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History of Ardales

Diputación de Málaga

History of Ardales

The origin of the village as an urban settlement dates back to the Age of Copper, as witnessed to by the vestiges from the Palaeolithic Age found in the cave of Doña Trinidad Grund (or of Ardales). These caves are also known Calinoria and were discovered in 1821 after an earthquake.

Later on the Romans fortified the nuclei by building a castle at the place known as the Peña de Ardales, and from then on the growth of the village went on around it. Ardales was conquered by Alhur al Tagafi in 716 and he gave it the title of “villa” and named it “Ard-Allam”, which means "Garden or God earth". The ancient stories about the events that happened in the “villa” were already told by Plinio. The Castillo de la Peña de Ardales o de la Estrella, both Roman and Arabic, was, as has been stated, the catalyst that promoted the expansion of the village up to the door of the very interesting Mudejar church.

In the 9th century Ardales became so important that it was included in the historical records of the day. The Arab leader Omar Ibn Hafsun rose up against his counterpart from Cordoba and set up his headquarters in Bobastro. The fortresses in Ardales and Turon to the East and the Alora to the South made up Bobastro’s defensive line and the area in which Omar ben Hafsun could move around to try to recruit the local people to fight for him. The castle at Ardales was, therefore, a very strategic place and in the sights of both Christians and Arabs.

It is understood that the municipality and its urban area were officially created after the Christian conquest of the castle in 1389 when, during the reign of Juan I, the “Pacto de Ardales” was signed giving royal authority for the establishment of an area of more than 10.000 hectares.

The street layout is organised from the middle outwards, with a lot of bends. The houses have always had priority over the street planning and this has created a rather open-ended village an example of the typical classic Arabic formula. The end result is a place full of torturously windy and irregular streets that turn Ardales into a cosy village that also encourages a certain vocation towards the hermit lifestyle.

Two famous people were bon in Ardales: the novelist María de Mendoza (1821) and Rafael Andrade (1856). As for the land around the village, it must be said that it has some unique aspects different from other areas of the same region. An example of this is the “Desfiladero de los Gaitanes or the Garganta del Chorro (a 400 metre-deep gorge) or the remains of Bobastro, a Mozarabe church from 898 which is carved out of the rock.