Located in the heart of the Valle del Guadalhorce is Álora, a town with a rich historic heritage and an endless list of tourism activities. A number of civilisations flourished in these lands, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths and the Arabs. And all these cultures have left a medley of styles that will simply enhance your visit. The Álora Castle is well worth a visit, together with the wealth of natural elements in the area, in particular the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes.
MUST SEE SITES IN ÁLORA
The Phoenicians originally built the Castillo de Álora however, the coexistence with other civilisations over time has meant that it has undergone a number of transformations. The Arabs built most of what now remains, which are the towers and the walls, as well as a unique horseshoe arch, the only one of its kind in the West. It was declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 1931 and its privileged position offers views of the entire Guadalhorce Valley.
The second largest temple in the whole of the Málaga province is also located in Álora, represented by the iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación. Together with the castle it is a symbol for all the inhabitants of the town and it was built to accommodate the increasing population. The building, which has a rectangular floor plan, took an entire century to construct and it is home to one of the most worshipped religious figures of Álora.
One of the key works of Baroque art in Málaga is also located in Álora, the convento de la Virgen de las Flores. Its location on the outskirts of the village, away from other buildings, making its construction even more magnificent and it is home to the figure of the Virgen de las Flores, the patron saint of the town together with the Virgen de la Cabeza.
There are three historic chapels in Álora, all worth visiting: the 16th century Veracruz chapel; the Santa Brígida chapel; and the Castillo Cementerio chapel.
The Monumento al Cante por Malagueña, is a monument that pays homage to the origin of this flamenco palo (a form of flamenco), which began in Álora. The sculpture also serves as an ornamental fountain and the basin was made with stones from the Guadalhorce River, crowned by a bronze structure with the names of famous flamenco singers.
If you would like to learn more about the history of Álora you can visit the Museo Municipal "Rafael Leria" which includes a large part of the archaeological value of this town.
Álora is only 40 kilometres from Málaga. The best way to get there is by taking the A-357 and taking the exit that takes you on the A-343. Once you’re there, take the exit that connects with the A-6117 that directly leads you into Álora.
Rural tourism enthusiasts are in for a treat in Álora. The Desfiladero de los Gaitanes, with the Guadalhorce River cutting through it, is the perfect setting for practicing canyoning, hiking, cycling or even bungee jumping for the more intrepid. The area known as El Chorro is where many of these activities take place.
This is also the home of the Caminito del Rey, a route that cuts through the canyon, reaching heights of 100 metres and which is renowned in Spain and abroad. The site reopened after the introduction of stringent safety standards and hundreds of people walk the path every day.
In October the Sopas Perotas day is held in Álora, a festivity held in tribute to one of the most representative dishes of the area. The centre of the village becomes a communal feast, where people can try this dish and other local products and a number of other activities are held to celebrate the event.
The Festival de Verdiales, which is the most characteristic demonstration folklore in Malaga, is another significant event, also celebrated with other villages in the region, such as Almogía and Cártama, where we can sample typical products of the entire region of the Valle del Guadalhorce.
Easter Friday is particularly important during Álora's Eater Week, with processions that have now been declared a National Tourist Attraction. On the Friday, in the main village square, the throne bearers carrying the Señor de las Torres and the Virgen de las Dolores move away so that only eight people are carrying the entire weight of the religious statues on their shoulders, bringing the two together, as if they were greeting one another.
The town is split in two at the end July for the Álora fair. The daytime fair is held in the centre of the village, mainly in the plaza Fuente Arriba, where all the fun is to be found. During the evening the fun moves to the fairground located a short distance from the village and offers all types of activities for the entire family, including fairground rides, a variety of stands and acts and sports competitions.
The rural community originally created the "sopa perota", the star dish of the municipality. Locally grown products (tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and mint) and bread are the main ingredients for this dish. An energy-boosting dish full of garden vegetables.
Álora is also famous for its confectionery, including the "puerta de horno" doughnuts, the name given to these classic doughnuts with a touch of anisette and empanadillas de polvo de batata, small pastries filled with sweet potato, which are traditional in the entire region of the Valle del Guadalhorce.
The Neolithic axes found in Hoyo del Conde attest to the presence of man in Álora since prehistoric times. The Turdetans and the Phoenicians were here too, boosting local trade. In fact, the foundations of the Álora Castle were laid by the latter, who reinforced and expanded the fort"s structure. With the Arabs, it became an impregnable site of residence and defence.
Álora flourished as part of the Roman Empire. The milestone (milliarium) bearing the inscription "Municipium Iluritanum", from 79 BC, is proof of this. In the fifth century, the Visigoths tore the castle down, but it was rebuilt by the Arabs later, getting the appearance it has today. The Moors conquered the village without resistance, allowing locals to keep their religious and traditional customs as long as they paid their taxes.
In the Middle Ages, Álora was under siege from four different kings of Castile: Alfonso VIII, Alfonso XI, John II and Philip IV. In 1434, the Governor of Andalusia, Diego Gómez de Ribera, was killed in front of the Castle. The historical events surrounding his death are told in a very popular Spanish romance. Forty years later, on 10 June 1484, the army of the Catholic Monarchs charged to seize the village, succeeding after nine days of battle.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Álora enjoyed some prosperity as the place of residence of noble characters. In 1628, it got independence from Málaga. In 1699, work at the new Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación was completed. It is the second largest church in Málaga Province, consisting of a nave and two aisles separated by Tuscan columns and featuring a tower with padded pillars.
In the nineteenth century, Álora was torn apart by the feuds between the partisans of absolutism and the liberals in the context of the Carlist Wars. The tower of the church still has bullet holes that evoke those days. They are silent witnesses of the cavalry squadron that gunned down the plate commemorating the Spanish Constitution of 1812 after toppling the constitutional local government in August 1823.
Álora’s speciality is the sopa perota, a soup made with ingredients coming from the town’s orchards.
For those with a sweet tooth, you’ll love the roscos de puerta del horno (doughnuts from right out of the oven) and little empanadas with sweet potato powder, a tuber grown throughout the Valle del Guadalhorce.
- Inhabitants (10,001-25,000)
- Inland area