Carratraca is a municipality in the Guadalteba region of the province of Malaga, located in a beautiful setting among the mountains of Alcaparaín, Baños and Aguas.
Its urban area has Place of Cultural Interest status, but one fact draws more attention than any other. Since Roman times, the therapeutic waters of the Carratraca spring have attracted travelers from around the world. In fact, its fame in the nineteenth century led it to become known as "Little Monte Carlo".
NOT TO MISS IN CARRATRACA
The Carratraca spa is the main point of interest of the municipality. Neoclassic in style, this resort has hosted many personalities since its opening in 1855, for example the poet Lord Byron.
The Bull ring is an original construction from 1878 whose grandstand sits on a rock. Here, a famous representation of Holy Week is held, staged by the local people. From the back of the square, we can follow the beautiful forest road leading to the ancient shrine of the Virgin of Health.
The Town Hall of Carratraca is located in what was the summer residence of Doña Trinidad Grund, a beautiful building in the "New Mudéjar" style.
Here is also located the 'A spring for a spa' Interpretation Centre, which takes us back to the nineteenth century, when Carratraca enjoyed great fame and when the town"s splendid buildings were constructed.
Finally, we can visit the Our Lady of Health church, a nineteenth century temple distinguished by a New Mudéjar structure.
Carratraca is about 50 kilometres from the centre of Málaga. If you travel by car, take the A-357 road until you reach your destination. The trip takes about 45 minutes.
Carratraca settings are especially interesting in terms of the landscape and natural attractions. The Alcaparaín, Baños and Aguas ranges make an ideal environment for caving. We also highlight the Duende cave, the Gorda chasm, the Alcaparaín shelter and the Murciélagos chasm.
In September, Carratraca hosts the 'Embrujo Andalusí' Festival, ("The Spell of Al-Andalus"), in which the town is decorated as at the time of Al-Andalus. Shows are organized, and there is a souk, theater, food and crafts and. At nightfall, 120,000 candles and oil lamps illuminate the town.
In spring, the town's Holy Week offers very special moments to visitors, such as the Passion of Christ, reenacted by the residents on Good Friday.
Other festivities held in Carratraca are the St John's Day, on June 24, and the celebrations of the Virgin of Health, in mid-August, when the town"s patron saint is carried in procession to the Spa to bless its waters.
Carratraca"s specialties are jarrete a la campera, chivo a la pastoril and tripe. Other examples of the town"s traditional cuisine are a potato casserole with almonds, a stew of beans and chard, berza (a meat casserole), and tarts made from breadcrumbs.
Desserts include "oil biscuits", almond cakes and sponge cakes.
Evidence found in the municipality of Carratraca indicates that men have lived here since time immemorial. A 40m-deep depression in Sierra de Alcaparaín was found to contain a Neolithic burial site, prehistoric paintings and ceramics. The Romans, who did not take long to realise that the water springs had healing properties, left coins from the times of Tiberius, Claudius and Julius Caesar at the site of La Glorieta.
Despite these hints of an eventful past, the village we can see today only emerged in the nineteenth century, as a result of the expansion of the cortijo Aguas Hediondas, where there were baths and a shrine built in the eighteenth century. With so many visitors coming to try the sulphur water, the need arose to develop a new spa. A tender was called and work began in 1847, the project and its budget having been approved at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Art.
The new spa welcomed the cream of the crop: Eugenia de Montijo, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo, Lord Byron, the affluent Heredias, and many others. They themselves attracted many other visitors. In the late nineteenth century, about 5,000 people a year visited the spa in the bathing season, and this had a positive impact on the local economy. By then, Carratraca – the forerunner of health and wellness tourism in Málaga Province – already had a bullring and two casinos.
In 1821, the municipality became independent of Casarabonela. Since then, this town located some 50km from Málaga City and at a similar distance from Ronda, has been a self-governing entity. The town centre is perched on Sierra Blanquilla, affording great viewpoints of the surrounding hinterland landscape. Tourist facilities include a luxury hotel in a former guest house built between 1830 and 1832 to welcome King Ferdinand VII. The hotel"s waters, also rich in sulphur, have been declared to be of public interest.
The dishes in Carratraca's cuisine containing pork and kid goat products stand out. The typical specialities are the hock to the jacket, the goat to the pastoral and the tripe of Carratraca.
Among the town's traditional recipes are the casserole with almonds, bean and chard stew, cabbage and the breadcrumb omelettes.
For dessert, standout sweet treats include the olive oil cakes, almond cakes, cubiletes (pies in the form of a basin with minced meat filling), lard doughnuts and sponge cakes.
- Inhabitants (501-1,000)
- Inland area