Surrounded by vineyards and traditional workers" cottages, El Borge is undeniably the raisin capital. Situated in the bordering territory between the Axarquía region and Montes de Málaga, this municipality offers a rural landscape that has survived the test of time.
In this village with Arab origins, the white houses strike a contrast with the colourful flowers decorating the windows and balconies. El Borge is also an excellent place to discover the histories and legends of the Spanish bandits.
THERE"S NO GETTING LOST IN EL BORGE
Towering over the entrance to the village is the Arco de la Pasa, an arch that pays homage to the most typical product from El Borge (the raisin grape). This monument includes two walls dedicated to the celebrated theologian Martín Vázquez Ciruela and the Arab doctor and botanist Ibn-Baitar.
One of the 19th century"s most famous outlaws, El Bizco de El Borge (the cross-eyed man from El Borge), was born in this Axarquía village. His house has been turned into a hotel-museum. As well as exhibiting a curious collection of objects related to Andalusian banditry, the Posada del Bandolero has a restaurant where you can try typical dishes from the region.
Barrio del Rinconcillo is another must-see for the peculiarity of its streetscape. This is the best place to observe how everyday architecture has adopted effective solutions to work around the irregular mountainous terrain in El Borge. From the steep streets (some so steep that there are stairs to climb them) the white-washed houses emerge, adorned with different varieties of geraniums.
El Borge has one of the most original religious buildings in Axarquía: the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario. Build in the 16th century, it is a combination of late Gothic and Renaissance styles with Mudejar and Baroque elements. This church, declared an Andalusian historic heritage monument, is outstanding for its 18th century alcoves, wooden framework and tower with a glazed ceramic roof.
Strolling around the village, you"ll come across the Fuente del Cuerno, a fountain with Arab origins, and Fuente de la Vendimia, whose water comes from the Fuensanta natural spring. The latter, situated in the surrounds of a typical winery, is adorned with a sculpture of a grape picker.
There are several ways to get to El Borge from Málaga by car. The fastest is taking the A-7 motorway and continuing on MA-3200, MA-3119, MA-3114 and MA-3109 towards Calle Carril, in El Borge. The shortest route starts at the N-340 and continues on MA-24, A-7, MA-3200, MA-3119, MA-3114 and MA-3109. Both routes are both approximately 35 kilometres and take about 50 minutes. As for public transport, there is the Malaga - El Borge bus line that runs twice a day Monday through Friday. The trip lasts an hour and 25 minutes.
The sloping hills covered with vineyards dominate the rural setting of El Borge, the largest producer of raisins in Spain. In fact, almost half the land is used for growing the Muscat grape variety. The hundred-year-old vines and traditional workers" cottages are the two most representative elements of the landscape, which forms part of the Ruta de la Pasa (Raisin Route) through the Axarquía region.
El Borge has a hiking route that takes you to the top of Cerro del Ejido, as well as La Alcua, an Ornithological and Botanical Park. This hideaway boasts the largest variety of flora and fauna in the region.
The Día de la Pasa (Raisin Day) is the main celebration in El Borge and the perfect excuse to try this denomination of origin product and learn about its production process, while also enjoying the most typical local dishes. The pandas de verdiales (local musicians who sing in a uniquely malagueño flamenco style) add a folkloric note to this fiesta that has received a provincial tourism award. It is held on the third Sunday in September.
The other major event in the El Borge calendar is the fiesta in honour of the patron saint San Gabriel, falling on the last three days of Holy Week. These festivities begin with the solemn religiosity of the procession before leading into entertaining shows and activities.
This Axarquía village has other popular fiestas, such as Carnaval (February), Día de San Marcos (April), the Romería de San Isidro (May) and the Noche de las Candelas de San Juan (June).
If the raisin is the queen of El Borge"s gastronomy, then Muscat wine (an extraordinary sweet wine) is the prince of its typical local products. Outstanding traditional dishes include ajoblanco (cold soup made with almonds, garlic, bread and wine with grapes as a garnish), gazpacho with broad beans or cucumber (two versions of this famous cold tomato soup, one with a bitter taste and the other a more standard flavour) and hornazo (a delicious bread made from dough with boiled egg), eaten during the feast of San Marcos.
Founded by the Arabs, El Borge was part of the district known as Cuatro Villas (Four Villages), also including Almáchar, Cútar and Moclinejo and headed by Comares. The name is derived from Al Burch, meaning "tower" or "bastion" in Arabic. El Borge was one of the focal points of Muslimresistance during the sixteenth-century Moorish riots. After the Reconquista of Axarquía by the Catholic Monarchs, many dwellers left for the Alpujarras in Granada. Some of them became leaders of the revolt.
A Christian garrison sent by the chief magistrate of Vélez-Málaga, Francisco Arévalo de Zuazo, suffocated the uprising and the Muslims were expelled. Men and women from other parts of Spain (even Segovia, Asturias or Bilbao) came to live in the deserted village.
In the mid-seventeenth century, El Borge was besieged by the plague. Two centuries later, when the local population hit a record high, it was affected by phylloxera and shaken by an earthquake in 1884.
The historical development of El Borge was always associated with muscat grape growing and raisin making, being as it is Spain"s main producer of dried grapes. A good proportion of the population earned their living from this trade, working hard in the fields. Many times, harvesters had to walk long distances carrying the grapes from the vineyards to the grape racks. They carried the baskets on their heads, treading up and down hills and gorges.
"El Bizco de El Borge"
Born to a humble family of peasants in 1837, Luis Muñoz García, aka "El Bizco de El Borge", was one of the most notorious bandits of his day. His band"s misdeeds and crimes made things difficult for the Civil Guard. There are many written accounts of his life. Some authors describe him as a cruel, merciless man. Others say he was just and generous. El Bizco died in Lucena in 1889, after being poisoned and shot by the Civil Guard. His is one of the big names in the history of Andalusian banditry.
Legend has it…
According to legend, the people living in a neighbouring town came to El Borge to fetch the image of its patron saint, St Gabriel. But something very strange happened that prevented them from doing so. As they were carrying the sculpture away, it grew heavier and heavier until it was impossible to move it any further.
Another legend has to do with the adjoining mount of Santo Pitar. A Muslim teacher lived on the summit, sounding a conch for prayer. When they heard him, the people in town used to say, "El santo pita" ("The saint is whistling"), thus giving the mount its name. Historians have a different version: the name is derived from "Sanctu Petru" to "Sant Bitar", and then to "Santo Pitar".
With raisins being the queen of El Borge's cuisine, Muscat wine is the prince of the town's typical products. It is a perfect companion for traditional dishes such as ajoblanco, cucumber and tomato gazpacho, gazpachuelo, tomato soup, cod omelettes with molasses, garlic kid goat and alborgeña chicken.
An ideal menu should wrap up with the hornazo, a classic sweet on the feast of San Marcos, for dessert.
- Inhabitants (1,001-2,500)
- Inland area