The Casarabonela municipality is located in the center of the province of Málaga, northeast of Sierra de las Nieves region. Part of its municipal area is within the protected area as World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO of Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park.
Casarabonela limits to the north with the municipalities of Carratraca and Ardales, to the east with those of Álora and Pizarra, to the south with Coín, to the southwest with Alozaina and to the west with El Burgo.
Its lands are a link between the region of Guadalhorce Valley and Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, entering the mountains through Sierra de Alcaparaín (1,200 m) and Sierra Prieta (1,521 m), until reaching River Turón in its limit with the municipality of El Burgo.
The lands that make up the municipal district of Casarabonela have been inhabited since prehistoric times, as shown by several deposits of lithic workshops, burials and grottos with daily tools. Remains from the Iberian era have been detected in the town centre and in the surroundings. However, the most important historical sites that have been found belong to Roman times, when the area was known as Castra Vinaria (Castle of Wine).
With the Arab domination, Casarabonela acquired its maximum splendor and its true strategic importance due to its geographical location and the peculiar location of its castle. This is evidenced by its active participation in the confrontation against the Omeya Caliphate of Córdoba in the 10th century, forming part of the defensive belt of Bobastro in the first moments of the rebellion and, in 922, becoming the centre of operations against the rebels, being reinforced by the caliph once the revolt had ended. At this time the municipality of Casarabonela was known as Qsar Bunayra.
During the Nasrid period and from the middle of the 13th century it was a fundamental part of the defensive system of war against the advance of Christians. Muhammad V recovered Casarabonela in 1366 together with El Burgo and Tolox, although on June 2, 1485 the territory was definitely conquered by the Catholic Monarchs.
In the first years after the reconquest, Moors and Christians lived in Casarabonela, but, after the rebellions of the Muslim population that began in the Serranía de Ronda, due to the huge fiscal pressure they were undergoing, and that continued in the Alpujarra area, the Moors they were expelled and transferred to other parts of the Iberian Peninsula, repopulating the town with Christians from Seville, Extremadura and other parts of Spain.
In 1574 Casarabonela acquired the status of Villa from Philip II with the “Puebla Letter”.
In 1810, during the Independence War, José Bonaparte stayed at Casarabonela on his trip to Málaga.
In 1836, Carratraca was separated from the municipality by a Royal Order and obtained its own municipal term, while Casarabonela was left with the land that it has today.
Since the mid-nineteenth century Casarabonela has actively participated as a local entity in the politics of Spain, sometimes somewhat violently and exalted.
Nowadays, Casarabonela lives mainly from agriculture, especially from the cultivation of olive trees, almond trees, citrus trees and cereals, but also avocados and mangoes. Likewise, its sheep, goat, bovine and pig cabin is quite important. Do not forget its water bottling plant, as Casarabonela's water is of excellent quality, and its textile industry.
The Casarabonela town has a varied cultural heritage, which, depending on the period in which each element was built, shows one architectural style or another. This heritage includes the elements of the most important civilizations that have passed through Casarabonela, from the Roman to the present.
As a memory of the municipality of Casarabonela in Roman times or the ancient Castra Vinaria, you can see La Puente. This bridge of Roman origin has a current structure, with a pointed arch, from the medieval period, since it has undergone at least two reconstructions. It is located in the lowest part of the town, next to a stream.
Of the Arab domination in Casarabonela, the Arab Castle, from the 9th century, stands out mainly. Its true origin is probably Roman, but it acquired real importance during the Arab period. However, its use as a military fortress lasted until the 18th century, although very few remains, several towers and some wall canvases have survived from its original state.
Its unbeatable location in front of the Guadalhorce Valley, the Málaga Hole, and part of the Málaga coastline, as well as with Sierra Prieta and Sierra de Alcaparaín massifs located behind, has enabled its conditioning of the castle as a tourist viewpoint. Meanwhile, an interpretation center has been set up on the premises, which has a model and several thematic panels on life in Al-Andalus.
In the Arab era, a part of the town developed that today is part of the urban area of Casarabonela and is known as Arrabal Neighborhood. Here you can visualize the influence of its Arab past, with its system of steep, narrow and winding streets, the dead ends or the lattice balconies. This layout is evident around the castle area and is considered the Moorish neighborhood.
From the Christian era in Casarabonela, after the reconquest, different temples dedicated to worship were built. One of these is the 16th century Parish Church of Santiago Apostle. This church consists of three naves separated by semicircular arches on ten quadrangular pillars, the central one is covered with a half-barrel vault with lunettes, while the lateral ones with very low vaults. In the nave of the Epistle the Chapel of the Tabernacle opens. Outside, the cover combines pink and black marble. It has a semicircular arch between bent Tuscan pilasters that support entablature and a coiled split pediment, in the centre of which there is an oval with a comb that encloses a cross. The tower presents four bodies of square plan separated by imposts, ending in a pyramidal spire of glazed tiles. In the dressing room of the main altar is the image of the Virgin of the Rosary, from the second half of the 18th century. In general, it houses a large collection of goldsmith works that you can visit in the Sacred Art Museum, set up for this purpose. It also has a beautiful garden.
Another of the religious buildings that you can see in Casarabonela is the Hermitage of the Calvary, from the 17th century and located in the highest part of the town. It is a small chapel, topped by an iron cross. Its interior is presided over by a simple altar full of devotional objects, pictures, flowers and candles. The exterior is surrounded by a small garden from which you can get beautiful panoramic views to Guadalhorce Valley. An interpretive panel has been installed at its entrance.
The last religious temple built in Casarabonela is the Hermitage of True Cross, from the 18th century. This consists of a single nave, a main chapel with a hemispherical vault and a square-plan dressing room and a hemispherical vault on pendentives, with a plasterwork decoration. Outside it has an original brick facade distributed in three sections and three streets. Its entrance is flat and is flanked by angular blind arches. It is the headquarters of the Virgin of the Shepherdess. Outside, an interpretive panel has been installed.
Entering a more recent era of Casarabonela, you will see the 19th century Chimney Tower. It is a chimney that was part of an industrial complex for the production of electrical energy. It may be approximately 100 years old and has an interpretive panel installed.
Also at the entrance to Casarabonela town you will find the Entrance Arch at Christ Fountain, next to Christ Fountain. It is an arch made with red brick in 1939, after the Civil War. The name Casarabonela appears at the top and is popularly known as “Arco de la Fuente del Piojo”.
Around the entire town you can see a total of 45 niches in small holes excavated in the wall topped with a semicircular arch, with a wooden frame and protective glass. The origin of you are not exactly known in Casarabonela, but popular tradition says that, until the final expulsion of the Moors, Christians painted crosses on the facades of the moorish homes.
On the other hand, you will see pipes and fountains for which their original locations have been recovered and have been adorned with representations made of painted tiles that refer to Casarabonela's historical passages, its traditions and customs, agricultural tasks and some places of natural interest.
Finally, two places of interest in Casarabonela are the Buenavista Square, a magnificent viewpoint over the Guadalhorce Valley, and the Fuensanta Cross, located in a hollow carved out of the living rock.
Without leaving the town, you can continue your knowledge about the history of Casarabonela, its culture and its tradition. For this there are places such as the Sacred Art Museum, located behind the main altar of the Parish Church of Santiago Apostle, occupying the premises of what was an old sacristy. Its facilities house a very important silverware collection made of silver that covers a period from the 17th century to the current era.
One of the main sources of income for Casarabonela is and has been for much of its history the oil industry. In the Mizos Mill you can learn about the tradition and importance of this industry in Casarabonela, since it is an old mill where olive oil was obtained, first by animal traction and then by mechanical traction. Flour was also obtained, using the driving force of a waterfall. In the same place you can see a collection of utensils related to agricultural work. Outside, next to the entrance door, an interpretive panel has been installed.
A first step to get closer to the nature of Casarabonela, you can take it by visiting the "Mora i Bravard" Cactus Botanical Garden. Here you can see one of the best cactus collections in Europe, with more than 2,500 species, belonging to various botanical families.
And to continue discovering the natural environment of the municipality, Casarabonela offers you a wide list of hiking routes through different places and varied distances.
From Casarabonela town you can start the Pasture Route. It is a linear route of 3 km one way, with a low difficulty level and with an end point in the pasture area, passing by Quebrada Fountain and Big Rock. On your tour you will be able to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of much of the Guadalhorce Valley, which runs through land repopulated with Aleppo pine and scrubland typical of the Mediterranean climate.
Also from Casarabonela town the Stream of the Damsels Route begins, with 11 km one way and a low level of difficulty. It ends in Stream of the Damsels, near the municipal district of El Burgo, passing through Martínez Refuge, La Ventilla and Cortijo de Buenavista, on a route with a majestic landscape rich in flora and fauna typical of a Mediterranean climate and of riverside areas, under the rocky massifs of Sierra Prieta and Sierra Cabrilla. On your way you will find two sources of drinking water, one at the height of the Cortijo del Perdigón and another next to La Ventilla (Fig Fountain).
With 9 km and a low difficulty level you will find the Espídora Zone Route. This linear route can be done on foot or on horseback, part of Casarabonela town and has its end point in the Stream of the Damsels, passing through Martínez Refuge and the Espíldora Way. It is a route with an enormous landscape value where you will enjoy the alternation of Mediterranean forest, with Aleppo pine, poplars, eucalyptus and riverside vegetation dotted with patches of scrubland. In it you will have the opportunity to witness hunting species, Bonelli's eagles, kestrels, vultures, meloncillos and Spanish ibex. On your way you will find two sources of drinking water, one at the height of the Cortijo del Perdigón and another next to La Ventilla (Fig Fountain).
Also with 9 km of route but with a medium level of difficulty there is a route known as Ascent to Alcaparaín from Martínez Refuge. It is a route that starts from Martínez Refuge, located on the road that connects Casarabonela with El Burgo, and ends at the top of Alcaparaín Hill, overcoming a drop of 800 meters. On your tour you will get wonderful views of much of the province of Málaga, in a limestone environment with an abundance of Aleppo pine, scrubland and steppe vegetation, where you will have the opportunity to contemplate Spanish ibex, kestrels and Bonelli's eagles.
The longest route you will find in Casarabonela is the River Turón: Cortijo de la Hedionda - Cortijo de La Higuera Route. It is a 19 km route, with a low level of difficulty that starts from the town and ends in Cortijo de La Higuera, passing through Martínez Refuge and following the course of River Turón, where you will be accompanied by a typical riverside landscape with forests gallery and typical fauna of this type of enclaves. On your way you will find two sources of drinking water, one at the height of the Cortijo del Perdigón and another next to La Ventilla (Fig Fountain).
From Sierra Prieta lane begins the Ascent to the Jácara Cave, next to Martínez Refuge, on the road that connects Casarabonela with El Burgo. It is a route of 11 km one way, with a medium level of difficulty and ends in the Jácara Cave, overcoming a difference of 700 meters and passing through the Jácara Shaft, the Jácara Refuge and bordering the crest of the mountain range. On your tour you will get magnificent views to Guadalhorce Valley and an opportunity to see Spanish ibex, kestrels, golden eagles, Bonelli's eagles and foxes.
You can end up in the same place from the sidewalk that starts from Casarabonela, making another Ascent to the Jácara Cave. This is a 5 km route, with a medium level of difficulty that starts in Casarabonela and ends also in the Jácara Cave, passing through the Cristóbal Flat, Sierra Prieta lane, the Jácara Refuge and bordering the crest of the mountain range. On your tour you will get magnificent views.
Continuing with the ascents, you will be able to make the Ascent to the Hornaos Fountain, a route of 3.5 km one way and a medium level of difficulty. It leaves Casarabonela and ends at the Hornaos Fountain, passing by the Cristóbal Flat. On your tour you will be accompanied by a flora made up of Aleppo pine, general scrub and Mediterranean scrub. You will have the chance to spot foxes, kestrels, Bonelli's eagles and some hunting species.
The Ascent to the Naranjal Gorges is 1.5 km one way and a low level of difficulty. This route starts from Casarabonela and ends in the Naranjal Gorges, passing through the cemetery area. In its route the most interesting thing is the landscape with limestone cliffs cut to peak.
The first route that you will find with a high difficulty is the Ascent to Sierra Prieta, with 16 km. It departs from Casarabonela and ends at the top of Sierra Prieta at 1,518 meters above sea level, overcoming a drop of 1,000 meters and passing through places such as Martínez Refuge, the Sierra Prieta lane, the Hornaos Shaft, the Cháchara Flat and the Wood Refuge. On your tour you will be able to witness a high mountain Mediterranean flora and fauna, as well as contemplate the best panoramic views over much of the Guadalhorce Valley.
Much easier you will find the Ascent to the Cristóbal Flat, 1 km away and with a low level of difficulty. This start from Casarabonela and ends in the Cristóbal Flat, passing through the area of the cemetery and Arcalagua. On your tour you will get beautiful views of the town and its surroundings with a landscape of Aleppo pine, Mediterranean flora and scrubland, where you will have the opportunity to spot foxes, kestrels, Bonelli's eagles and some hunting species.
With a difference of 600 meters you can make the Ascent to the St. Francisco Gorge, 8 km away and a medium level of difficulty. It begins in the Casarabonela town and ends in the St. Francisco Gorge, passing through Martínez Refuge, Sierra Prieta lane. On your tour you will be able to contemplate unbeatable panoramic views of the Guadalhorce Valley and the entire area of the pasture.
Finally, there are two ways to make the Ascent to the Nursery. One from Sierra Prieta lane on a 12 km route with a medium level of difficulty, starting from Casarabonela and passing through the Martínez Refuge, Sierra Prieta lane, Hornaos Shaft, Cháchara Flat and the Wood Refuge. On your tour you will be able to enjoy wonderful panoramic views in an environment of Mediterranean flora and fauna with some high mountain species.
On the other hand, there is the route from La Ventilla, with 9 km and a medium level of difficulty, also starting at Casarabonela and passing through Martínez Refuge, Espíldora Way, Cortijo de La Ventilla and Campana Gorge. On your tour you will enjoy an environment with high landscape value, with a typically Mediterranean flora and fauna and in the areas of streams with riverside vegetation. You can cool off in a source of drinking water at the height of the Cortijo del Perdigón.
In Casarabonela there are certain celebrations that will bring you closer to the tradition of the municipality and will allow you to enjoy a festive atmosphere during your visit.
The first celebration in Casarabonela in the year is during Holy Week, with the representation of the Passion of Jesus. It takes place on Palm Sunday, Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday with the representation of the death and resurrection of Christ. It is one of the most important cultural manifestations of Casarabonela town. It is staged in the Parish Church of Santiago Apostle in an evocative and commemorative act, with very positive criticism, even at the level of the national press.
As in other municipalities, the first weekend of May the May Crosses are celebrated. In this celebration, the niches dotted around the town and the crosses inside are adorned with flowers, as well as its surroundings.
In summer the Santiago Apostle Fair takes place in early August and in honor of Santiago Apostle. These days a great program of activities and popular performances take place, making these festivals one of the most anticipated in Casarabonela.
Starting the autumn, the Flamenco Evening takes place at the end of September, in the sport centre of the Casarabonela school. It is a meeting between various flamenco singers and guitarists from the Andalusian geography, all enlivened by the performance of local dance groups.
The first weekend of October the Pilgrimage of the Virgin of the Rosary takes place. In it, the residents of Casarabonela take their patron saint in procession from the town to Martínez Refuge, about 5 km away. Once there various fun-festive events are organized.
As Christmas approaches, on December 12 of each year the Rondeles are celebrated in Casarabonela. This is the Festivity of the Virgin of the Rondeles and has been declared a National Tourist Interest Festival in Andalusia. In it, on the eve of Saint Lucia (December 13), fire is the protagonist illuminating a procession with a long tradition and closely associated with the identity of the town. The acts begin around ten at night, at which point the oil-impregnated capachos are set on fire.
Finally, on the Sunday after the Rondeles, the "Antonio Martín" Pastoral Competition takes place. It is a meeting in which pastoral workers from various towns in the province of Málaga participate. It takes place in the Parish Church of Santiago Apostle, a place with good acoustics for its celebration.
In Casarabonela a gastronomy with indigenous products such as olives and pickles, as well as their cold cuts, honey and pastries, highlights.
The typical dishes that you can taste in Casarabonela are some such as the arrope, the Málaga tripe, the pork cheeks, the potato casserole with breadcrumb omelette, the goat, the golden loin ribbon, the noodle cuisine, the rabbit with garlic, the rabbit with pepper and natural tomato, the wild asparagus in cazolilla, the porridge, the gazpachuelo, the lean with pepper, tomato and butter, the moraga, the pipeo (pot cooked with lettuce and bean pipes, which is added a mashed garlic and fried bread that is accompanied with omelets), the stew, the roasted pepper salmorejo, the boiled soups and the common golden thistle in cazolilla.
In confectionery, oil cakes, almond cakes, wine donuts, biscuits, sweet potato dumplings, shortbread cookie, rolls and macaroons stand out.