them burned, a fact that their occupants favored before abandoning them.

At the end of the 19th century, the phylloxera swept the vineyard fields of the municipal area and, throughout the 20th century, the population of Comares decreased significantly, although there has been a boom in the foreign population towards these lands in recent years.

Nowadays, Comares' main economic activity is agriculture, concentrated in the cultivation of olive trees and almond trees, but rural tourism is becoming more and more prominent.

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What to see in Comares

The Comares municipality is very marked by its Arab past, which gives you the opportunity to get to know this era better, as well as to appreciate the richness and cultural diversity that has existed throughout history. However, there are other elements from other centuries, which you can observe the cultural and artistic contrast.

Belonging to the Arab culture and era of Comares, you will see remains such as the 14th century Mazmúllar Cistern. In 1931 it was declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument. It has the shape of a rectangle and is located on the Mazmúllar Plateau, a city between the 9th and 10th centuries where remains of ceramics, amphoras, mosaics and even a skeleton have been found. Apart from the cistern, you will appreciate that there are still remains of houses.

In some of the streets of Comares you will be able to observe Arab arches and right in the Camposanto (cemetery) you will be able to appreciate the remains of the Castle Bastion La Tahona, from an uncertain period but which was transformed during the Muslim period into a large fortress.

Just at the opposite end of the La Tahona Tower, is La Tahoncilla. It is a small tower that was part of this Comares fortress.

Representing Christianity in Comares you will see the Church of Our Lady of Incarnation. It is a Mudejar work from the 16th century with important reforms in the 17th and 18th centuries. It stands on a quadrangular plan divided into three naves separated by six pointed arches and closings with Mudejar armor. The entrance is in a semicircular arch framed in buttresses. The tower rises on the right side with arches framed in alfiz.

Other elements of Comares' cultural heritage are the Fuente Sana and the Fiestero. The latter is located in the Verdiales Square and represents a man playing verdiales, a very characteristic type of music within Comares folklore.

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What to do in Comares

Visiting the urban core of Comares is charming. In it you will find narrow streets, many of them staggered but very well maintained, and whitewashed facades with pots of geraniums. In many of the corners you will be able to appreciate the remains of old Arab settlements, such as the niche in Perdón Street, in memory of the first Moriscos baptized, or Carnicería Street, with the double pointed arch. If you go up to the Constitution Square, located at the end of the slope, from the Balcony of La Axarquía you can contemplate one of the most exciting views to La Axarquía that surprise and captivate all visitors.

Comares also has a municipal sports center, a municipal swimming pool and a House of Culture, housing the public library inside. This way, there will be no time for boredom.

Comares' natural environment shapes it. On the one hand, the Montes de Málaga Natural Park and, on the other, the region of La Axarquía. From the same town you can get beautiful views from the mountains to the sea.

To discover all this environment that surrounds the town of Comares, the best way is through a hiking route where you can appreciate all the rich landscapes. One of the hiking routes that may be easier to do and that will also take you to one of the places that we have recommended you to see, is Mazmúllar Plateau Route. This route starts from the town of Comares and returns to it after covering just over 3 km. The direction is to the south and passes through places such as Llano de la Cruz or Fuente Mañunez and, after a cobbled path, you will reach the Mazmúllar Plateau with its archaeological sites.

Another very simple hiking route is Fuente Gorda Route, which borders the town of Comares. On this route you will find places such as Cueva de la Ventana or Cueva del Olivo, apart from Fuente Gorda that gives to the route its name.

But if you want to try something more difficult, from Fuente Gorda you can try to do the Via Ferrata de Comares. This initiative to promote active tourism in the region of La Axarquía and, therefore, in Comares, does not require prior physical preparation, but it is advisable to be accompanied by experts or guides. You should not forget that these types of activities must be carried out with the appropriate material, in this case a harness, helmet, zipper or heatsink for ferrata, gloves, boots, ropes, etc. Its duration is approximately one hour and its difficulty increases a little at the end, although it is generally simple.

Other routes that the municipality of Comares provides you are Las Fuentes Route, easy to do and 8 km away, and Lavadero Route, with 3.6 km of route and a simple level of difficulty.

Comares is also part of longer routes that run through different municipalities in the province of Málaga. One is Tagus Route that runs through Alfarnatejo, Colmenar and Comares, while the other is Omar Ben Hafsun Route, one of the most representative characters of ancient Al-Andalus, which passes through Parauta, Júzcar, Ardales, Tolox, Riogordo, Comares and Archidona.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Comares

When scheduling your visit to Comares, you can choose a day that coincides with one of the celebrations that take place in the municipality throughout the year.

The first typical festival of the year is the Festivity of St. Hilary of Poitiers, which takes place on January 13, although the festival is celebrated on the following Saturday. The image of St. Hilary of Poitiers is taken in a procession through the streets in Comares, concluding the celebration with a popular verbena enlivened, among others, by the verdiales pandas. This festivity is indigenous to the Montes de Málaga and many towns in La Axarquía. At the party there is a tasting of typical products of the area.

In the month of June, the Verdiales Festival takes place dedicated to this musical style. This style is very popular in the region of La Axarquía and it is known that its songs are pieces of ancient Moorish romances and the original source of flamenco singing. Verdiales have a long tradition in these lands and this has led to the development of their own style in some places and it has happened in Comares.

On the penultimate weekend of August, the Comares Fair is held, one of the popular festivals in the area due to its rich culture and folklore. In it you will enjoy the traditional verdiales, sports activities and games, performances and parties during the night.

In September, the Candlelight Night takes place with the same tradition and flavor as those of the rest of the region of La Axarquía.

Among the Comares districts, you will find Los Ventorros Fair, the penultimate weekend of July, and Las Cuevas Fair, the second weekend of August.

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Gastronomy of Comares

Comares is part of the Raisin Route within the region of La Axarquía. This part of the region is characterized by contemplating the ideal weather conditions for the cultivation of vineyards. With the grapes obtained from these vineyards in this area, the raisins are obtained, which are considered to be the best in the world since the time of the Arabs.

Muscatel wine, very famous in the province of Málaga, is handmade with these raisins. Muscatel wine is a variety of sweet wine which has a characteristic perfume of this grape variety, due to some oils that are in the part close to the grain.

Once you know something more about the traditional products of Comares, it is time for you to taste some typical dishes such as gazpachuelo, tomato soup with grapes, potato casserole, stew, gazpacho, ajoblanco, crumbs, porridge, maimones, mountains dish or the goat. All this, accompanied by an exquisite local wine.

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