Just to the east of the Natural Park Sierra de las Nieves is Tolox, a small town in which the flowers, white houses and long streets come together to create a picturesque urban ensemble. The town offers various options allowing you enjoy a mix of activities, tastes and experiences. Nature is within an arms reach along pretty trails on the outskirts of the town, and for those in search of relaxation and wellness, Tolox has the only medicinal thermal spa in all of Spain. Towards the end of the 19th century, this sparkling mineral water was sold in bottles made in London.
MUST SEE SIGHTS IN TOLOX
Without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons people visit Tolox is the Fuente Amargosa Thermal Spa. Amongst its famous regulars, Miguel Primo de Rivera and Rafael Molina Sánchez ""Lagartijo"" stand out. This spa mainly treats inflammatory skin conditions, allergic reactions in the skin, chronic coronary artery rheumatisms and chronic inflammatory respiratory processes. These waters, unlike other natural springs, are not suitable for drinking, rather it"s the gases that come from the springs that the spa uses. The thermal spa was opened in 1869, and rebuilt after a flood at the start of the 20th century.
Of the original Tolox Castle Walls, only a stretch of wall and some wall cavity remain today. However, this castle was key in the defence of the various different towns in the area. It was built by the Phoenicians and used by the Romans and Muladi Omar Ben Hafsún in 883 in his fight against the Emirate of Córdoba"s troops. Today only the stretch of wall and wall cavity mentioned above are preserved, and where the fortress previously stood, today is the Rinconada del Castillo district.
Walking through Tolox town centre you will find the Plaza Alta, and it's majestic houses. Amongst them are the Casa de la Inquisición and the Casa del Hidalgo Fernández de Villamor, dating back to the 16th century and sporting iron bars on their whitewashed frontage. In the Tolox Popular Tradition and Art Museum House, you will find architecture and stylings typical of 19th century houses, as well as historical objects such as a missal (liturgical book) from 1864.
One of the key stops as you make your way through Tolox is the San Miguel Arcángel church. Built in the 16th century, it was burnt down in 1568 during the Moorish uprising and was rebuilt 9 years later. During these events, the area"s Chrisitans took refuge in the church. Inside you will find canvases from the 18th century that have been attributed to Diego de la Cerda.
The chapels of San Roque and the chapel of the Virgen de las Nieves are two must see destinations for lovers of heritage tourism. The chapel of San Roque, Patron Saint of the town, is 3 kilometres from the city centre and is surrounded by unbeatable views. The Virgen de las Nieves chapel is situated in a building right in the heart of Natural Park Sierra de las Nieves, surrounded by dense pinewood.
To get to Tolox, you take the access road to Tolox taken from the (A-366) Malaga-Ronda, coming from the north through Alozaina. The crossing appears after kilometre point 49. You then drive for four kilometres on the A-7250 until you get to town.
Tolox is one of the towns situated within the Natural Park Sierra de las Nieves and is a must visit location for lovers of hiking, potholing, climbing, cycling and other nature based activities. Some of the enclaves you can visit from Tolox are the Puerto de los Pilones, the Torrecilla summit, the Corona hill, and the source of the Grande River. In order to take the area in from above, you can climb to one of the natural viewpoints of the Estepera, Aguilera, Híjar or Cierva hill.
The Natural Park Sierra de las Nieves has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and awarded the EDEN prize (European Destinations of Excellence) in the Intangible Heritage and Tourism category. It extends for more than 20,100 hectares and constitutes one of Andalusia"s richest ecological strongholds due to its 3000 hectares of Spanish fir, a species in danger of extinction.
The great cultural richness of Tolox is expressed through its variety of local festivals. Amongst the more unique of its festivals, the Día de los Polvos (Powder Day) stands out. It takes place the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and involves all the townspeople throwing flour over each other. In honour of the Patron Saint, San Roque, the noisiest and most popular festival of Tolox takes place, known as "Cohetá", it is celebrated the 16th August.
There is also a festival in memory of Tolox"s Arabic past; this is the Día de las Mozas o "Día de la Cencerrá". All the young people of the town meet on the 8th December to blow conch shells and ring cowbells. Legend says that it was in this way that the town was able to remain where it was and scare away the Moors and defeat them.
The Carnivals, Semana Santa, la Romería de la Virgen de las Nieves, Culture week, la Feria del Carlon, and the Tolox Town National Folklore Festival are other examples of the events, traditions and festivities that you must see when visiting this town.
Upon visiting the kitchens of Tolox, you will see that their traditional style and excellent mix of local produce are outstanding. The region boasts: meat, vegetables, oil, flour, wine, mushrooms in autumn and wild herbs in spring (thistles, fennel, wild asparagus and collejas a wild plant whose leaves are used in Andalusian cuisine). We recommend you try the Cazuela de Samandoña (a casserole with garlic and almond), los Maimones (a type of garlic soup), el Sopeao o el Belo, (a tomato soup with eggs, oil, onion, salt and lemon). And if you fancy something sweet to finish, you must try Tolox"s excellent pastry shop, whether it be the honey pastries, oil cake, "painted" fig bread or little empanadas (similar to pasties).
The earliest settlements of which there is evidence in Tolox go back to the Neolithic Era. The archaeological findings in the cave of La Tinaja, close to Peñón de los Horcajos, point to the presence of man since prehistoric times. A tombstone from a child"s burial and several inscriptions on the walls of the church date from Roman times.
In 883, Umar ibn Hafsun seized the castle, making it a defensive bastion against the Umayyad dynasty in Córdoba. Upon his death, the castle went to his son Sulaiman, who was defeated by Abd-ar-Rahman III – and the castle was seized and ransacked. After the Reconquista (1485), it was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again 14 years later.
Together with Monda, Tolox was ceded to Marquis of Villena and Duke of Escalona in 1509. The Spanish Inquisition had a stronghold in the village. The religious authorities even reprimanded the Mayor for letting neighbours sing and dance to the rhythm of Arab tunes in family reunions. The Moorish riots brought the situation to an end, leading to the expulsion of all Moors from the village. King Philip II brought old Christians from Castile and Galicia to live here after the Moors left.
Around 1886, a woman called Micaela Merchán set up a congregation of women announcing that the end of the world was coming. Under the influence of the preaching of an ex-convict, Father José, and of Teresa Villatoro, they said they could see Virgin Mary and dead people. One day, they burnt everything they had at the stake. They got undressed ("encuerichi," they said in town) and danced around the fire, flogging themselves like Medieval flagellants. They were arrested by the Civil Guard and ended up in jail.
Many of Tolox's traditional dishes use a stovetop preparation. Just like in the rest of the region, its recipes have a foundation in local products such as farm-raised meat or game, vegetables, olive oil, flour and wine.
- Inhabitants (1,001-2,500)
- Inland area