What to do and what to see in Casares

The municipality of Casares is located in the extreme southwest of the province of Málaga, west of Costa del Sol Occidental region, to which it belongs. With 162 km2, it extends over the last southern foothills of Serranía de Ronda and the eastern edge of Campo de Gibraltar.

Casares limits with other municipalities within the province of Málaga and also in the province of Cádiz. To the northwest it limits with the municipality of Gaucín; to the north with the municipalities of Benarrabá and Genalguacil, with which it also limits to the northeast; to the east with Estepona; to the south with Manilva and Mediterranean Sea; and to the west with San Roque, San Martín del Tesorillo and Jimena de la Frontera, already in the province of Cádiz.

Due to its proximity to Mediterranean Sea, Casares enjoys a mild temperature in both winter and summer.

Casares town, located 435 meters above sea level, is the typical Andalusian white town of Arab origin, with narrow and steep streets and whitewashed houses.

The population of the municipality of Casares is distributed among the three main population centers, Casares town, El Secadero, next to the municipality of San Martín del Tesorillo, and Casares Costa.

History of Casares

Although the history of Casares could start somewhere near Sierra de la Utrera due to its environmental conditions, to the south of the municipality, on the border with Manilva; the first evidences of settlements in these lands are from 6,000 years ago, as evidenced by hand-made vessels, carefully decorated, and personal ornaments, such as limestone or marble bracelets and necklaces of excellent manufacture, found in Great Duke Cave, on the border between Manilva and Casares.

The Phoenicians, 4,000 years later, also left their mark on Casares, installed in nearby settlements such as the mouth of River Guadiaro, in Villa Vieja, a town that settled in Sierra de la Utrera and in the Salt Tower.

In the 3rd century B.C., in the context of Punic Wars, Lacipo was founded that will become a true city under Roman rule, its ruins can be seen about 4 km west of Casares. From the 6th and 7th centuries, in this same place, remains of a cemetery from the Visigoth era are evident on the old remains of previous times.

From the 9th and 10th centuries, already under Arab occupation, ceramic remains have been found in Villa Vieja, possibly abandoned after the implantation of the Omeya Caliphate based in Córdoba.

From the 12th century and with the construction of the Casares Castle, this became the main settlement in the area, with control of the natural route to the lands of Ronda, acquiring a high strategic role. The importance of these roads is represented by the construction of Albarrada Bridge. The so-called Hedionda Baths and any farmhouse in the vicinity of River Manilva belong to this period.

From the 14th century, Casares became a frontier land with the Kingdoms of Castilian, its fortress playing an important role in the development of the war. Here a crucial interview was held between the Nasrid king Muhammad V and Peter of Castile.

In 1485, Casares passed into the hands of Catholic Monarchs and was repopulated by Christians from other areas who lived with the Moors, until their rebellion and expulsion at the end of the 16th century.

Another relevant historical fact in Casares is the role played by the municipality during French rule, when its neighbors faced the Gallic army until its withdrawal in 1813, without being able to occupy it.

In Casares the lawyer, politician and writer Blas Infante was born, father of the Andalusian homeland and promoter of the autonomy of Andalusia and creator of the anthem and the flag. He died shot on August 10, 1936, at the beginning of Civil War.

The town of Casares has always been linked to agriculture, especially the cultivation of vineyards, avocados and citrus, but also livestock. In recent years, thanks to its proximity to Costa del Sol, it has experienced growth in tourism and construction, putting its grain of sand to the growth of the tourism sector of Málaga coast.

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What to see in Casares

The municipality of Casares has a wide cultural heritage that you can appreciate on your visit. Its artistic heritage was declared an Artistic Set in 1978. In addition, Casares has an audio guide service with all the tourist information on the municipality in five languages: Spanish, English, French, German and Russian. These guides can be rented at the Information Office of Blas Infante Birthplace and at Blas Infante Cultural Centre.

Following a chronological order, the first monument you will see is located about 4 kilometers west of Casares and are the remains of the city of Lacipo. Of Phoenician-Punic origin, it became an authentic city with Roman rule, creating its own currency. During the 6th and 7th centuries the Visigoths also left their mark. In the Provincial Archaeological Museum of Málaga, archaeological remains of this place are preserved.

The Hedionda Baths are from Roman times, built in the 1st century B.C., although they have undergone reforms and extensions throughout history. It is a sulphurous ferruginous baths, located in a beautiful spot, next to the Stream Albarrán, and very close to Casares border with the municipality of Manilva. The spa area is square, with a spherical vault of pendentives and two barrel vaults.

During the Muslim occupation, Albarrada Bridge was built, popularly known as Albarrá Bridge. This was part of a Roman road that connected the city of Lacipo with the mines of Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja, with the purpose of transport the mineral from these mines to the Roman city, where it was joined to another road that led to the quay.

The Salt Tower is located on the Casares Costa, between River Manilva and Stream Camarate. It has a square plan and has two heights, the lower one wider than the upper one and both covered with octagonal vaults. It is a work from the Nasrid period that was part of the defensive system that the Kingdom of Granada had against the Christians of Algeciras. In the 16th century it was incorporated into the official system of watchtowers on the coast against Berber pirates.

In the 13th century the Casares Castle, located in the highest part of the town, with great visual control over the valleys, hills and coastal plains that extend from Serranía de Ronda to Bahía de Algeciras. This castle acquired great importance as one of the fortresses located between the coast of Strait of Gibraltar and Serranía de Ronda. It has an irregular polygon shape with various recesses and projections caused by the topography of the terrain. The perimeter of the enclosure is 770.50 meters, and its surface reaches 23,692 m2. It is one of the most beautiful spaces in the municipality of Casares and within it are currently rural houses, restaurants and the Casares Ethnohistory Museum, as well as other places of interest, which are:

  • Hermitage of True Cross - Building of the 16th century that is next to the Alcázar ruins. Currently, only part of one of its ships is preserved.
  • Casares Cemetery - It is located within the walled area of the old Arab castle. The luminosity of its whitewashed niches and its circular arrangement gives it a truly original appearance.
  • Blas Infante Cultural Centre - Its facilities occupy the old Church of Incarnation, built in the 16th century and with three naves separated by semicircular arches and a Mudejar-style tower. Inside it houses several exhibitions on the history of Casares of an ethnographic and archaeological nature. From its bell tower and from the different viewpoints that it houses, beautiful panoramic views of the surroundings of Casares are obtained. Inside you can hold theaters, concerts, presentations, etc. and it has a capacity of 200 people and a Tourist Attention point.

Located in Llano de la Fuente is the Church of Incarnation and, although it dates from the 16th century, it is not related with the one located in the Casares Castle and which now corresponds to a cultural centre. Due to its location it is popularly known as Church of the Llano. It has a single nave that widens in the transept, giving rise to the usual cross plan. It highlights the Mudejar-style bell tower and the backyard, which belonged to the old convent and has a garden surrounded by small fountains.

To connect the Hedionda Baths and the Vallecillo Trail, Baths aqueduct-bridge was built. That was in the 16th century, in limestone, and it was restored in the 18th. It is located on Stream Albarrán, where you can also see the eight Flour Mills. These mills worked thanks to the energy of the passage of water. They were built in the 16th century and their names were: Above Mill or Gorrino Mill; St. Pablo Factory, Molina Factory or American Factory; Fat Mill; Madrileño Mill; Bayo Mill; Cancón Mill; Girl Mill; and Gómez Mill. Some of these mills have been restored as a home and have changed their original structure, while others are in ruins.

In the 17th century the small Hermitage of St. Sebastian was built in Spain Square in Casares. With a single nave, it houses the image of Our Lady of Rosary of the Countryside, patron saint of Casares. This image is transferred to Hermitage of the Virgin of Rosary of the Countryside in the month of May to celebrate its pilgrimage. This last hermitage can be found next to the crossing of River Genal and River Guadiaro.

In the nerve center of Casares town, you will see the Charles III Fountain, built in the 18th century, under the reign of Charles III. It is part of the channeling of spring water and wells located in Las Viñas Refuge in the center of town. The fountain, in a neoclassical style, is made up of three bodies, the lower body and the central one are made of carved sandstone stones, the upper part is made up of four slabs of the same stone topped by four pine cones on moldings and a spherical cap topped for a castle of the same material.

Finally, from a more current era you will find the Blas Infante Birthplace, located at 51 Carrera Street. In addition to a tourist information point, the house houses a permanent exhibition with fragments of the life and works of this illustrious notary, and brings you closer to the knowledge of his thought and of his own person. It also has a small temporary exhibition hall.

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What to do in Casares

The environment of Casares will surprise you, for all the beautiful landscapes and the variety of these. But before showing you all the places that the municipality of Casares hides, you should visit the Casares Ethnohistory Museum. This museum, opened in 1998, aims to teach you the history and way of life of the ancient settlers of Casares, through archaeological tools and vestiges. Inside the museum you can visit six different rooms.

  • Room 1, Archeology and history area.
  • Room 2, Agricultural area.
  • Room 3, Religious elements area.
  • Room 4, Physical environment area.
  • Room 5, Cinema and technology area.
  • Room 6, Gastronomy and history area.

Once you know a little more about the history of Casares, it's time for you to get to know its natural environment. A good starting point is Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Natural Reserve. This beautiful place extends to the northeast of the municipality of Casares, also occupying part of the municipalities of Estepona and Genalguacil. It stands out for having one of the largest volcanic rock extensions, called peridotites, which give these mountains their characteristic maroon color. The presence of these minerals, a mild climate and a special rainfall regime, have created the conditions for the development of more than fifty endemic plant species in this area. In addition, it is important to also note the presence of the only population of firs on peridotites, with an extension of 90 hectares, a species that only has a worldwide presence in some mountain ranges of Morocco, Cádiz and Málaga. This species mixes with others such as pine or cork oak, as well as with scrub such as gorse and strawberry trees.

From this enclave you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Costa del Sol and the beautiful mountain towns, as well as admire the presence of mammals such as roe deer, genet, meloncillo and mountain goat, or birds such as agateador, crossbill, golden eagle, Bonelli's eagle, peregrine falcon or eagle owl.

Continuing the exploration, you will find Sierra de la Utrera, a wonderful massif of karst origin located south of the municipality of Casares, on its border with Manilva. Located in an environment of soft hills and plains, it is divided into two parts by a canyon called Canuto Grande. In addition to creating a spectacular almost lunar landscape, it houses more than one hundred caves, chasms and shelters, among which Old Cave, Hedionda Cave, Hedionda Chasm II, Hedionda Chasm III, Bath Chasm, with a difference in height of more than 90 meters, and Great Duke Cave, located in Canuto Grande. It is also important to highlight Hedionda Baths spring, which emanates 60 liters per second of sulphurous water and has various archaeological sites inside.

To finish the mountain landscape, you should not forget Sierra Crestellina Natural Reserve. This beautiful natural reserve that extends through the northwest of the municipality of Casares, owes its name to the shape of its peaks, authentic inaccessible ridges. Of medium height and made up of grayish limestone rocks, it houses typical species of Mediterranean bush such as cork oaks, gall oaks and holm oaks, which combine with others such as pines, junipers and kermes oak. Inside it is important the rich presence of griffon vultures, which coexist with other birds such as Bonelli's eagle, peregrine falcon and eagle owl. Mountain goat, roe deer, wild boar, fox, meloncillo, genet and marten are other animal species representing the mammals that frequent this beautiful mountain range.

You can investigate all this natural environment that the municipality of Casares contains through hiking routes that are in each of these mountains.

The first route starts from Casares and runs through the last of the mountains described, Sierra Crestellina Refuge Route. This route has a distance of 8 km, a medium difficulty and an approximate duration of three hours. You can do it on foot, by bicycle or on horseback. The attraction of the route are the views it offers of Sierra Crestellina and Monte del Duque, in an environment full of Mediterranean forest with gall oaks, holm oaks, pines, carob trees, mastic trees, etc. and, as already mentioned, the flight of the griffon vulture, which has an important colony in this mountain range.

The Stream Hondo - The Mills Route starts from Casares towards Estepona, but, at the height of the source of River Manilva, it begins the return towards the town from which it departs. It is a very varied route since it begins in a shady part with very heterogeneous vegetation, moving to a forest area with cork oaks, grassland and old cereal fields. On the route you will see one of the mills that supplied the region with flour, Above Mill. It is a route with 7.5 km of distance, medium difficulty and a duration of three hours. You can do it both on foot and by bicycle.

With impressive views to the Mediterranean Sea, being able to appreciate Gibraltar and the African Mountains, you will find La Manga - Celima - Stream Hondo Route. It departs from the Espileta, near of Spain Square, and reaches the intersection with the previous route, from where the return to Casares begins. It crosses areas with cork oaks, gall oaks and Mediterranean scrub, its distance is 5 km, with an average difficulty and a duration of two hours. You can do it on foot, by bicycle or on horseback.

The Past of the Pine - La Acedía Route is a route that stands out for the magnificent views of Sierra Bermeja and La Acedía Valley and, on clear days, it is possible to see Campo de Gibraltar and African Mountains. Its route is 13 km, its difficulty is medium-high and its duration is five hours. It is a route that you can do on foot.

The next route that you can find in Casares is La Albarrá - La Molina Route, which is interesting for showing you typical vegetation of Mediterranean forest, with rain-fed crops and vegetation on the banks of the Stream Albarrán. The natural landmark of Molina Hill and Canuto del Albarrá stand out. It has a distance of 5 km, a duration of three hours, a medium-low difficulty and you can do it on foot, on horseback or by bicycle.

The Stream Zarabanda Route has 4 km, an estimated duration of three hours and low difficulty. Its main feature resides in the abundant vegetation that you can find along its route, with gall oaks, wild olive trees and citrus. It is a route that you can do on foot, by bicycle, horseback or 4x4.

To enjoy riverside vegetation, Casares offers you the Alamo Route. On this route you will see oleanders, poplars and European nettle tree in the 2 km route. Its duration is approximately one hour and it has a low difficulty. You can do it on foot or on horseback.

From the urban area of Casares, the Jimena Trail Route starts, which is part of the livestock route known as the "Jimena Trail" or "Lie Path". This route was used during the pilgrimage on the way to the Hermitage of the Virgin of Rosary of the Countryside. The route can be done on foot, by bicycle or on horseback and has a distance of 7 km, a duration of between two and three hours and a medium-low difficulty.

The Genal - Guadiaro Route runs through River Genal and River Guadiaro. It is the longest with a 19 km route, between seven and eight hours long, but with low difficulty. This route is entirely practicable on foot, on horseback and by bicycle, outside the rainy season, due to the difficulty of crossing rivers. If a vehicle is used, it is not possible to complete the complete route.

In Sierra de la Utrera you will have the opportunity to do the Canuto de Utrera Route, which passes through Hedionda Baths and gives you the opportunity to contemplate and walk through Sierra de la Utrera. This mountain contains the southernmost karst complex in Europe, has great natural, paleontological and archaeological heritage wealth, as well as a unique landscape beauty in the region. It is a route to be done on foot, with a route of 2.4 km, an hour long and a medium-high difficulty. Another route that departs from Casares and goes to Hedionda Baths, is the Hedionda Baths Route.

Finally, there are two routes that correspond to two stages of the Great Path of Málaga and that run between Casares and two nearby municipalities.

  • Stage 28, Genalguacil - Casares - With a distance of 20.5 km and a duration of approximately six hours, this stage runs through the foothills of Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja and Sierra Crestellina. It will take you from the middle of the Genal Valley to visualize the Strait of Gibraltar. Its route passes through some traditional paths between Genalguacil, Casares and Benarrabá, almost at all times in the shade of cork oaks, gall oaks and resin pines.
  • Stage 29, Casares - Estepona - Between the pretty towns of Casares and Estepona this 24.2 km and seven-hour stage takes place. First it traces a loop to the southeast of Casares down to Stream of the Mills, then it goes to a heavily wooded area with numerous country houses, and then it goes to the rocky slopes of Sierra Bermeja. The final part descends from these slopes to the town of Estepona, from where you can reach the coast to continue with the next stage.

Apart from these hiking routes, in Casares there are sporting events both in their natural environment and in their urban environment. The Villa de Casares Race is one that runs through the natural environment, specifically Sierra Crestellina. This race is held every April and is made up of a circuit through the mountains of about 20 and 13 km, depending on the modality you choose, as well as a 500 and 1000 meter urban circuit for the little ones.

Within the town of Casares, the Sport festival of May 1 is celebrated. In this event a neighborhood race is carried out from Spain Square to the municipal football pitch and, in addition, the celebration of different sports entertainments such as football, paddle, spinning, step, kickboxing, pilates, etc. is held.

In the month of June, 24 hours of sports are held every year in Casares, as in many other towns. This event attracts people from all over the region to compete over 24 hours in futsal and paddle tennis tournaments, among others.

Last but not least, we must highlight the four beaches that Casares has, undoubtedly one of the attractions that has attracted the most tourism to the region of Costa del Sol Occidental since the middle of the last century.

  • Wide Beach - It is one of the most beautiful and best beaches on Costa del Sol Occidental. Its extension is 1,300 meters long by 50 meters wide, it is bounded on the west by the River Manilva and on the east by the Stream La Parrilla. It is an urban beach with a promenade, with a high level of occupancy, accessible to people with reduced mobility and health and rescue services. It is of dark sand and calm waters, it has two beach volleyball courts and beach football goals. It is a very well-kept beach.
  • Small Beach - It is limited in its extension by a cliff partially covered by vegetation with an uneven width ranging from 20 to 50 meters. It is bounded on the west by the Stream La Parrilla and on the east by said cliff. It only has pedestrian accesses.
  • Salt Beach - Located west of the Salt Tower until its limit with Small Beach, it occupies a section of about 4,100 m2. It is a cove about 20 meters wide and is accessed from the Bay Pearl promenade.
  • Piedra Paloma Beach - Bounded on the west by the Salt Tower and on the east by Piedra Paloma, on the border with Estepona. It is made up of stones and sand, and, until recently, it was in a semi-natural state since there was no building or any type of service. A beach bar has recently been built. The beach has a limited area and is suitable for walking dogs.

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Traditional festivities and celebrations in Casares

When planning your visit to Casares, you will be surprised by the extensive calendar of festivities and celebrations that the municipality has. These celebrations are varied in scope, both religiously and culturally and nationally or locally.

The last and first celebration that there is in Casares is, as in all of Spain, Christmas. The activities begin on December 8 with the traditional Christmas lighting, followed by competitions, sporting events, workshops and parades riding that can be found in the Christmas guide.

On February 28 Andalusia Day takes place, a special day in Casares as it is the birthplace of the father of the Andalusian Fatherland, Blas Infante. The day is celebrated with institutional and festive events, where neighbors and visitors participate.

The first weekend of March the Carnival takes place, with a costume contest. Also in March or April, depending on the year, Holy Week is celebrated, in which different sacred images are taken in procession. They begin on Palm Sunday and end on Easter, having their greatest relevance in Casares on Good Friday with the procession of the Virgin of Sorrows and the Holy Sepulcher.

During the month of April you can enjoy Cultural Week, a celebration that includes poetic activities, the day of the book, the day of the dance, gastronomic and sport activities, among others. Throughout this week the event known as Degusta of Casares takes place, which consists of a gastronomic route through bars, restaurants and sales of Casares that offer dishes made with suckling goat and goat cheese, from the Payoya goat breed, native of Serranía de Ronda.

In May, the Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Rosary of the Countryside takes place on the last weekend. In this party, the residents of Casares go out with their patron saint to the Hermitage of the Virgin of Rosary of the Countryside, located next to River Genal.

In summer you will find the St. John's Night, in which crowds of people gather on the beaches with bonfires and spend the night celebrating the entrance of summer. In Casares, the most typical beach for this celebration is Wide Beach.

In the summer months is when there are the most events in Casares. July 1 is the Sleepless Night of El Secadero, with the tapas route, children's activities, artisan market and music. A few days later, on July 5 are Blas Infante Casares Solidary Awards, coinciding with the date of Blas Infante's birth. It is an event held at the Blas Infante Cultural Centre where the “Casares for Andalusia” and “Casares for Spain” awards are given, which are aimed at education projects for the development of Andalusia and Spain, as well as the “Casares for Humanity” destined for international cooperation projects.

The penultimate weekend of July is El Secadero Fair. In it you can have fun with a great parade and coronation ceremony in addition to other activities, sport championships and popular games.

In addition, during the month of July the theme nights are held in Casares Costa. Every friday there are different music, theater and dance shows that liven up the evening in the Rosary Gardens amphitheater.

The festivities in August begin with Casares Fair, held on the first weekend. For 4 days the town becomes a stage where there are dances with orchestras and Llano area becomes a macro disco with DJ sessions every night.

On August 15 the Casares Costa Evening takes place with children's activities and an evening with live music for adults. In the same Casares Costa the Summer Farewell Party is celebrated at the end of August on the beach, where the little ones say goodbye to the summer enjoying all kinds of activities, games, inflatable mattresses, foam party, etc.

Throughout the entire month of August, the well-known Cultural Summer takes place, held in Casares, El Secadero and Casares Costa and offering an extensive program of cultural activities during August. You can enjoy theatrical shows, musical performances, children's parties, summer cinema and sport activities. Among them El Secadero Urban Mile takes place.

An activity organized by the Municipal Theater School, at the end of August in the town of Casares and in the fall in El Secadero, is the Passage of Terror. Here the students of the school represent a terrifying journey in different locations with live audiences.

Almost to end the summer, the Patron Saint's Day takes place on the second weekend of September, with liturgical acts and presentation to the patron saint. Also in September the Christ Fair is held, with a festival in the historic centre of Casares.

In the autumn season, specifically in October you will be able to appreciate for a week the New Andalusian Cinema Festival, at the Blas Infante Cultural Centre. This festival hosts the best cinematographic productions on earth, with feature films, documentaries and short films.

Finally, on All Saints' Day, after Halloween, the Popular Tostón takes place in the cemetery. It is a chestnut roast that recalls an ancient tradition.

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Gastronomy of Casares

The municipality of Casares, due to its extension both in the mountain and in the coastal area, offers two types of cuisine. One of the typical products that you can find in Casares is Sierra Crestellina cheese, made with Payoya goat's milk in an artisanal way.

Within the mountain cuisine, the stew with "pringá", the broth stew with chickpeas, the meats of slaughter and bacon, the native kid fritá, the gazpacho casareño and the breads cooked in the wood oven stand out.

In the coastal cuisine, the fried fish and the sardines moruna stand out, a kind of marinade seasoned with lemon and a little paprika.

Regarding pastry, you can choose between fried cakes and homemade biscuits drizzled with honey or chocolate.

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