History of Almáchar
The first recorded settlements in this area were just on the banks of the river and rose steadily up the sides, often using the house in front as the foundational support for the one behind. All the buildings are on a low level and, only one or two floors at the most, and made of masonry, with tiled roofs and had inner courtyards.
Amongst the labyrinth of intertwining streets, one of the most outstanding is Los Martires Street that surrounds the church. The church itself was built straight on the street on top of a barrel vault structure that connects it with the house that is directly in front of it. The “Jardines de El Forte”, “Barrio de las Cabras” or the “Plaza del Santo Cristo” are also typical and traditional spots, along with the Museo de la Pasa, which is located in the Santo Cristo square.
The name Almachar comes from the Arabic word “Al Maysar” which means “the meadows” or “land of meadows”. It was part of what was commonly known as “the Four Towns” together with Cutar, El Borge, and Moclinejo. These four towns lived under the protection of Comares and even after the reconquest of the region in 1487 they continued to depend on it.
The first historical record related to this town dates back to the 16th century when several families of shepherds occupied the land after the Moorish community abandoned it upset over the way their land where they grew an extremely high-quality grape was given away along with their properties. Up to 1611 Almachar was still written up in Malaga’s register as Macharalyate. Later on in history a large cross was raised on top of one of the surrounding hills and from then on the town appeared in many written documents as “Almachar de la cruz”. The symbol of the cross was so important that it was incorporated into the town’s coat of arms.
In May 1754 the town was hit by a series of small earthquakes that forced the inhabitants to take shelter in the surrounding farmsteads. These earth movements were attributed to Santo Cristo de la Banda Verde, and as such they began to hold a festival in his honour to commemorate the day, which takes place even today on the first Sunday of May.
The high quality of the linen and cloth manufactured towards the end of the 19th century was renown both within and far from the region. At the time of its peak there were over one hundred weaving workshops in the town. One of the saddest eras in Almachar’s history, which is still remembered by the older inhabitants, was during the Spanish Civil War, when families from the town were divided in their allegiances and fought against each other in two different factions.
From time immemorial the life of the Almachar revolves around the raisin, and it is impossible to think of the town without it. The large plots of land covered with grapes drying in the sun and the paseros can be seen from afar and are an integral part of the local landscape. The drying process goes on today in exactly the same way as it has always done for centuries. Since 1556, the town’s expanse of land has been, after El Borge, the largest producer of this sub-product of the Moscatel grape. All this said and done, it should not be forgotten that Almacahar is also the home of the most typical dish found in the Axarquia region; the “ajoblanco” (cold garlic and almond soup).