Nestled between vineyards, olive groves and almond orchards, you will find Moclinejo, a town of Moorish origin with narrow streets and houses adapted to the steep terrain. Known as the Puerta de la Ruta de la Pasa ("Gateway to the Raisin Road"), the municipality produces delicious wines and high-quality olive oil.
This town in the Axarquía region is perfect to visit at any time of year, but September is a really special time: the Fiesta de Viñeros (the Winemakers" Fair"), celebrated in September, is one of the most attractive events in Moclinejo"s cultural calendar.
THINGS TO SEE IN MOCLINEJO
To enjoy Moclinejo"s most interesting spaces, Plaza de España is an essential stop. You will also find the Centre for the Study of the Raisin and Muscatel Wine, responsible for promoting Moclinejo"s two most famous products.
Very nearby is the Antonio Muñoz Cabrera bodega, the perfect place to taste the local wines and learn about how they are produced. The bodega also houses a small museum, a pressing room and a room where the wine is made.
Another essential place to visit is the Casa Museo Axarquía museum, which offers an accessible journey through the region"s history and culture. The museum"s collection includes nineteenth-century flooring and old agricultural tools, as well as sculptures and paintings by different local artists.
The church of Nuestra Señora de la Gracia is the town"s most important monument. The church, of sixteenth-century and reformed in the seventeenth century comprises two naves divided by semicircular arches. Highlights of the building"s exterior are the bell tower, the Moorish arcades and the church"s roof. The most striking feature inside the church is the curious modernist balustrade of the choir stalls.
Málaga is 27 kilometres from Moclinejo. The most direct route by car is to take the E-15 motorway and to get off at exit 256 to join the MA-3200 / MA-3119 until you reach the town. It takes about 33 minutes.
Moclinejo stands on the foothills of the Piedras Blandas hill, overlooking the river Benagalbón valley. There are two trails for hiking aficionados to explore the town"s natural setting. One of the routes leads to the venta de Cárdenas inn and zig-zags through the vicinities of the source of the Totalán stream.
The landscape around Moclinejo is characterised by traditional cortijos, or farmhouses, where visitors can admire the features of the area"s rural architecture. A common feature of these houses is the secadero, or drying room, where muscat grapes are transformed into sweet raisins.
The municipality of Moclinejo is also the gateway to the Ruta de la Pasa ("Raisin Road"). The routes pass through vineyards, traditional cortijos with raisin drying areas that conserve the essence of the area"s Moorish past.
Also near the town are the Hoya de los Muertos ("Depression of the Dead") and the Cuesta de la Matanza ("Slaughter Hill"). Both names are an allusion to the bloody defeat suffered by Christian soldiers in their attempted Reconquest of these lands in the time of Muslim domination.
Another interesting site is the Manchón de las Minas, an old mine two kilometres away from Moclinejo. Although its galleries have been closed for some time, visitors can still openings excavated here to extract silver.
Moclinejo is home to festivals that are steeped in history, as well as other, considerably popular, more modern celebrations. An example of the latter is the Feria del Ganado livestock fair, which takes place in the vicinity of the river Valdés.
Moclinejo's Semana Santa is known for the Fiesta del Huerto ("Market Garden Festival") as well as for its processions. The Festival consists in the construction in the construction of a simulated Gethsemane. This is made using plant pots that the town"s young people "steal" from their neighbours, but which are returned to their rightful owners following the procession of the Resurrected Christ.
In August, the town celebrates a festival in honour of St Bartholomew, another of the years most anticipated events. The festival includes a traditional verbena party, a flamenco recital, traditional games and the procession of the town"s patron saint through the street.
For St Mark's Day (April), it is common to eat hornazos (delicious bread cooked with a boiled egg inside), while on St John's Day (June), the locals traditionally burn rag dolls known as júas.
September is the Fiesta de Viñeros, during which locals demonstrate grape treading and raisin production. Other essential aspects of this event are the singing of traditional verdiales and tasting the different foods.
Although wine and raisins are Moclinejo"s best-known products, olive oil is the fundamental ingredient of the majority of its traditional dishes. Particularly good dishes are ajoblanco (a cold soup of almond and garlic, perfect in summer), gazpachuelo (a magnificent hake soup with potatoes and a mayonnaise lightened with lemon), sopas de maimones (a kind of garlic soup) and migas (a dish made with sautéed breadcrumbs with cured meats and peppers, among other ingredients). In terms of desserts, the undisputed stars are borrachuelos (a citrus-based pastry) and roscos de vino (a kind of doughnut made with wine).
Moclinejo was founded in the days when most of Southern Spain was controlled by the Arabs. From them the village got its intricate layout. The narrow, winding streets in the Old Town evoke the times of Al-Andalus. The origin of the town"s name, on the other hand, is not well recorded. Fifteenth- and sixteenth-century chroniclers mentioned it as Moclinetum, Molinete, Moclinete, Mohinete or Molinillo.
A few years before Málaga surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs, Moclinejo was the stage of a most relevant fact. A huge army led by Alonso Aguilar came in 1483. The men and women living in the village took refuge in a castle, bringing their belongings with them. The Christians found no loot, so they set the houses on fire. The Moors retaliated by throwing rocks and arrows to the invading army. Thousands of soldiers were killed. Two toponyms commemorate their defeat: the Hoya de Los Muertos (Depression of the Dead) and the steep Cuesta de la Matanza (Slaughter Climb).
In the end, Moclinejo surrendered in 1487, the Moors being expelled in the sixteenth century. The local economy grew on the basis of vine growing and wine making, but this booming industry came to a halt with the phylloxera plague that devastated the fields in 1875 (200,000 vines killed in one year). The first pick-up signs could be seen in the twentieth century.
Today, most of the hills and slopes around the village are covered with vines producing the muscat grapes used to make Moclinejo"s quality raisins and tasty wines.
People know Moclinejo for the quality of its wine. However, the main ingredient in its local cuisine is olive oil. Typical dishes include ajoblanco, gazpachuelo, sopas de maimones and Migas. As for sweets, the undisputed stars are the borrachuelos and the wine doughnuts.
- Inland area
- Inhabitants (1,001-2,500)