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- Town history
Riogordo was formerly an Arab village, noticeable today in its white houses and the layout of its steep streets. Situated in the Axarquía region, it is known for its ancestral buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as its enactment of El Paso (Episode of the Passion of the Christ) during Holy Week.
With gorgeous surroundings, Riogordo is perfect for enjoying nature and learning about the local rural customs. This inland municipality forms part of the Ruta del Aceite y de los Montes de la Axarquía, a tourist route through mountains and olive groves.
THERE'S NO GETTING LOST IN RIOGORDO
The most important monument in Riogordo is the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Gracia, built in 1490. This church has a basilica floor plan with naves separated by semi-circular arches. The alcove and square tower with a hipped roof are the most outstanding features.
The Museo Etnográfico is on the same street as the church. Located in a former oil press, the displays at this ethnographic museum include oil and flour mills, wine cellars, a winery, objects from a typical 19th century house and El Paso de Riogordo chapel.
Strolling among the ancestral buildings and white-washed houses, you"ll arrive at the Ermita de San Sebastiáno de Jesús Nazareno. This 17th century chapel has a nave and barrel vault with richly decorated lunettes. The alcove adorned with an image of Jesus is a Baroque treasure.
There are many more examples of religious devotion throughout the village, with thirteen alcove chapels and the mural dedicated to El Paso de Riogordo.
This municipality in the Axarquía region is also home to interesting archaeological remains such as Phoenician tombs in the Sierra del Rey and Roman mosaics in the Villa de Auta. At Tajo de Gómer and Cerro de la Capellanía, remains from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages have been discovered.
Riogordo is an essential stop on the Ruta del Aceite y de los Montes de la Axarquía. The objective of this route is for visitors to learn about the customs and traditions of the villages they travel through, as well as to promote the excellent properties of verdial olive oil. Its itinerary includes the municipalities of Alcaucín, Alfarnate, Alfarnatejo, Colmenar, La Viñuela, Periana and Riogordo.
To get to Riogordo from Málaga, take the A-45 and A-356 motorways. The journey takes approximately 42 minutes.
Several hiking routes provide an excellent opportunity for you to explore the surrounding area with its a mix of natural landscapes and rural life. One of these routes takes you along La Cueva river, passing by old flour mills. Another route leads to the Sierra del Rey with its forest that is home to local species such as mountain goats and genets.
The Gómer, Doña Ana and Fraile gorges form a rocky elevation with spectacular views. The Valle de Auta is also worth visiting. Here you can see Roman ruins near the Borbollón natural spring and Phoenician tombs.
The Feria de Mayo (May Festival), known as Veladilla (little soiree), is one of the main events in the local calendar. Its kicks off with the opening of the cattle fair, followed by falconry shows, plays and traditional games. During the festival, the Día del Caracol (Snail Day) is celebrated, including a tasting of snails in broth, lively music and regional dances.
In August, the Riogordo patron saint festivities and the Río del Cante flamenco festival are held, and then in September comes the Fiesta del Candil (Oil Lamp Festival), otherwise known as Noche de las Candelas (Night of the Candles).
However, the enactment of El Paso de Riogordo is by far the most important event in this Axarquía village. During Holy Week, residents act out the Life, Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. This celebration has its roots in the proclamations that were recited in the 17th century. As one of the most famous religious plays in Spain, it has received national and provincial tourism awards.
The most representative local dish in Riogordo is caracoles en caldo (snails in broth). Other typical recipes include migas (pieces of toasted bread with pork cuts), porra campesina (cold creamy soup made with tomato, garlic, peppers and oil), gazpacho de habas verdes (gazpacho with broad beans, fennel, peppers, tomato, onion and bread) and gazpacho de pimentón (a slightly different gazpacho recipe with tomato, peppers, garlic, oil and bread). These dishes are prepared with locally grown vegetables and the regional speciality: verdial olive oil.
In Riogordo, you can also try some delicious artisan deli meats and roscos de aceite (oil doughnuts), which are sure to leave you licking your fingers.
Riogordo has been a transit and settlement area since prehistoric times. The archaeological evidence found near the river La Cueva attests to the presence of man since the Neolithic Age. Phoenician tombs next to Sierra del Rey and the third-century mosaics from the Roman villa in Auta reveal that the area attracted many important civilisations.
It was under the Arabs, however, that Riogordo experienced an expansion boom. According to some historians, the castle of Bobastro lay near Cortijo de Auta. Others believe the area is the homeland of Umar ibn Hafsun, the Christian warrior who led the riots against the Umayyad dynasty in Córdoba. (A different line of research considers Parauta to be his place of birth.
Seized by Christian troops during the Reconquista in 1487, Riogordo was annexed to Comares. Most of the land was transferred to Francisco de Coalla, governor of Málaga and first lord of Auta. In the early sixteenth century, people referred to the village as "Puebla de Riogordo". (Before, it was known as "Aprisco de Majianza".) It was then that the local population and the economy began to grow.
In 1552, Riogordo become a town in its own right. Two centuries later, the introduction of vines brought a new era of prosperity and expansion. Meanwhile, the population kept growing until 1882, when the phylloxera plague had a devastating impact on local fields. The toponym "Riogordo" for this village in Axarquía comes from the old name of the river La Cueva, "Río Gordo" (Fat River). It used to be called "Río de Oro" (Golden River) too, for its water carried minerals.
People from Riogordo
Umar ibn Hafsun travelled the south of the Iberian Peninsula as the leader of the rebels against the Emirate of Córdoba. This made historians think he came to Riogordo, irrespective of his place of birth. After coming to power, Abd-ar-Rahman III had him persecuted and cornered in his castle of Bobastro. Ibn Hafsun died in 917, 20 years after converting to the Christian faith. His daughter, Argentea, died a martyr.
Many centuries later, Riogordo produced another interesting character. This time it was a priest: José A. Muñoz Sánchez. He was really brave fighting the French during the Peninsular War as captain of a cavalry squadron. He played a crucial role in the attack against the garrison in Arenas and the desertion of 1,500 men in Torrox. Muñoz Sánchez also fought and punished the people who took advantage of the confusion brought about by the armed conflict to plunder and pillage.
The most representative elements of Riogordo's cuisine are the snails in broth, along with the migas, the peasant's porra, the green bean gazpacho and paprika are also typical. These dishes use vegetables from local crops and "verdial" olive oil.
You can also taste some delicious handmade sausages and olive oil roscos.
- Inhabitants (2,501-5,000)
- Inland area