Vélez-Málaga, the best of the Axarquía and the coast of Málaga

This village hides in a fertile plain full of rich natural sites such as the Sierra de Tejeda. Back then it was one of the most powerful strongholds of Andalusia. Discover the history and the best things to see in Vélez-Málaga.

The lovely capital of the Axarquía

The largest city in the region of Axarquía, in addition to services shows its regenerated walls and historic center. However, at monumental level the offer is still reduced. Therefore, it is best to visit the two mountains that crown the population and from there start the visit to what to see in Vélez-Málaga. In this way it would go down to the central urban core, completing the tour. In total this can take a full day.

The getaway can continue in the provincial capital, Málaga. Another alternative is Nerja, called the ‘Balcony of Europe’. To know the local dishes and choose the places to rest in this area are the pages on sleeping and eating in Vélez-Málaga. On the other hand, being very well connected, it is a great base for active tourism in Málaga.

A bit of history of Vélez-Málaga


Old town of Vélez-Málaga. | Shutterstock

Before discussing what to see in Vélez-Málaga, it is best to review its long history. Thus, it has been confirmed that the Phoenicians already had a local settlement in the eighth century BC, on the edge of the river Velez. Meanwhile, in Toscanos and Chorreras Greek vestiges were found, such as a Garden Necropolis or industrial structures. From the Roman occupation there are ruins of the salting factory of Maenoba.

Already in the Muslim period, the Castle of Vélez-Málaga was built in the 10th century. Later it would be reinforced by the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. At the conclusion of the works it became one of the most formidable fortresses of Granada. These were the years of greatest splendor of the population.

Vélez-Málaga remained loyal to El Zagal during the civil war that confronted him with Boabdil. To have an idea of the power of the Castle of Vélez-Málaga, it is worth mentioning that King Ferdinand the Catholic took an army of more than sixty thousand men to besiege it. The monarch received the support of Boabdil, who were dedicated to avoid the support of the rival king. Finally, the city surrendered on April 27, 1487. The Catholic Monarchs solemnly entered it on May 3.

The signing of capitulations did not prevent the Moors from being abused over the years. Growing unrest led, on September 22, 1500, to a general capitulation. In this way the population converted to Christianity in exchange for maintaining their language, customs and reducing their taxes. Tension flared up again in 1509 and 1513, when Barbary pirates made landings. During the raids they kidnapped Christian settlers and transported Moors to Africa.

A former fortress


Its streets look out of a tale. | Shutterstock

During the winter of 1569, the Moorish population of Vélez-Málaga joined the Insurrection of the Alpujarras. After three years, they lost, being banished and dispersed throughout Castile. Already in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the entire coast is subject to raids and sightings of pirates. In addition, within the framework of the War of Succession, the Battle of the Bay of Vélez-Málaga took place. Waged in August 1704, it pitted a French fleet against an Anglo-Dutch fleet.

In 1765 the construction of the castle of the Marquis was planned. The objective was to defend the population from the incursions of Barbary pirates. Years later an Economic Society of Friends of the Country was created in the town. Through it, enlightened locals promoted the culture and industry of the place.

In the background, the Palace of Beniel, currently the headquarters of the María Zambrano Foundation. During the War of Independence, Vélez-Málaga was occupied by the French between 1808 and August 1812. As in many other towns, the fortress was destroyed when they left. Its ruins and other buildings were later affected by the earthquake of 1884. At the end of the 19th century, the cultivation of sugar cane spread and a factory was installed.

In July 1936, the population remained loyal to the Republic. However, seventy-seven right-wingers were murdered and churches were looted. The anarchist union CNT declared the self-determination of the area within the framework of the Iberian Republic. Such management lasted until February 1937, when Italian fascists and Francoists took the city. It was then that the massacre of the Málaga-Almería highway took place. In it, the coup plotters and their allies machine-gunned retreating troops and civilians.

What to see in Vélez-Málaga

torre del mar

Torre del Mar is very close and has magical beaches. | Shutterstock

The tour of what to see in Vélez-Málaga can begin at the highest point of the hill of Vélez. There are the ruins of the Castle of Vélez-Málaga, one of the most important Nasrid fortresses of the southern peninsular. The complex was blown up during the War of Independence. However, the keep was restored a few years ago. Some of the mighty walls that protected the enclosure are preserved. From there you can enjoy excellent views.

To warn the local garrison against attacks, several watchtowers were built, scattered in enclaves such as Almayate, Mezquitilla and Benajarafe. In addition, in the town of Valle-Niza stands since the 18th century the Casa Fuerte del Marqués, where a beautiful parade ground is preserved.

Continuing with what to see in Vélez-Málaga we reach the Church of Santa Maria de La Encarnacion. The temple preserves the cistern of the old mosque on which it was built. It also contains a valuable Renaissance altarpiece on the Incarnation, which in turn includes the famous image of Christ of the Vigías. On the other hand, it is the seat of the Museum of the Holy Week brotherhoods. Currently, the complex is deconsecrated.

Further on, the Church of San Juan Bautista surprises with its beautiful 16th century bell tower. Unfortunately, during the war of 1936 it lost its most important images. The same happened to most of the sacred buildings of the city.

Moving on to the conventual structures to see in Vélez-Málaga, we must highlight the Convent of the Carmelites. In its baroque dressing room is housed the image of the Virgen del Carmen. Another 16th century foundation is the Convent of San Francisco. Finally, the Teatro del Carmen is housed in the temple of a convent dating from 1591. Its cloister still survives.

The perfect combination between coast and interior


At night, Vélez-Málaga looks beautiful. | Shutterstock

There is still more sacred art to see in Vélez-Málaga. For example, the small shrine called Camarín de la Virgen de la Piedad, which contains an image of the Nazarene. Also notable is the Camarín de Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados. Located next to the Puerta Real de la Villa, it was a room for the body guard. Finally, the Hospital de San Juan de Dios is notable for its main altar and churchyard.

Already in the civil field, it is the turn of the Town Hall of Vélez-Málaga. Of classicist style, it presents in the main front the coats of arms of its builders. On the other hand, General Joaquín Blake, a famous soldier of the War of Independence, was born there in the middle of the 18th century. The House of Cervantes recalls the visit of the writer from Alcalá in 1594 as a state collector.

The Beniel Palace stands out for its central courtyard and the coffered imperial staircase of the building. At the same time, it houses the María Zambrano Foundation, about the philosopher born in this city of Málaga. A central place to see in Vélez-Málaga is the Plaza de la Constitución. There stands the Pósito, an old wheat warehouse built in the 18th century. In addition, the space contains vestiges of the medieval Arab Wall as the Puerta Real de la Villa and the Puerta de Antequera.

Worth a look is the Fountain of Fernando VI, originally built in the time of Philip II. In Torre del Mar is the Casa Larios, a beautiful building from the late 19th century. It was designed for the residence of one of the engineers of the sugar factory. This is the end of our tour of the best things to see in Vélez-Málaga.

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