Totalan extends over the banks of two streams in the borderlands between the La Axarquia region and the Malaga Mountains. Narrow streets and white houses recall the Andalusian past, associated with the figure of the flamenco singer Antonio Molina.
Because of its location between the sea and the mountains, the Arabs converted Totalan into a surveillance spot from which to look out over the Malaga coast line. Some traces from this period still persist today in the architecture and traditional cuisine.
SOME THINGS NOT TO BE MISSED IN TOTALAN
From time immemorial, this land has witnessed many different settlements. Not far from the urban centre, in the sparsely populated area of Los Baltasares, you can look out onto the Cerro de la Corona Dolmen, a stone tomb structure, dating between the 4th and 3rd millennium BC. It is situated on top of a hill, which offers magnificent views of the surrounding areas.
Going back into the centre of the village, we come across the Torre del Violín-Mirador del Zagal, which commemorates the Arab victory against the Christian army in a battle which took place in 1483. This newly-built complex has a square, a ceramic mosaic and a tower containing exhibition rooms.
Also dating from the Muslim period is the Torre de Salazar (Salazar Tower), which is listed as a site of Cultural Interest. It was built in the 11th century on a hill which divides part of the municipality of Totalan and Malaga Bay. It functioned as a look-out tower to prevent possible invasions by enemies.
The Santa Ana parochial church is the main religious monument in Totalan. Although it dates back to the 16th century, it was reformed one century later. It has two naves, separated by rounded arches and a magnificent wooden coffered ceiling. Outside you can observe the Mudejar-style tower and an archway that connects the church building with the nearby houses.
Also worth a visit are the Jardines de la Cascada (Waterfall Gardens), Paseo de la Salud and the ancient communal washing place, located in La Huerta. The village also has a beautiful monument in honour of the flamenco singer Antonio Molina, eminent son of the village and one of the most famous flamenco artists in history.
The primary access to Totalán is by driving to the south of the Mediterranean motorway (A-7) or the N-340 national road at the intersection with Cala del Moral, three kilometres east of Málaga. Then the MA-3202 provincial road begins at the junction formed with Exit 251 of the A-7 motorway and the N-240. You'll enjoy six kilometres of beautiful views while passing by the Totalán stream.
Streams, ravines and steep slopes make up the natural environment of Totalan, sitting between the sea and mountains. There are two hiking routes that allow you to discover the most interesting spots. One of these trails leads up to the Cala del Moral beach, in the municipality of Rincón de la Victoria. The other takes you to the village of Moclinejo. Along the trail you can spot the Malaga Mountains Natural Park.
In November, Totalan celebrates its Chanfaina Festival, a feast held in honour of the area"s most typical dish. Declared to be an event of Unique Tourist Interest in the Province, it combines food tasting with exhibitions, village markets and musical events.
The celebration in honour of the Virgen del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) is the most traditional in Totalan. It takes place on the last weekend in May and its programme includes concerts, performances, belt races, large paella for all and the procession of the patron saint through the village streets.
Totalan Culture Week is in October, and coincides with Our Lady of the Rosary"s Day.
The chanfaina, which in other times provided sustenance to farmers while working, is now the most representative dish in Totalan cuisine. Its basic ingredients are potatoes, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, breadcrumbs and different spices.
Other traditional specialities include maimones (garlic soup), calabaza frita (an excellent dish of sauteed pumpkin with cold meats), ajoblanco (cold soup made with almonds, garlic, olive oil, bread, accompanied with grapes or other fruits), gazpacho (summer drink mainly tomato-based) and gazpachuelo (tasty white fish soup). Totalan also produces artisan wines, although in small quantities.
Totalán has witnessed the presence of man since prehistoric times, as attested by the dolmen in Cerro de la Corona, aka "the Moor"s tomb". The site, dating back to the fourth or third century BC, also had human bones and fragments of pieces of pottery. The dolmen is thought to have been the burial site of at least ten corpses.
In Arab times, Az-Zaghall defeated a Christian army following the course of the Totalán stream. They were planning to charge against the Muslim garrison posted near Moclinejo. Word of the invasion reached the Arabs, who got ready for battle and defeated their enemies. The attack led by Az-Zaghall was accompanied by a fiddler playing the violin from up a tower (hence the current tower"s name).
According to popular wisdom, the town"s name, "Totalán", is associated with a traditional cake made in Al-Andalus. Historical records contain mentions of hamlets called "Tortela", "Tortila" and "Tortalán". They could have been places where this sweet was made. No traces of the cake itself, however, were ever found.
The phylloxera plague affecting the region of Axarquía in the late nineteenth century did away with Totalán"s grapevines. With their primary means of income annihilated, people started leaving the fields and farmhouses. A major exodus took place half a century later, in the post-war years, when many locals left for El Palo, a district in Málaga City, in an effort to find better ways of making a living.
Chanfaina was what farmers ate to fuel their labour and is the town's signature dish. Its primary ingredients are potatoes, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, breadcrumbs and different spices. Other specialities are maimones, fried squash, ajoblanco, gazpacho and gazpachuelo. Totalán also produces small quantities of artisanal wine.
- Inland area
- Inhabitants (501-1,000)