What to do and what to see in Ojén

The municipality of Ojén is located southwest of the province of Málaga, and south of Sierra de las Nieves region. With an extension in its municipal area of 86 km2, it borders the municipalities of Mijas to the east, Marbella to the south, Istán to the west and Monda and Coín to the north.

Part of Ojén territory is part of the protected area as World Biosphere Reserve, Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. While its municipal area extends from Sierra Blanca to Sierra Alpujata and descends through the valleys of River Real and the River Ojén to the municipalities of Marbella and Mijas, with steep slopes and spectacular panoramic views.

In Ojén, Nicolás Hill (1,100 m) and Tajo Negro Peak (1,060 m) stand out for their height. Behind the slopes of these levels, the Juanar Valley is located, which, from Llanos de Purla, climbs up to Juanar Refuge through natural places of great beauty, to later discover the coast from Marbella Marina viewpoint.

Towards the east of the municipality of Ojén, the hills of Sierra Alpujata and those that rise up to the border with Marbella, form the valley of River Ojén, largely covered by pine forests.

Within the municipality of Ojén, two population centers stand out, the urban area of Ojén and the urbanizations of La Mairena and El Vicario, to the southeast of the municipality.

The town of Ojén is located eight kilometers northeast of Marbella city, next to the road that connects Marbella with Coín and next to Stream Almadán, in a very peaceful and rich place with water. Presided over by Sierra Blanca and Sierra Alpujata, it is surrounded by terraced orchards, which go down to the valley. Its proximity to the sea gives it a very mild climate both in winter and summer.

History of Ojén

The first settlements on land in the municipality of Ojén date back to the Neolithic, as evidenced by remains found from this time in Pecho Redondo Cave.

During the low Roman Empire there was some town that exploited agriculture and livestock. However, it was during the Arab occupation that Ojén had special relevance, since one of the uprising battles of Mozarabs and muladíes from the ephemeral kingdom of Bobastro against the caliphate of Abd al-Rahman III, was fought in front of the walls of Ojén Castle. After the liberation of Abd al-Rahman III in 921, the church was converted into a mosque.

In 1485 the Muslims fell against Catholic Monarchs. At this time Ojén was a great producer of raisins, dried figs, almonds, silks, wax and bee honey.

Ojén was constituted as a council and the demarcation of the municipal term was made, depending on Marbella. The current Church of Our Lady of Incarnation was built.

In 1568 and 1569, during the reign of Felipe II, there was a rebellion of the Moors, who fled with their families and belongings to the nearby mountains, leaving the land after killing their Christian neighbors and setting fire to the church, houses and crops.

In 1570 the war ended and Ojén was repopulated by old Christians. The Moorish problem continued in Spain until, in 1609, king Philip III expelled them.

In 1807 Charles IV granted Ojén the independence of the Marbella jurisdiction. In 1905 Los Chorros Fountain was built, by order of Pedro Fernández, and in 1906 Juanar Palace, under the order of Marquis of Larios. This palace was enabled as a National Parador in 1965, in 1984 it began to be used by a cooperative of workers in Ojén and today it is a hotel.

Nowadays, Ojén obtains one of its main sources of income from tourism, although agriculture is still quite important, with the orchards that surround the town.

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What to see in Ojén

When you will visit Ojén, you will find a cosy town, with a structure and typical landscapes from towns of this area of Sierra de las Nieves, located between sea and mountains.

In the municipality you will see some elements of importance within its cultural heritage. An example of this is the Church of Our Lady of Incarnation, located in the main square of Ojén. It is built on an old mosque, at the beginning of the 16th century and consists of a single nave with a beautiful Mudejar coffered ceiling decorated with geometric motifs. It highlights its bell tower, which takes advantage of the minaret of the old mosque.

Another element of cultural importance that you will find in Ojén is Los Chorros Fountain, also located in the town square. It was built in 1905 and has five water pipes.

But without a doubt, the most unique things to see in the municipality are the Ojén Caves. Of karst origin, in ancient times they were used as a refuge for animals and storage of fodder and food. The caves are divided into two parts, low caves, that are rehabilitated for cultural uses, and high caves, that have a viewpoint where you can get exceptional views of the entire town, of the sea in the background and, as a prelude, of the coast of Marbella.

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What to do in Ojén

Ojén will give you the opportunity to delve into nature and learn about what characterizes this entire area between Mediterranean Sea and Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park.

To learn more about the traditions and culture of Ojén, the town offers you two museums related to two typical products of the municipality. One is the Oil Mill Museum, which dates from 1800 and is an old mill fully restored with its original machinery. This museum present you with a sample of how oil was extracted in past times. In him, the machinery, the stones and the press received the driving force of the water. It is usually launched to demonstrate.

The other is the Moonshine Museum, which pays tribute to the world-famous Ojén moonshine. This moonshine was made in the museum' stills from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. Picasso painted it in his painting “Bodegón Español” and Camilo José Cela and Rosalía de Castro included it in some of their novels. The museum includes a series of information panels with the history of the liquor and its legend, with photographs of labels from all corners of the planet, posters, awards, old containers, etc. Much of the material on display in the museum has been loaned by the residents of Ojén.

The natural environment of Ojén is something worth visiting, as part of its territory is within Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, contains typical vegetation of Mediterranean forest and, from some points, has privileged views to Mediterranean Sea.

So that you can appreciate the nature of the municipal environment, there are a series of hiking routes that you can do and discover everything that Ojén hides. Two of these routes belong to two stages of the Great Path of Málaga, which connect Ojén with another municipal area close to it. These are:

  • Stage 31, Marbella - Ojén - It is a linear path of 17 km in length and medium difficulty level. It begins on the golden Marbella beaches, ascending towards Ojén through Nagüeles Pine Forest in Sierra Blanca. The path, with continuous ascents and descents, borders the entire skirt of La Concha Peak, from where you can even see Rock of Gibraltar. On your tour you will be able to feel the strong contrast between the urban and tourist environment of Marbella and the solitudes of the mountains that make up Sierra Blanca, as well as contemplate the wide panoramic views over Marbella bay and the Alboran Sea.
  • Stage 32, Ojén - Mijas - It is a linear path of 50.4 km in length and medium-high difficulty level. The stage begins by tracing an arc from Ojén to Coín along the natural corridor located between Sierra Canucha, to the north, and Sierra Alpujata, to the south. Much of it runs along a forest path to Entrerríos area. At Colorado Refuge, it gets steeper on its way to Mijas mountains. On your way you will be able to enjoy the spectacular landscapes at the beginning of the stage, which will later become a route through the pure mountains.

But the Great Path of Málaga will not be the only one that takes you from Ojén to other municipalities. There are other routes such as Ojén-Istán Trail (PR-A 167), which starts in Ojén and has a linear route of 10.6 km in length and a medium-high level of difficulty. It has a first stretch of ascent, crossing a pine forest, until you reach the Juanar Viewpoint, where you will get wonderful views. From here it will take you to Istán Refuge, from where you can see Cruz de Juanar and Salto del Lobo. From here the descent section begins, initially in a more abrupt way through Juan Inglés Cattle Route, until you reach an esplanade where you can see unbeatable views of Istán, from this point and directing your course towards the town of Istán, You will arrive at the end of the route, from where you will once again have the opportunity to get enviable panoramic views to Conception Reservoir, Sierra Blanca and valley of River Verde.

Another route with which you can visit another municipality is Ojén - Juanar - Monda Trail (GR-243), which connects the towns of Ojén and Monda. It is a linear path of 17.7 km in length and medium difficulty level. It passes through one of the most beautiful and emblematic places in Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, Juanar area. Starting in the town of Ojén, he goes to El Cerezal Botanical Park, a space classified as an Intercontinental Mediterranean Biosphere Reserve and equipped with tables and benches to eat. Here the ascent to Juanar Refuge begins, through a cattle route where you can see masses of centuries-old cork oaks along with others of pines, mastic trees, wild olive trees... and very lush green vegetation. The second section of the path that will take you to Monda begins in José Lima Path, passing first through Stream Juanar, through a beautiful environment due to the diversity of vegetation and groves and the wide pine forest of Llanos de Purla.

A last route to do in Ojén is Juanar - El Pozuelo Trail (PR-A 278), with 15.4 km of circular route and medium difficulty level. During your tour you will cross areas of chestnut trees, Aleppo pines and resin pines, firs, as well as carobs and holm oaks. The environment is made up of Mediterranean scrub and, hopefully, you will have the chance to meet some mountain goat. Its starting point is at Juanar Refuge, with a first stretch of ascent where you will cross a pinsapo grove. On your ascent, until you reach Pozuelo Refuge, you will be able to contemplate wonderful views to Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park and valley of River Verde. From here the descent begins and, after drinking water at Pozuelo Fountain, you will head towards the José Lima Path, contemplating the exceptional views that the landscape offers you, to finish at the starting point, Juanar Refuge.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Ojén

In Ojén you will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the municipality, along with the tradition and the good atmosphere of some of its celebrations. You just have to match your visit with one of the days when its festivities take place throughout the year.

The first event of the year held in Ojén is Ojeando Festival, the first weekend of July. It is one of the most important independent music festival in the province of Málaga, with around 15,000 visitors. The performances take place in the beautiful corners of the town and it has 4 stages, 3 of them free, camping area, flea market and play centre for the little ones.

In August you will find Castillo del Cante Flamenco Festival, held on the first weekend of this month. It is one of the most veteran and prominent festivals in the province of Málaga. All the great legends of flamenco have passed through it. It takes place in the courtyard of Colegio Los Llanos, which is transformed into an improvised auditorium with seats for around 1,000 people.

Already in autumn, you can enjoy St. Dionisio Fair, on October 9 and in honor of St. Dionisio, patron saint of Ojén. The town square is the heart and center of the party, where all events are concentrated. In it you can enjoy the local gastronomy while the orchestra livens up the dance. All kinds of popular games are also held.

Finally, in November there is Popular Tostón, which takes place on the first Sunday after All Saints' Day. It has been declared a Provincial Tourist Singularity Festival and elements such as popular games or traditional gastronomy have been incorporated into the traditional crouton that is shown live. In this festivity you can not miss the chestnuts in cartridge or the moonshine, which is also accompanied by raisins and bacon.

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Gastronomy of Ojén

The gastronomy of Ojén is mainly based on products obtained from the field, such as legumes and vegetables, and those obtained from hunting. It is worth mentioning among its products, Ojén moonshine, a type of wine moonshine, sweet and aniseed, that is world famous.

One of the most traditional dishes in Ojén is “jervia soup” and broth soup, in which pieces of hard bread, garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes and all kinds of local products are used.

Also noteworthy among the typical dishes of Ojén are peas with rice or noodles, pipeao of beans, bolo of fennel, rice with cod, exquisite gazpacho with grapes and almonds, rabbit with tomato, rabbit with potatoes, stew partridge, rice with fennel and Málaga salmorejo.

Among the pastries it is worth highlighting roquettes, fritters, chestnuts and the chestnut stew.

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