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History of Ojén

Diputación de Málaga
Topoguía GR 243. Sierra de las Nieves. Pagina 66. Ojén

History of Ojén

The first settlers (Neanderthal man) that are known to have set up base in Ojên were from the Middle Palaeolithic Period. Although conclusive proof has been found in the Cueva Pecho Redondo that there were also inhabitants in the area back in the Neolithic Period.

Despite the lack of direct evidence as to the existence of Roman settlements, it is believed that there was a settlement in this area that worked the land and had cattle stocks during the Early Roman period.

It was not until the year 711 when the Arabs initiated their reign, that the urban development of Ojên really began to take shape. Not only did they work on the village layout, but they also built the castle and all kinds of water irrigation resources for their agricultural activities.

Centuries later, in the year 1485, the Catholic king Fernando definitively captured the village, which had established some quite important trade links with African countries at that time. At that moment in time, Ojên was classified as being part of the larger settlement known as Marbella, which had already fallen to Christian troops that year. However, the Moors were not allowed to stay there as it was feared that they would participate in uprisings with the pirates and Berbers.

Finally, all the Moors were expelled from the region by king Felipe 3rd in 1609 and two centuries later in 1807 Ojên was granted independence status from Marbella.

Ojên was visited by King Alfonso 13th, who had been invited on a hunting trip at the Refugio de Juanar, a Parador Nacional since 1965. Nowadays it is one of the most unique hotel/restaurants in the whole province.

Ojên possesses all the characteristics common to a mountainous village, despite the fact that it is only 10 kilometres from Marbella and faces the Costa del Sol. As was commented earlier on Ojên has received some visits from some quite famous people over the years. The British writer, Francis Carter, described it as, “a village full of friendly and uncomplicated people, who know nothing of tea or coffee, but who enjoy goat’s milk in their home-made pottery mugs”. Tourism, therefore, is one of its main sources of income to the village. However, it should be added that some traditionally run agricultural industries still operate the lands, as can be evidenced by the terraces full of citrus crops and vegetables carved out onto the hillsides that surround the village.

At the entrance of the village, visitors are greeted by the fountain, known locally as "El Chorrillo". The water that flows through it is pure and of exceptionally high quality, which is to be expected as it in the famous “Sierra de las Nieves”, which throws out a high quality mountain water. Once inside the village it is not long before the streets start to rise sharply and narrow quite quickly, too. White-washed houses, draped in flowers line the streets. There are also several caves, which mother nature has left behind in the village and they add a special touch to the urban landscape. As with all villages, most of the social activity that takes place in the village is centred on the main square in the centre.

There are al lot of interesting things about this village. Perhaps, one of the most important cultural events that is organised every year is the Flamenco festival, named "El Castillo del Cante". This special event always attracts many of the top artists from the world of Flamenco. Another famous thing in the village is its almost mythical liquor, which was once one of the most select in all of Spain and which was distilled in the factory that uses to stand in the village. The creator of this special recipe was Pedro Morales, however, he kept it such a close secret that on his death he took it with him to the grave. His son attempted to carry on in his footstep, but was never able to quite create the same taste as his father.