Cuento y leyenda de Nerja
Its name comes from the Arabic “narixa, naricha or narija”, which is Pre-Roman, and although not all together clear, could mean plentiful spring.
- Name of its inhabitants:
- Famous personalities:
Hisio Francisco Centurión, an army colonel and viceroy of the states of Colombia who lived between the XVIII an XIX centuries.
A legend called La Fuente de la Doncella (the Maiden’s Fountain) tells that next to a place known as the Tetuán estate, near the Burriana beach, there was a fountain where a young girl used to drink as it offered relief against an illness she had been suffering since childhood. On the way there and back she used to come across a handsome young man who also went to the fountain to enjoy the water. After some time their friendship turned into love, and although the handsome man asked her to marry him, she, aware of her illness, did not accept his proposal. This did not prove to be an obstacle for the young man to remain faithful till death and the story has been idealized as a legend of pure love linked to the fountain since the XVI century.
Another legend, this time about the Cuesta del Barranco de Melí (Hill of Melí’s Ravine), between the districts of Nerja, Frigiliana and Torrox, talks about the Moor called Melí, a Muslim who supposedly lived in the area, around the IX century. One of the many things that this curious character would do was to hide in the estates and, according to legend, frighten everyone who passed by, pretending to be a bloodthirsty bandit. What with one thing and another, Melí the Moor, who kept all the town folk amused, ended up converting to Christianity; this curious character was so famous in the area that the ravine or hill were named after Melí the Moor.
The traditional celebration of the feast of San Anton, patron saint of animals, is a popular tradition in all the towns of the region, but it is perhaps in Maro, a district of Nerja, where this custom has greatest significance. In mid-January, people celebrated in the aforementioned district the feast of San Anton; in his honor, everyone who owned an animal would light bonfires at midnight so that the saint would protect their animals over the whole year, otherwise they would get ill or die.
Today, these festivities, of which there is documentary evidence since the XVII century, are celebrated with traditional bonfires known here as lights. Mass is celebrated on the 17th and then the band and the street party mark the opening the festivities. In days gone by, four months before this, a piglet was let lose through the streets of Maro –San Anton is represented with a hog at his feet- and was fed by all the townsfolk as it ran lose; the understanding was that this was San Anton’s hog which would be auctioned on the feast of the patron saint. This is the source of the saying which says that when a family had a boy who was abandoned or spent all day out in the street, it was said: “you look like San Anton’s hog”.