Where to visit in Almáchar...
A chance to step back in time...
The pretty little medieval village of Almáchar gives visitors a chance to step back in time to see a labyrinth of whitewashed houses, perched one over another on narrow steep streets, typical of the Moorish era. There are lots of interesting alleyways and small plazas in the old quarter to explore that can take you back to how Almáchar looked hundreds of years before the Reconquest. [Photo right, old calle in Almáchar, courtesy of Carmen Ocaña (www.malagapuebloapueblo.com)]
Of course no Axarquian village would be complete without its parish church built over a former mosque, and in the form of the San Mateo church, Almáchar has its own fine example. Commemorating Almayate’s main industry, agriculture, and in particular raisin production, there is a special museum, the Museo de la Pasa, to visit.
There are many interesting plaques to read around Almáchar that tell legends of buried treasure, to more prosaic memories of the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Lastly, somewhere that visitors will get quite familiar with, is the large flat area at the entrance to Almáchar, the Maria Zambrano Cultural Park, which serves as a staging area for festivals, a playground and the main car park.
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).
The old quarter
The oldest part of Almáchar is situated in an area known as the Barrio de las Cabras, in the lower part of the village.
There are many other interesting nooks and crannies including the Jardines de El Forte and the Plaza del Santo Cristo.
The Jardines del El Forfe are to be found up calle Sevilla from Plaza España.
They are gardens built on steps cut into the hill that fall steeply down to the river bed. The views of the village and the river from here are magnificent hence its other name, the Mirador del El Forfe.
Throughout the village there are drinking fountains, as well as tiles mounted on walls either pointing the way to various places of interest, or telling visitors about the history of Almáchar.
San Mateo de Almáchar
Located in Plaza España, in the heart of the old pueblo is the Parroquia San Mateo de Almáchar.
It is built in the Gothic Renaissance style with Baroque additions, and consecrated in 1505 over the foundations of a former mosque. Originally a single nave building, it was extended in 1525.
The oldest remains are from the Mudéjar period, and include the roof and eaves. Above the square altar is Gothic style fan vaulting, which is unusual in the region.
The church actually rests on a barrel-vault joining it to the house behind on Calle de Los Mártires (photo above right), which supports the building and maintains its level against the steep fall of the hill that it’s built on.
There are two lovely Baroque chapels within the church. Legend says that the 1756 Cristo de la Misericordia (Christ of Compassion) chapel was built as a sign of gratitude for some fishermen who were saved from a shipwreck.
Other say it was built as thanks for the town’s protection in the 1754 earthquake. Whatever the reason, the local people show great devotion to this image.
Paséo de la Axarquía commemorations
After the Spanish Civil War, Almáchar, like so much of the region, suffered from deprivation and the village suffered from depopulation as many left to find work, some going to northern Spain.
In the Paséo de la Axarquía there is a tiled plaque plus a sculpture commemorating the twinning of the village with two of the Spanish communities that took in those emigrant Almácharños, erected by an association called Los Hijos de Almachar (the children of Almáchar).
While many of those from Andalucian villages that had gone seeking work subsequently returned, some from Almáchar didn’t.
However, their ingrained fondness for the culture of Andalucía remained, especially performing Flamenco, so one of the aims of Los Hijos de Almáchar, formed by the children and grandchildren of the émigrés, is in keeping it alive in these far off corners of Spain.
Note that the Paséo de la Axarquia also has a permanent covered stage (see top right of photo), where many of Almáchar’s cultural activities take place.
Raisin museum (Museo de la Pasa)
Not surprisingly, for a village so synonymous with raisins, one finds a museum entirely devoted to its production.
Located in Plaza del Santo Cristo, it is an old two-storey building which has displays of old tools, and exhibitions telling how the grapes are harvested and made into raisins.
The exhibition shows the way of life over the past five hundred years in Almáchar and tries to keep and demonstrate how every September the whole family is involved in harvesting the grape, from hauling the grapes to the drying areas to the women sitting down patiently and clipping the stems from the dried grapes.
Open every day from 9.00 to 1.00 in the morning, and 6.00 to 8.00 in the evening.
Plaque and Fountain
In La Plaza España, opposite the church, there is a plaque that recreates the history of the village, and includes on it a local legend. (Photo right, the panels shown here are just the plaque’s pictures).
Apparently, the Moors buried a huge treasure chest after they were expelled by the Christian conquerors, in a cave near to the Almáchar river – the Cueva del Toro (the Bull’s Cave).
Even today people search for this cave which legend says is guarded by a spirit,and has been blocked up by sand over the years.
The treasure was supposedly thrown into the fountain in the Jardines de El Forte and mysteriously ended up in the cave near the river.
Outside San Mateo church is a beautiful old fountain, underneath which some say leads down to the Moor’s treasure cave.
However, some argue that the treasure the Moors left behind is actually the village they were forced to depart…
Photo left, Fuente de la Plaza España outside Parroquía San Mateo, Almáchar [courtesy of Carmen Ocaña (www.malagapuebloapueblo.com)]
María Zambrano Cultural Park and fountain
This large flat zone at the entrance to the village, inaugurated in 2005, called El Parque Cultural María Zambrano, was built as a new cultural hub for the village.
The park houses various cultural and festive events throughout the year, having a permanent covered area, in addition to being a playground and a sports area.
For the rest of the time – and vital for visitors to the pueblo – the area doubles as a large car park. So, bearing in mind that there is very limited parking in the village itself, it is probably advisable to park here and walk up.
Another new highlight at this spot is the beautiful new fountain in the roundabout, celebrating Almáchar’s reputation as the ‘capital of the Moscatel raisin’. It has an enormous silver bunch of grapes at its centre, surrounded by flowers.
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Almáchar pages guide
Use the links below to explore what you can see and do in Almachar, what festivals take place through the year, and to read about the area’s fascinating history.