Benamocarra is an inland village in the district of Axarquía in whose streets the Arabs have left their mark. Facing the River Vélez valley, the village is surrounded by olive and almond groves.
The famous composer from Malaga, Eduardo Ocón, was born in Benamocarra and a monument has been erected in his honour. A further tribute from the town is held in the form of the Day of Music, one of the most important dates in the town's calendar.
BENAMOCARRA IS NOT TO BE MISSED
The House where Eduardo Ocón was born, and where he spent his childhood is now a museum. A monolith has also been erected to pay tribute to this distinguished musician.
Santa Ana Church is the most striking building in Benamocarra. It was built in the 16th century and is divided into three naves, separated by pointed arches. The octagonal structure of the temple, and the exterior tower, both in Mudejar style, are of note.
The popular squares of la Constitución and el Calvario are next to the church. In the latter, "Manolo", a monument in honour of farm labourers, presides over the square.
The Fuente de Los Caños (the Spouting Fountain) takes it name from the three spouts which pour into pools below. This is where the locals from Benamocarra collected their water, and it also served as a natural wash house and a watering hole for horses. The fountain comes from a spring that passed behind an Arab style arch, and which was originally used by the Moslems to cleanse themselves before prayer.
San Isidro Hermitage was built by the residents of Benamocarra. Inside is the figure of San Isidro. The chapel of Santo Chiquito takes its name from the tiny mosaic inside which portrays a crucified Christ. Although the chapel is no longer used as a place of worship, it is well worth the visit.
The Casa Molino de Concha Collantes started as a mill at the end of the 18th century and remained in operation until 1964. Today, it is open to the public on certain days and has conserved the interior decoration from the period.
It will take you about 40 minutes to travel the 40 or so kilometres from Malaga to Benamocarra by car. The journey is easy: take the A-7 out of the city until exit 272 and then the A-356, turning off onto the MA-3116 until you get to Benamocarra.
Facing the valley of the river Vélez, Benamocarra lies on the Loma de la Quera, which separates the streams of Campanaja and Jurado. To the east there are views of fields of subtropical crops, typical of the district of Axarquía, next to orange and lemon plantations. To the west, the landscape is formed of hills covered with olive and almond trees.
The first week of September is the festival of la Candelaria, which coincides with the Day of Music. This event has been declared of Regional Tourist Interest and has received the Andalusia Progress Award in the Culture category. The village streets fill with musical performances of all types and genres.
On Easter Sunday, as well as bidding farewell to Holy Week, La Pava celebration is held. This is a tradition that has been maintained for centuries, at which friends and families gather together to eat and drink on the shores of the river Iznate. The name comes from the expression "pelar la pava" (whisper sweet nothings), and refers to the search for a partner (the primary objective of this celebration when it first originated).
The Romería de San Isidro, which includes giant paella in Plaza del Calvario, takes place on 15 May. Fireworks are let off after the procession, the partying starts in the evening and is enjoyed by the residents of Benamocarra. The next day the procession continues to Coto Escolar.
Another important date is that of the festivities in honour of Cristo de la Salud. The programme of activities includes dancing, sports competitions, belt races on horseback and a display of purebred pigeons. The celebration closes with the procession of the Cristo.
Benamocarra offers typical dishes from Axarquía, but is known for being on the Ruta del Aceite (Oil Route) and the Ruta de la Pasa (Raisin Route). In addition, in recent years the village has started to grow subtropical crops, and its cuisine has been enriched by dishes such as avocado salad. The chickpea stew and the gazpachuelo (potato and hake soup with eggs, oil and lemon) are some of these dishes, together with the "moreás" cabbages (dressed cabbages with pork) and Moscatel wine.
Benamocarra was established in the days of Arab domination. The name, of Arab origin, means ‘sons of Mukarran’, as stated in Town Hall records that have not come down to us. Traces of the Arab village can still be seen in the area of the Luchina well. The village was caught by the army of King Ferdinand the Catholic after the fall of Vélez in 1487. Until the Moorish riot eighty years later, Muslim families and old Christians lived together – a policy common to most farming areas in Axarquía, aimed at taking advantage of the advanced agricultural knowledge of the Arabs.
When the Moors where expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in 1572, Benamocarra welcomed new inhabitants from Puente Don Gonzalo (former Puente Genil), Estepa, Antequera and other villages. Information about the town is first found in the Libro de apeo (a sort of rural registry book) at the Town Archives. A few decades before, construction work had begun in the site of the Church of Santa Ana by order of the archbishop of Seville, Diego de Deza.
Eduardo Ocón was born in Benamocarra on 12 January 1833. At 18 he won the competition for the position of second organist of the Málaga Cathedral. Then he moved to Paris on a grant to complete his studies. But he missed his hometown and came back as head of the recently established Music Conservatory in Málaga.
Ocón’s organ works include seven masses and minor compositions (motets, salves, prayers, choral pieces, Ave Marias and an outstanding Miserere). His non-religious music includes the Andalusian Rhapsody and a series of Spanish Songs that earned him the Cross of Queen Isabella and a place at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He died of pneumonia at the tower of the Málaga Cathedral on 28 February 1901.
Legend has it…: Santo Chiquito
Once upon a time, in the eighteenth century, the people living in Benamocarra brought an image of Jesus Christ from Torre del Mar which was said to have worked miracles. The purpose was to protect the village from the plague assailing it. But when they tried to return the image to its original place, there was no way to do it. It was so heavy that no-one could move it.
The plague wore off and Jesus was then considered to the the Patron of good health: Cristo de la Salud. A small shrine was built where the image could not be moved: the Chapel of Santo Chiquito.
The cuisine of Benamocarra has got a lot in common with the other villages in the county of Axarquía. Must-tries include fried black pudding, chickpea soup, ajoblanco, sopa de maimones and gazpachuelo, as well as coles moreás and muscatel wine. Over recent years, the village's traditional gastronomy has been enriched with tropical produce, such as avocados, custard apples, mangos, papayas and more, which are then served in traditional dishes such as avocado salad. In terms of pastry, anis roscos, wine roscos and pirulines are absolutely delicious.
- Inhabitants (2,501-5,000)
- Inland area