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History of Mijas

Diputación de Málaga
Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción 1. Mijas

History of Mijas

This village dates back to Roman times, as is amply witnessed to by the remains that have been discovered on the hillside near the local parish church, and at many other spots nearby.

It was already known as Tarnisa or Tarmina in Roman times and even then it must have been a prosperous place due to the proximity of the highway that connected Malaga and Cadiz.

Mijas was captured by the Arabs under Abdalaziz, son of Muza, at a quite early stage of the Moorish invasion (714) due to a deal that they made with the Hispaogodos who were living in the region. And it was the Arab leader who changed the Roman name of Tarnisa to “Mixa”, which was turned into Mijas when the Spanish re-conquered the town.

During the Muladî uprising led by Omar Ben Hafsun (at the end of the 10th and beginning of the 11Ith centuries) Mijas changed hands several times between the governing Emirate and the leader of the rebels. It was finally recaptured after the Christian troops took Malaga in 1487, which was just before the Arab kingdom collapsed totally. During the years of fighting Mijas was used as a military headquarters. The Christians who had come from the north to repopulate the area mixed in with the Arabs who chose to stay there despite having been defeated.

For their faithfulness to “Juana la Loca” during the “Guerra de las Communidades” Mijas was granted the title of “Villa” in 1512. They were also awarded a total exemption on the payments of sales tax as an extra reward. Later on, the town was honoured by the Queen and named “Muy Leal” (A very loyal town).

Mijas is one of the largest municipalities in terms of land in the whole province of Malaga, with more than 147 square kilometres of land that includes some wonderful mountainous areas right down to its 14 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline. There are many relics from past Eras along the coast, too such as the watchtowers at Calahonda, Calaburra, La Nueva and the Vieja in the Cala del Moral.

The municipality is divided up into three separate parts; Mijas Pueblo, Las Lagunas and La Cala, as well as some rural hamlets like Valtocado, la Alquerîa y Entrerrîos. On top of this , there are also some 150 small housing estates spread out within the municipal boundaries. Mijas Pueblo is situated on the side of one of the many mountains some 428 metres above sea level. Its rather elevated position gave it an enormous strategic advantage for the defence of the area in past times.

Thanks to the climate and its magnificent location, Mijas has become an extremely popular tourist resort to the extent that today many foreigners have taken up full-time residence there (there are 78 different nationalities represented according to the official register). However, the climate and the location are not the only factors that have created this interest for Mijas. The town has a living museum in its streets with the remains of the Arab defence wall that was part of the fortress that was almost completely destroyed in the Reconquest, the belfry of the Inmaculada Concepción church and the Ermita del Calvario are some excellent examples. Anyway, to get to know Mijas well the best thing to do is to take a stroll through “ El Barrio”, which is the most ancient quarter of the town. It maintains the typical white-washed walled houses, flower potted-walls and wrought-iron balconies draped in flowers, which are so characteristic of Andalusia. There are even some houses that have made the most of the nature and carved caves out of the rock to then turn them into cave-houses.

However, Mijas is not just the town, but also the beautiful surrounding mountains known as the Sierra de Mijas, which a natural paradise. Tradition has it that the Virgin Mary revealed herself to two local shepherds; Juan and Asunción. To commemorate this exceptional happening, they built a small sanctuary in a large rock and named it “ Virgen de la Peña”. A wooden image of the Patron Saint that was carved in the year 850 is kept inside the sanctuary. This very same spot, also known as “El Compas”, offers some of the most spectacular views of the region. In fact, on a good day not only is it a good place to enjoy the mountain landscapes, but also the many kilometres of coastline can be seen as well.

Mijas is famous for its "burros-taxis"(donkey taxis), which is a typical scene in the village. The fact that the village can be seen from a donkey’s back adds a special element to the tour of the town. On a donkey or on foot visitors can reach the famous La plaza de los "Siete Caños" a historically important fountain where the water from the mountains used to flow through the seven outlets the fountain had. From here the tour carries on to La plaza de la Libertad, where there is another building of interest that used to be the Town Hall, but now is home to the Museo Popular. Here visitors can see the old kind of tools, utensils and machines that locals used to use in their day to day work as farmers, fishermen and labourers as well as a selection of local craftwork by people from Mijas. There is one special room dedicated to the memory of the last Republican mayor of the town, Manuel Cortês, known locally as "el topo de Mijas" because he remained hidden at home for 30 years after fighting the state troops.

However, the local economy is solely based on tourism. There is quite an active fishing industry here, which strangely enough, also contributes to the tourist industry due to the interest it causes for visitors. There are places like the Ciudad Deportiva de Mijas where amateur swimmers from Malaga go to train or the Club Náutico( Sailing Club), which promotes sailing as a hobby in the area. Another spot is the area known as "Las Lagunas", where there is a considerable industrial and commercial activity going on every day. Last, but not least, are the numerous golf courses that, as was said earlier, are spread around the housing developments all over the town.