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Magical Villages in the Serranía de Ronda: Letter A, from Algatocín to Atajate

Diputación de Málaga
Algatocín. Vista

Magical Villages in the Serranía de Ronda: Letter A, from Algatocín to Atajate

All these towns except Arriate are placed between the rivers Genal and Guadiaro


This village lies on the right side of the Genal, under the outcrops of Sierra del Fraile at an altitude of 724 m. In 2021, 825 inhabitants were registered in the village.

Decorated with white streets and green mountains, Algatocín awaits visitors to show them its magical Morisco heritage and plentiful ecological resources in the Serranía de Ronda. This municipality is on the side of the mountain that separates the Genal and Guadiaro and it is an ideal destination for nature and food lovers. The peculiar urban display, which is of Arab origin, adapts to the slopes with its steep, narrow, curvy streets.

On its streets buildings from the 18th century with shields with coat of arms are displayed, s well as plenty of plants which are carefully looked after by local people. From far away, you can see the old town with Andalusan legacy and the Tower of the church Our Lady of the Rosary. According to a legend, the church was built over the old palace that belonged to the daughter of the second Moorish king of Ronda. That temple from the 16th century is one of the most important buildings in Algatocín and it can easily be recognized thanks to its ceramic bell-tower cupola. There is an image of St Francisco from the 18th century, carved in coloured wood, inside of it.

Another sight which appeals to tourists is St Antony’s Fountain. There is also the  Chapel of Holy Christ with wonderful views over the Genal Valley, the Sierra Bermeja and nearby towns Jubrique and Genalguacil. Another place with breathtaking views is General’s Vintage Point, which is only a kilometre away from the centre of Algatocín. You can see the valley, Alpandeire, Faraján, Jubrique and Genalguacil from there.

There is a festival dedicated to Patron St Francisco and Our Lady of the Rosary. At Easter, people celebrate the garden with baby Jesus and the Burning of Judas. Days before Christmas, there is a festive called ‘Mañanitas’ (Mornings) when people sing traditional songs, have early masses at dawn, and have traditional breakfast.


It is placed in the Genal Valley at the altitude of 670 m, at the bottom of the Jarastepar Mountains. It has only 261 inhabitants, and it is made of whitewashed Arab houses. The town was built round 711, and it was one of the first settlements formed by Muslims in the Serranía de Ronda. However, archaeological ruins, such as Encinas Borachas and Montero dolmens show that humans were present here in prehistory.

In the 19th century, Alpandeire participated in guerillas uprising against Napoleon’s invasion in the Peninsular War or ‘Spanish War of Independence’ (1808-1814), which is why it was appointed ‘Villa’ by Fernando VII.

This town is famous for being the place of birth of one of the most popular saints in Andalusia – Leopold of Alpandeire (Francisco Márquez Sánchez), a monk from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, who was born in 1864 and beatified by the Catholic Church in 2010. He became a professed religious when he was 35 and one of Capuchin friars. In 1914, he went to live in Granada, where he died in 1956, when he was 92 years old.

Alpandeire has narrow streets of typical Andalusian style and preserves rich natural resources of the Serranía de Ronda. St Antony of Padua Church stands out in the small village due to its big size. This is why it is called the cathedral of the Searranía de Ronda. This church was built in the 16th century and refurbished in the 18th century. There is an old cemetery in its basement, where mummified bodies of a married couple who financed the building of the temple were found in perfect state. Devoted people who worship St Leopold can also visit the baptismal font where he was baptised.

Other sites are the old granary, which was turned into a cultural centre, St Leopold’s birthplace and gardens. Close to this house, one can also see the bronze statue dedicated to the friar. There is another statue of him with a boy at the vintage point named after him (Mirador de Fray Leopoldo). At this spot, which is placed at the road between Alpandeire and Faraján, you can admire wonderful panoramic views of the area. 

As this is where Leopold of Alpandeire was born, the village is the beginning of St Leopold’s Route, a pilgrimage trail which has several stages and goes through the towns of Cartajima, Pujerra, Igualeja, Júzcar and Faraján.

The celebration called Garden of Baby Jesus during Holy Week is very popular.  In the middle of August, there are celebration dedicated to patron St Roch.

Finally, we remind you that, besides other paths, stage 6 of the long-distance Serranía de Ronda Great Path goes through Alpandeire (GR 141).


Arriate has Moorish origins. It belongs to the Serranía de Ronda and it is placed in its hollow at an altitude of 603 m. The current number of inhabitants is 4,112. There are wonderful views of the fertile valley around the Guadalcobacín River, a long tradition of carpentry and its famous Holy Week, which is one of the Unique Tourist Festivities in the province. This is why Arriate is a destination for which you will need all your senses. Quality lifestyle is one of the reasons why plenty of foreigners and families with young children choose this place to settle, so the population has increased recently.

The most important monuments in the village are St John of Lateran Church (San Juan de Letrán church)  with a beautiful bell tower. This beautiful example of Andalusian Renaissance architecture stands out thanks to the Mudejar style applied in carpentry and its bell tower. Even though it was built late in 1960, it became a symbol of the village and local scenery. Due to the political developments in 1936, the church went through two assaults with terrible consequences. First time, the main reredos, organ and statues and images that were 200 years old, and which were used in Holy Week parades, were damaged. In the second attack, other parts of the furniture were destroyed. Only the sculpture of Our Father Jesus of Nazareth was saved in neighbours’ houses.

As for their religious importance, two brotherhood houses stand out: the Royal, Age-Old and Vulnerable Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus from Nazareth and the Brotherhood of Jesus Christ and the Holy Blood and Burial of Jesus.

We recommend taking a walk through the village along the Guadalcobacín River and admire the landscape from Estacá vintage point. Other option is to enjoy the view from a viewpoint in La Habana Street.

Finally, you can also have a walk along its streets and observe handmade wooden doors of many of the houses, which are the result of a long history of carpentry in this village. The most popular and crowded streets are Paseo de la Estación [Station Walk] and La Plaza [The Square].

You should also visit the Ventanilla Stream gorge, where you can get by following a circular path which is 3.1 km long. Remember that stage 4 of the Great Málaga Path (GR 249.5) goes through Arriate.

Festivals and the fair in San Pedro which belong to Corpus Christi celebrations are the most important event at the end of June. The same as in Ronda, Easter in Arriate is a festival of National Tourist Interest in Andalusia. Another curious tradition is the festival called ‘Partir la Vieja’ or ‘stop the old Lent’, which in the past referred to the break in the strict Lent that Catholic church asked from its followers. The celebration takes place in the rural centre of Parchite in the middle of Lent.


The village is placed at the headwaters of the River Genal, at an altitude of 745 m, almost at the border with the Guadiaro Valley. This is a village with the smallest population in the province of Málaga with only 179 inhabitants.

Atajate is an ideal destination where you can rest from the noise and crowd of the Costa del Sol. It is placed between the Guadiaro and Genal valleys and filled with whitewashed houses of Arab origin.

The old Atajate, is likely to be founded on the nearby Cuervo Hill and must have had a castle and fortresses during the Arab rule. Later, this spot was also important in the battles between Muslims and Christians due to its strategic location between Ronda and Gaucín. During the Peninsular War in the 19th century, the village was destroyed by Napoleon’s army and became a shelter for bandits.

Even though it has small population, Atajate has very interesting buildings from the 18th century and several monuments that should be visited. St Joseph or St Roch Church (San José or San Roque church) was built in the 18th century, but its baroque details were created one century later. There is a part of the facade, which is made of bricks in Renaissance style, which is also the oldest architectural pieces in the village. On the Cruz de Piedra [Stone Cross] square and the entrance to the village, there is a well-preserved washing place, a great example of a popular architecture in the Serranía de Ronda. This is a simple structure with a roof where women would go to wash clothes. Another beautiful fountain is the one in Barrio Alto.

Despite being the least populated town in the province, it has an important tourist supply, especially, restaurants.

Grape juice (‘mosto’) is the most important product in Atajate. At the end of the 19th century, there was a major outbreak of phylloxera, a parasite that destroys grapevine, which wiped out vines in Europe and America, causing not only economic damage, but also the one of the landscape and culture in the areas that produced wine. Curiously, in Atajate, dormant vine was used to produced grape juice, which is rather popular there.

Today, this village has scattered sculptures all over it as an open museum. They explain how this grape juice is traditionally obtained. Inhabitants gather during the last week of November to celebrate Grape Juice Festival, designated a Unique Festivity in the province - a competition when they taste juice and traditional migas (dish made of bread crumbs, chorizo and other ingredients), and roast chestnuts.

The fair is celebrated in August in honour of their patron Saint Roch and Our Lady of
the Rosary