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The History of Seven Towns that Form the Sierra Norte of Málaga: crossroads you cannot miss

Diputación de Málaga
Foto aérea recinto Ntra. Sra. Gracia Archidona

The History of Seven Towns that Form the Sierra Norte of Málaga: crossroads you cannot miss

A border line where a natural green corridor between the plains of Antequera and Granada is

The location of the area of the Sierra Norte of Málaga, with two rivers - the Genil in the north and the Guadalhorce in the south, was the reason why it was crossed by numerous civilizations which left their traces throughout history.

We can find the remains of prehistoric settlements in this area, which are as old as the Lower Palaeolithic in the case of the sites in the Upper Guadalhorce Valley, or the Bronze Age on the southern side of Camorro Hill, where a double burial was found from this period.

As time went by, the communities from the Bronze Age got in touch with peoples who came from the Mediterranean as Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians, who, upon their arrival to the Iberian Peninsula, got in touch with Tartessians, groups of people from the south of the peninsula before it was occupied by the Iberians.

After these civilisations, the Roman Empire appeared at the end of the 3rd century on the peninsula, and their rule was established for several centuries. The Visigoths have barely left any trace in this area, as these Germanic people lived there for less than a century. There are traces of some Visigoth settlements in the surroundings of Villanueva del Rosario.

The Muslim Arab invasion of Spain started in the 8th century, in 711, when some important settlements were established in the northeast Málaga: medinas of Archidona and Belda, besides certain rural settlements like farmsteads and hamlets. There are important Arab and Mozarabic sites from this period.

In the 9th century, ‘Umar ibn Ḥafṣūn’s rising against the Umayyads’ rule starts.  Hafsun’s followers built castles all over the land, like Belda castle in Cuevas de San Marcos, on Camorro Hill, Hisn fortress at the level of Conjuro Peak in Archidona, as well as a complex with citadels and the surrounding areas on the mountain Peña de los Enamorados [Lovers’ Rock]. There are also Mozarabic ruins from the 9th to 10th century, such as ‘The Caves’ at the Ochavada Square in Archidona, a rather big cave church, as well as a Mozarabic rocky church that is a kilometre away from Villanueva de Algaidas.

In the 10th century, Málaga becomes more important than Archidona. During the Almohad Caliphate, a castle and a medina were built in the Sierra de Gracia in Archidona, which include the only remaining mosque from that time in the province.

Castilians started to conquer the area of Antequera in 1410. The first attack was led by Pedro Narváez against Belda Caves. In 1424, Cuevas Altas were conquered, while Archidona was taken in 1462 by the troops led by Pedro Téllez Girón.

After the conquest had been finished, Christian repopulation of the area took place. However, it was not until the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century and throughout the Modern Period that the permanent settlements, which became present-day towns and villages, were created. Seven villages that form part of the Sierra Norte of Málaga are products of the events from that period.

The following links will provide you with the information about the history of these villages, which are what they are today thanks to their past:

• Archidona
• Cuevas Bajas
• Cuevas de San Marcos
• Villanueva de Algaidas
• Villanueva de Tapia
• Villanueva del Rosario
• Villanueva del Trabuco.