Where to visit in Acebuchal... San Antonio Bar Acebuchal Countryside Fabrica de Luz Ermita Calixto
A delightfully restored village
El Acebuchal, like many other Axarquian white villages, has been transformed in the last few years. As can be read elsewhere, the village was in ruins until a local couple bought several houses including the local tavern. Thus, after a spending a while strolling around this delightfully restored village, one’s first visit has to be their tavern, the popular Bar el Acebuchal.
Another building which has been sympathetically restored is Acebuchal’s church, La Capilla de San Antonio, which of course plays a central part in the village’s religious calendar. One of the most important places to visit around Acebuchal is actually the beautiful countryside it is set in. A few kilometres from the village, and definitely worth a visit, is the Fabrica de Luz recreation area, in a delightful setting by the Patalamara river, an idyllic spot for a picnic. Still further, and really only for the serious walkers, is the ruins of the Ermita de Calixto, a 11th century hermitage belonging to Mozarabs.
As ever, if you’ve visited any of these places, don’t forget you’re invited to leave a comment describing your experience, (note that a Facebook account is necessary).
San Antonio Chapel
La Capilla de San Antonio, like all the other properties in the village, has been sympathetically restored, and is used for special celebrations, weddings and fiestas.
It’s patron saints are San Juan and the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción.
Although El Acebuchal’s religious life recommenced in June 2005 when it held its first mass in the chapel for 50 years, the actual restoration of the building wasn’t fully completed until 2007.
Bar el Acebuchal
This establishment is one of the most popular places to visit in Acebuchal. It belongs to the family that virtually single-handedly rebuilt El Acebuchal, and by all accounts the restaurant has a very good menu, producing quality, tasty food!
As it has been for hundreds of years, this tavern is also an important resting point for hikers and horse riders, as well as for those using more modern forms of transport, such as motorcyclists and 4 by 4 trekkers. It is locally known as Antonio’s Bar, named after the Antonio that helped bring Acebuchal back to life again, as well as the current manager, Antonio, his son.
There are some mountain game dishes available, including stews made from ciervo (venison), jabalí (wild boar), conejo (rabbit) and choto (kid). Not something you will find on menus down on the costas very often.
Also, most of the produce is grown locally and organically, and even the seeded bread, cakes, ice cream, olive oil and muscatel wine are all home-made.
Bear in mind that, inevitably, the place is always very busy at weekends, and also, if you’re looking to sit out on the new terrace, that the bar closes at 4.00 pm. Also note that the restaurant is open every day except Mondays.
In order for their customers to get a feel for the history of Acebuchal the family has lined the walls of the tavern with old photos of the village and its former residents. Should you want to buy souvenirs and products from the area, Antonio has thoughtfully provided a small gift shop in the tavern!
Acebuchal’s stunning countryside
One of the most important places to visit around Acebuchal is the Andalucian countryside it is set in.
Surrounded by pine forests and wild rosemary, craggy ravines and bubbling brooks, El Acebuchal is the perfect environment for anyone who wants to get back to nature, in a peaceful setting.
You can enjoy the beautiful paths through the Natural Park, by mountain bike, on horseback, in a 4 by 4, or on a quad bike, or – for the fit – on foot, hiking.
You are sure to come across old abandoned buildings with trees outside still bearing fruit.
Fabrica de la Luz
Although nearer to Competa than Acebuchal, the recently renovated Fabrica de Luz should still be visited if you’re planning to spend some time in the area. It is an old electricity generator which once supplied Cómpeta. The Fabrica is about 4 kilometres from Acebuchal and reached along a fairly well made forestry track that runs to Cómpeta which is drivable with a normal car, but also very narrow with steep sides at times, and no barriers, so perhaps not for the feint hearted! However, the views of the pine covered hillsides and mountains are quite breathtaking.
So, it is certainly worth the journey, by foot or car. The factory is in a delightful setting by a stream called the Río Patalamara. An idyllic spot for a picnic. The Junta de Andalucía has declared the area an ‘Area recreativa’, so there are various facilities in place, including a BBQ area.
There are also various small waterfalls and rock pools which provide a great way of cooling off on a hot summer’s day, especially if you’ve decided to walk the whole way! The water seems perfectly clean, and probably even drinkable.
The building’s name, which literally translates as ‘factory of light’, comes from the fact that in the past Spanish people referred to electricity as ‘la luz’, as that was the primary use it was put to. Even to this day older people still use this term.
Ermita de Calixto
On top of a hill in the Cerro de los Monederos, a few kilometres from Acebuchal, are the ruins of the Ermita de Calixto or Hermitage of Calixto, at some 850 metres above sea level.
It is believed that this 11th century hermitage belonged to Mozarabs, Spanish Christians who lived under Moorish rule in Al-Andalus between 711 and 1492. They and their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, although they were often fluent in Arabic and even adopted elements of Arabic culture.
There seems to be some confusion as to which saint was venerated here, between that of San Calixto and San Ildefonso. Regrettably, there hasn’t apparently been a proper archaeological study which might throw up some answers. Moreover, the fact that the ancient building hasn’t been studied and therefore registered as a historic monument, has also no doubt led to its present dilapidated state.
San (Saint) Ildefonso, a 7th century Spanish scholar and theologian, is the popular choice and is a firm contender given how influential his writings were in this country. After his death, Ildefonso was canonised and remained a potent force in the peninsula for centuries, with Spanish missionaries spreading his cult worldwide. Saint Calixto, the first Pope after Saint Peter, and possibly the earliest recorded martyr, is also a renowned saint, but was Italian; however, given that the local name for the ruin is Calixto, neither can be discounted.
In latter years, the hermitage of Calixto has no doubt provided shelter for goat herders in the area, but also probably for the Maquis – the anti-Franco guerrillas that hid in, and carried out their operations from the mountains after the Civil War.
Finding the hermitage of Calixto, however, is quite a challenge though as there are no roads, or formal trails that can help guide the way! And there certainly is some steep climbing to get there, along a pathway that it is somewhat overgrown in places. You need to have knowledge of map reading, GPS and compass, and good legs! Or why not contact one of the professional walking guides in the area that organise trips to the Ermita Calixto? Try John Keo at http://www.hikingwalkingspain.com/
Acebuchal pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Acebuchal, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.