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- Town history
Vélez-Málaga is the perfect combination of culture in the inland villages of Axarquía and vibrancy in the coastal enclaves in the province of Malaga. Its rich architectural heritage combined with 25 kilometres of coastline make this village a perfect destination all year round.
A stroll through the old quarter of Vélez-Málaga, declared a Site of Historic and Artistic Interest, is a trip back in time. Impressive architectural treasures and longstanding traditions still survive from the past. If looking to relax, what could be better than a trip to the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the district. The tourist resort of Torre del Mar awaits you with its magnificent promenade and beaches. In Caleta de Vélez, the fishing harbour and marina, and the Baviera Golf club, one of the best ""Pay & Play"" courses in the world.
VÉLEZ-MÁLAGA IS NOT TO BE MISSED
The Palace of the Marquis of Beniel is the most representative example of civil architecture in the capital of Axarquía. The construction of this unique building, a blend of Mudejar and Mannerist architecture, was completed in 1609. Today it is the home to the Foundation set up in memory of María Zambrano, the well-known female thinker born in Vélez-Málaga.
Close to the Palace lies the Casa de Cervantes, a manor house from the 16th century. The writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra stayed here, and according to popular tradition, an illegitimate son of King Philip IV was also born here.
A visit to the Hospital de San Juan de Dios must also be included on the cultural tour. Founded in 1487 by the Catholic Kings, it features a church with two naves and a beautiful Mudejar brick courtyard. Other examples of civil architecture in Vélez-Málaga include the Casa Larios, the Teatro del Carmen, the Pósito and the Fernando VIand San Francisco Fountains.
Must-sees for lovers of religious art include the Santa María de la Encarnación and San Juan Bautista churches. Both were built on the sites of primitive mosques in Gothic-Mudejar style, and both feature impressive bell towers. The former is today the home of the Holy Week Museum in Vélez-Málaga and contains a beautiful altarpiece from the 16th century.
The Convent of las Carmelitas de Jesús, María y José, the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de Gracia and the Convent of San Francisco and Church of Santiago are also worthy of a visit. Two chapels commemorate the entrance of King Ferdinand the Catholic to the town, together with a further three shrines. One of these is dedicated to the patron saint of the town, the Virgen de los Remedios,
Vélez-Málaga has held on to some interesting relics from its Arab past including remains of part of the ancient city wall and the Royal Entrance to the City. The Fortress was constructed at the highest point of the city in the 10th century. It was one of the most important Arab castles in the Nasrid Dynasty and the Torre del Homenaje (Keep) still stands today together with the remains of the original walls.
There are several options to get to Vélez Málaga from Málaga. If you’re driving, take the Mediterranean motorway (A-7) towards the A-356, getting off at exit 272 from the A-7. The estimated route-time is approximately 40 minutes. Another option is taking the MA-24, and then continuing on the Mediterranean motorway (taking about 45 minutes).
The district of Vélez-Málaga is divided into two territories, separated by the borough of Algarrobo and bounded by the sea to the south. Inland, the rural landscape is dominated by orchards and subtropical vegetable gardens. The local fauna includes one of the most important communities of chameleons in the Mediterranean.
With 25 kilometres of coastline, Vélez-Málaga has beaches to suit all tastes. From sandy stretches, offering a multitude of services and facilities, to secluded bathing zones. These include the beaches of Chilches, Benajarafe, Valle Niza, Bajamar, Almayate, Torre del Mar, Arenas, Caleta de Vélez and el Pijil (this is in Lagos zone).
The city also has a number of important green zones. María Zambrano Park, measuring 45,000 square metres, is the largest and offers views across the Sierras de Tejeda y Almijara. Another outstanding space is the Parque de Andalucía, containing a collection of centenary Ficus trees.
Torre del Mar is the main tourist resort of Vélez-Málaga. The beaches, the atmosphere and the long promenade make it the perfect place for a holiday by the sea. Try the famous "pescaíto" (fried fish) and sardine kebabs at the restaurants and beach bars. And the entertainment venues offer a great alternative for letting go and having fun.
Caleta de Vélez, with its fishing harbour and marina for water sports enthusiasts is also on the coast. Nearby is the golf course, located in a valley with the perfect microclimate for playing golf. The course was designed by the well-known Spanish golfer, José María Cañizares.
The Real Feria de San Miguel (Royal Fair) is held in Velez-Malaga in September. Music, dancing, food, wine and fun are the essential ingredients of these festivities which date back to 1842. The programme also includes sports competitions, leisure activities and performances from the colourful pandas de verdiales (groups performing traditional songs and dances from the province of Malaga).
The Holy Week celebrations in Vélez-Málaga are among the most important in the region. They have been declared a celebration of National Tourist Interest and of Special Interest to Tourists by the Local Authorities. Between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, nineteen different fraternities cross the streets of the city in solemn procession. A memorable event in which religious fervour combines with tradition and culture.
Other important dates in the festive calendar of Vélez-Málaga include Carnavales, the Romerías (In May and October), the Noche de San Juan and the Veladilla del Carmen, with a maritime procession. In addition, the eleven villages in the district also hold their own celebrations during the year.
Wine and oil are two of the basic ingredients in the traditional cuisine of Vélez-Málaga. Local recipes are varied and include maimones (garlic soup), tortas de bacalao con miel (cod pie with honey), pumpkin stew or "ropa vieja" (old clothes), a dish made from the meat used in cooking a traditional casserole.
Not to forget the cold dishes including the popular gazpacho (a blend of tomato, cucumber, pepper, garlic and olive oil), ajoblanco (cold garlic and almond soup usually served with grapes) or chambao (a combination of cucumber, onion and tomato). But on the coast, "pescaíto" (fried fish) and espetos de sardina (sardines spiked on a stick and roasted) rule the table. Pastries include mostachones (small flat sponge cakes), roscos de vino and tortas de aceite.
Vélez-Málaga"s eventful history begins with the eighth-century settlements on the right bank of the river. A warehouse containing Phoenician, Greek and Etruscan pottery was found in the area, attesting to the commercial activity of the Toscanos factory. To some historians, this was the site of the old Menace (Mainake).
The remains of a smelting furnace were found in Cerro del Peñón, while Cerro de Alarcón could have housed a fortress. Tombs from the seventh century BC and more than 100 from the sixth to fourth centuries BC – Jardín Necropolis – were also unearthed in the area. Finally, a fish salting factory was found to exist in Cerro del Mar.
The city of Vélez-Málaga was founded in the tenth century. It sprang from a fortress, extending into Barrio de la Villa. It became one of the most important medinas under the Nasrid dynasty, protected by stout walls. With the growth of the population, the suburbs developed.
In the thirteenth century, there were several hamlets in the area whose residents lived off farming: Almayate, Benamocarra, Benajarafe, Iznate, Cajiz… Several Arab authors point out the importance of Vélez-Málaga and the port of Mariyyat Ballis (today"s Torre del Mar) in those days.
In 1487, King Ferdinand the Catholic set out to conquer the capital of Axarquía. He arrived with a 50,000-strong army and 12,000 horsemen. When the Christians seized the fort of Bentomiz, the last Muslim governor of Vélez-Málaga sent an envoy to agree on the terms of surrender.
The battle finished on 27 April 1487. Six days later, the Catholic Monarchs entered the village. The new authorities decided to undertake an architectural transformation, restructuring public spaces and constructing new civil and religious buildings.
The trend continued in the seventeenth century, with several churches and convents being raised. The town"s streets and squares were used to house big religious festivals, as in Easter. Torre del Mar grew to become a leading port; in the eighteenth century, an expansion project was discussed to improve its facilities for exports.
During the War of Spanish Succession, Vélez-Málaga supported the Bourbons. The naval battle of Málaga was fought in its waters in 1704. The eighteenth century witnessed significant growth in most spheres, under the influence of Enlightenment ideas, popularised by the Economic Society of Friends of the Country.
In the nineteenth century, an outbreak of yellow fever decimated the population. This disaster was followed by Napoleon"s invasion, several epidemics of cholera morbus and phylloxera and the powerful earthquake that shook Axarquía in 1884. The only positive sign was the growth of sugar cane planting, under the auspices of the Larios family.
The philosopher María Zambrano was born in Vélez-Málaga en 1904. A disciple of José Ortega y Gasset, Zambrano is among the most outstanding thinkers in twentieth-century Spain. With the Spanish Civil War, she went into exile, to return only in 1984. She died seven years later, after being the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, as well as many other accolades. A foundation dedicated to her life and work was established in Vélz-Málaga in 1987. It is housed at the Palace of the Marquis of Beniel.
Wine and olive oil are two of the key ingredients for Vélez-Málaga’s cuisine. Famous local recipes to try are maimones, tortas de bacalao con miel, guisado de calabaza or la sopa vieja made with a variety of cabbage.
If you’re more into cold dishes, then gazpacho, ajoblanco or chambao are more your speed. When you hit the beach, the star dishes are most certainly the fried fish (pescaíto frito) and the sardine skewers (espetos de sardinas). If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, then mostachones, roscos de vino (wine doughnuts) and tortas de aceite (olive oil cakes) will do the trick.
- Inhabitants (+50,000)
- Coastal area