Axarquia - The Mudejar Route

By: Rudi Van Der Zalm

On the easternmost part of the Costa del Sol, near Malaga, protected from the cold northerly winds by the mountain ranges of Alhama, Tejeda and Almijara, and open to the African continent across the Mediterranean we find a region called La Axarquia. Mountain and coast, warm and fertile, rural and cosmopolitan, white and blue are all terms to describe this region.

The Axarquia is a land of history and legend, the mark of its past is still present in the many watchtowers dotted along its coastline. Its priviliged location and climate attracted many cultures who chose to settle here: Romans, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and above all Moslems.

The Axarquia offers some splendid tours to discover the many secrets of the area. One of the most interesting itineries is the Muedejar Route. The route passes through the immense heritage left by the last inhabitants of the region. This is reflected in the wonderful buildings in towns that date back to the 16th century. The same inhabitants also left an interesting farming activity that continues to this day, such as Moscatel wine, famous and appreciated, which is produced from the region's raisins using traditional methods.

The Mudejar Route covers five towns in the inner part of La Axarquia, which still preserves the most outstanding examples of Mudejar architecture in the area. Arenas, located in a small depression surrounded by hills, boasting Arab Baths and the Castle of Bentomiz, which the Arabs constructed on a previous Iberian settlement. Nearby you will find a minaret, the Alminar de Daimalos, in the town of the same name.

Archez, a village of only some 400 inhabitants, preserves the enchantment of its 'Morisco' roots, since we can admire the architectural treasures the Moslems left before being expelled, such as the Minaret Tower of the Church from the 14th century and now crowned by a Christian Belfry. In Salares we will come across another beautiful example of Mudejar art in the Minaret Tower (14th century) of the Parish church of Santa Ana, to which a belfry has also been added. In this town we have the chance to try a wine that is different to any other, since it is produced from a type of grape that is unique and unequalled: the Rome grape.

Passing through Sedella, a pretty whitewashed town with many springs, we come to Canillas de Aceituno, at the foot of the Sierra de Tejada mountain range. There is an impressive view of the Velez and Rubite river valleys, where the interesting route comes to an end.

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