Do you want to take a look around the finest natural amphitheatre in all of Europe? Come to Periana and you will. The views from this village in the highest part of Axarquía will leave you speechless. With its rich landscapes, unique architecture and long-established customs, this destination is bound to impress.
You can't leave Periana without trying its delicious peaches and high quality oil made from the verdial olive variety. These products are celebrated in two annual fiestas, which have become unmissable events in the regional calendar.
THERE'S NO GETTING LOST IN PERIANA
The Baños de Vilo are located two and a half kilometres from the village. Here you'll find thermal baths at 600 metres above sea level, with a fountainhead sculpted more than one thousand years ago. The therapeutic properties of the water and the beautiful surrounding landscape make this enclave a must-see.
When you arrive back at the village, you can visit the 18th century stately houses, as well as the old municipal wash house and its fountain, which were the centre of social life for many decades.
The Iglesia de San Isidro Labrador is the most important monument in Periana. Built in the Neo-Mudéjar style after the 1884 earthquake, it has three naves separated by pointed arches. The winning features are the exposed brickwork on the outside and the polychrome terrazzo flooring on the inside.
The Museo del Aceite de Mondrón deserves a special mention with its traditional tools and milling stones. Here you"ll have the opportunity to learn about the production process of Mondrón oil, which has brought fame to this region in Axarquía.
If you want to take in the spectacular panoramic views, there"s no better spot than the Plaza de la Lomilleja. From the lookout, you"ll be able to make out the depression in the Guaro river and La Viñuela dam.
Periana is on the border of Granada province in the north of the Axarquía region, 48 kilometres from the city of Málaga. Take the Mediterranean Motorway (A-7) and then take the diversion to the A-356 in Vélez-Málaga. Once you get to the La Viñuela reservoir, take the A-402 and continue on the C-340, which takes you to Periana.
Periana has a dozen walking trails for you to discover the beautiful natural landscapes surrounding the village. One of these routes takes you to the Baños de Vilo, crossing the source of the Guaro river, which flows into La Viñuela dam. The other trails lead to the sierra or meander through fields with millenary olive trees, archaeological sites and oil mills.
From among the mountainous terrain, commanded by the sierras Alhama and Gallo-Vilo, the Puerto del Sol mountain pass is the highlight. Observing the holm oaks with their roots among the rocky outcrops is quite a spectacle. To the south, there are many olive groves. These trees provide the fruits for the famous verdial olive oil.
Periana is an essential stop on the Ruta del Aceite y los Montes. This tourist route goes from mountain to olive grove in pursuit of this "liquid gold" culture. Winner of an Andalusian tourism award, its itinerary includes the municipalities of Alfarnatejo, Colmenar, Riogordo, Alfarnate, Alcaucín and La Viñuela, together with many uniquely beautiful hideaways.
In Summer, the Feria de Agosto (August Festival) and the Día del Melocotón (Peach Day) are held in celebration of one of the most representative products of the municipality. Of all the activities, the best is a cooking contest for dishes made with this highly valued fruit.
Another unmissable event is the Día del Aceite Verdial (Verdial Oil Day), which has received a provincial tourism award. On this day, you can enjoy a typical mill breakfast (bread with oil, cod migas and pot coffee), try local products from the region or take part in an oil tasting. All this while listening to verdiales, a uniquely malagueño flamenco singing style.
In May, Periana celebrates the Fiestas de San Isidro Labrador, with open-air dances, parades, concerts and the procession of the saint through the village streets. Surprisingly, the festivities don"t end here. The following weekend is the romería celebration of the village"s patron saint.
It couldn"t be any other away, verdial olive oil is the basic ingredient in traditional Periana gastronomy. It is used to make sopas cachorreñas (soup with cod, oranges and eggs), migas (small pieces of toasted bread accompanied with fried pork and vegetable products), ajoblanco (a cold almond and garlic soup with oil and grapes as a garnish), gazpacho (cold tomato and vegetable soup) and gazpachuelo (soup with hake and potatoes cooked in light mayonnaise). There are also parpuchas (cod fritters with honey) and morretes (a stew with almond sauce), both of which are made with different varieties of asparagus.
For dessert, the famous local peaches are practically compulsory. As for pastries, highlights include the torta romana cake, roscos de vino (wine doughnuts) and tortas de aceite (olive oil biscuits).
Periana shows records of human settlements from the Mousterian or the Lower Palaeolithic. Proof of this was found in the site at the mount of Alcolea, close to the village of Mondrón. Remains of the Neolithic were found at the mount of El Fuerte and in Abrigo de Marchamonas. In the area of La Capellanía, adjoining La Viñuela, there appeared other lithic vestiges dating back to the Bronze Age.
In the times of Al-Andalus, Periana must have been a hamlet. Fifteenth-century chronicles refer to it as a transit area for the Christian army coming from Archidona for the Reconquista of Vélez in 1487. When the region of Axarquía was seized by the Catholic Monarchs and the Moors were expelled, the land became deserted.
The village we can see today dates from the eighteenth century. The key point in its history was the transformation of the small shrine dedicated to St Isidore the Farmer into a church in 1761. It was then that Periana was no longer part of Riogordo in terms of jurisdiction. A few decades later, settlers from the western part of Andalusia arrived and undertook urban development. But everything came to a halt with the earthquake of 1884.
Particularly violent in Axarquía, the earthquake devastated Periana, tearing down many houses and killing 58 people. In January 1885, King Alfonso XII visited the area in the aftermath of the catastrophe. He ordered 300,000 pesetas to be sent to alleviate the damage caused. The money went to the building of a new church and a surrounding district.
Today, Periana is a town of warm people and an economy based on agriculture. The main products are peaches, which many consider to be the best produced in Spain, and verdial olive oil. The village welcomes especially hinterland tourists and nature travellers.
Peaches were introduced in Periana by a man known as "El Rojo" about 200 years ago. El Rojo had been visiting relatives in Argentina, bringing peach tree seedlings back with him. The mild weather and the fertile soil were favourable, and the trees began to blossom in the area.
Legend has it…
There is a nice story about the toponym "Periana". According to oral tradition, two families wanted the village to be named after them. They were the Pereiros and the Santanas. They wrangled over it, but neither was ready to give up. The solution found was to merge both surnames into a single name. The result was "Periana".
Another story goes that Pereiro and Santana were two defensive settlements in the area in times of the Arabs. They were separated by a huge meadow, where the village emerged in 1761. The name of the village was somehow "in the middle" of both settlements.
The main crop is verdial olive oil, which plays a critical role in this town's most traditional recipes. The most typical dishes are the sopas cachorreñas, migas, ajoblanco, gazpacho and gazpachuelo. There are also the parpuchas, morretes with almond sauce and the cod omelettes with honey. For dessert, you have the famous Periana peaches, Roman cake, wine doughnuts and olive oil tortas.
- Inhabitants (2,501-5,000)
- Inland area