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History of Alfarnatejo

Diputación de Málaga

History of Alfarnatejo

Alfarnatejo is a small village in the north of Málaga’s Axarquîa region, some 36.5 kilometres from Vêlez-Málaga. Its location 925 metres above sea level has earned it the popular nickname of "The Southern Pyrenees". The contrast of dry stone and wet vegetation creates a spectacular landscape which should not be missed.

The village is surrounded by peaks standing over one thousand metres high, such as El Chamizo (1,637 metres) in the west, and to the east, El Gallo (1,556 metres) and Vilo (1,412 metres). The difficult mountain terrain of this unique location in the province of Málaga, along with its distance from the provincial capital itself, made it an ideal base for the highwaymen centuries gone by.

The village centre, which is home to just 500 inhabitants, is pleasant and tranquil, with a wealth of typical streets to catch the attention. Its foremost monument is the 18th century church of Santo Cristo de la Cabrilla.

Near Alfarnatejo, we find three of the most spectacular cliffs in the province: Gómer, Doña Ana and Alto del Fraile. The journey from Colmenar to Alfarnatejo along the regional 340 road takes us through countryside in which evergreen oaks, cereal crops and olive trees provide a wide range of colours, while the mountains that stretch as far as the Sierra de Tejeda are scattered with tiny white farmhouses.

The history of Alfarnatejo appears to date back to prehistoric times. A number of Neolithic remains have been unearthed in the gorge of the River Sabar, while to the south, at the 1,129-metre-high Gómer cliffs, domestic utensils estimated by archaeologists to be over 5,000 years old have been discovered..

The development of the village of Alfarnatejo has always been linked to that of neighbouring Alfarnate. During the Muslim occupation, it was a farmstead that grew as a result of the presence of Sabar Castle, the ruins of which still stand on the cliffs of Alto del Fraile. The first written reference to Los Alfarnates (Alfarnate and Alfarnatejo) dates back to the 10th century, when it is described as “a busy flour-producing farmstead”, hence its name. However, the consolidation of this settlement as a “village” do not take place until Christian troops passed through in 1487, the area subsequently being repopulated by colonists from other parts of the region between 1489 and 1490. These two small villages continued to be linked until the 18th century, when they became separate municipalities.

The inhabitants of Alfarnate and Alfarnatejo share an unusual legend that is derived from their respective nicknames, "palancos” (lever-bearers) and “tejones” (badgers). The story can be traced back to the old horse track that used to link the two villages, where a huge stone was considered to mark the boundary between them. Legend has it that a heavy storm caused this stone to roll, coming to rest right in the middle of the track, rendering it impossible to use. In order to unblock it, so the story goes, the people of Alfarnate carried sticks with which to lever the stone, while their neighbours from Alfarnatejo used shovels and picks to dig, like badgers, underneath it so that it would roll away. The latter method finally prevailed and the stone rolled down to the river, on whose bed it is still believed to lie.

Its best-loved monument is the 18th century church of Santo Cristo, which is seen as a symbol of the village’s separation from neighbouring Alfarnate.