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History of Benadalid

Diputación de Málaga

History of Benadalid

The information available regarding the first settlers at Benadalid goes back to several literary documents dated from the Roman Era that give witness to a Celtic settlement in the mountains. This settlement was most probably the one that the Romans came across after the defeat in the IInd Punic War. The Romanization of the area was rapid and very profound as the economic benefits that the area could provide for the Empire were quite large. The Romans built the castle, which is one of the most original in all of Andalusia and which is today used as a cemetery.

However, despite the defence system that included the castle and several watchtowers, they were not able to repulse the attack by the Arabs around the 8th century. The Moors took over control of the castle and the surrounding land up until the time of the Reconquest by the Catholic Kings, who entrusted both Benadalid and Benalauria to Conde de Feria in 1494.

Anyway, the Arab population lived together with the Christians until their expulsion. There were very few Christians left in the area after this date, which meant that the villages were left practically empty. From then on the growth and evolution of this specific village was very much in line with that of the other surrounding ones and similar to that of the whole of Spain as well. Bandits were common all around and the War of Independence affected the whole region at the beginning of the 19th century.

As has already been stated, its castle, of Roman origin, precedes in time the traces of the Arab settlement at Benamaya, a beautiful fountain from the 17th century and the remains of a monumental Way of the Cross, which has probably been part of the village’s tradition for a very long time. There are ceramic motifs on the facades of the buildings of Saints and Virgins, especially of the Sagrado Corazón de Jesús.

The built-up part of the town is centred on the church of San Isidoro and the Town Hall, which are both in the plaza de Beni al Jali. The typical local architecture is preserved and the older houses have been restored and do not, therefore, need to be knocked down. The streets are slowly being re-paved according to the original design, too.

Almost half of the land that makes up this municipality is forested and this amount is rising constantly as the existing olive trees are changed for chestnut trees. Animal farmers make little use of the land. However, there are a lot of aromatic plants. In the town itself there is an abundant number of water, which has created a type of “water culture”. An example of this can be found in the way that Benalauria has transferred water to it during the Summer for many season sources. However, what started out as a tradition, turned into something more like an obligation and this has been the source of much conflict over the years. In fact, in 1860 a “alcalde de agua” (water mayor) had to be named in order to supervise the transfer of a just and balanced amount of water.