Surface Area: 20.6 square kilometres
What the natives are called: Jabatos
Outstanding Sights: Town Hall, El Lagar (former winery), Santo Domingo church, Museo Etnográfico (Ethnographic Museum), Moors and Christians’ Festival Visitor Centre
Geographical Location: in the Genal valley (a region of the Ronda highlands), 30 kilometres from that city and 143 from the city of Málaga. The village centre is about 670 metres above sea level. The average rainfall is 1,170 litres per square metre and the average temperature is about 15º C.
You may believe you had made a wrong turn when you leave the main road (A-369) and take the MA-8306, towards Benalauría. There is nothing to indicate you are approaching a village but it suddenly appears, with no outlying houses to announce that a population centre is near. This is the first but by no means the only surprise in store for you on your visit to this locality, which has been almost arbitrarily set down in a beautiful site between the Genal and Guadiaro river valleys.
One’s first impression of this village is of the instinctive equilibrium of cubic volumes between its white houses that climb the mountain slope and the rocky and likewise whitish background of the peaks of the nearby Loma de la Sierra and Peñón de Benadalid ranges, which rise to more than 1,100 metres. Closer at hand, near the village, stretches a multi-hued forest mass of chestnut, pine and walnut trees that share space with olive groves. The River Genal augments the beauty of the riverside landscape with its capricious bends and turns, while the Guadiaro provides gentle terrain for grain cultivation.
There is nothing in the village or its environs to indicate prehistoric human settlement, and not even the Roman presence left any mark here. Benalauría was founded by the Berbers in the first third of the eighth century A.D. Note how the name of the Banu l-Hawariya tribe resembles that of the village. Benalauría belonged to the province of Takurunna and, from the fourteenth century on, to the Nasrid kingdom of Granada. In all the Genal valley its inhabitants knew how to work the fields and manage water sources. The Moors showed respect for the environment well after the Christian Reconquista, in 1485. They remained, however, under the rule of the Ferias, Alcalás and Medinacelis. The village was witness to the revolts of the early and late sixteenth century and the population dropped drastically. During the following century, it was repopulated by people who came from the country and the Betic range.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the population grew significantly, mainly due to the area’s economic recovery, which was based on the cultivation of olive trees, vines, fruit trees, crops, and the establishment of mills, as well as cattle raising (sheep, goats, pigs) in the Guadiaro valley. However, in the mid twentieth century the traditional agricultural sector was hit by a crisis that resulted in migration, deserted fields, and abandonment of customs and activities people made a living from.
Today, there is a slow recovery stemming from rural development initiatives fostered by the local men and women, who fight for the preservation of the environment and ways of rural life characteristic of the past, as well as for the establishment of traditional urban development.
The route to Benalauría starts from the A-7 expressway or the old N-340 in the western part of the Costa del Sol. At San Pedro de Alcántara take the A-376 to Ronda, and in that town take the A-369 to past Benadalid and then turn onto the MA-8306, which leads to Benalauría. If you start from Manilva take the A-377, and after going through Algatocín turn onto the MA-8306, which goes to Benalauría.
Full graphical path: http://bit.ly/oPrIh4
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Costa del Sol Tourist Board - Plaza de la Marina, nº4 - 29015 Málaga - Tel: +34952126272 - Fax: +34952225207 - firstname.lastname@example.org