Festival of the Virgin of the Candelaria
Feb. 4th, 2018 Colmenar ,Malaga.
The drive inland from Malaga city, in the Antequera/Granada direction, takes you on a journey to the real Andalucia. Colmenar is one of the most important villages in this area, being the Capital of the Malaga Mountain villages. It is just 35 kilometers inland from Malaga, on the ‘Carretera de Colmenar’, a road that cuts and winds up through the Malaga Mountains, until you reach the village at 696 meters above sea level.
As with many villages in Andalucia, Colmenar was taken over by the Christians in the 15th century. Before that, it had been in the hands of the Romans and then the Moors. 1560 is an important date in its history because it was during the summer of that year that the boundaries were marked out, covering a total area of 65,50 Km2. Since then its administrative importance as capital of the Montes de Malaga has evolved into what it is today, with a resident population of over 3,000.
At the main entrance to Colmenar, you see the welcoming “Puerta de La Cruz” monument, which bears the town’s coat of arms, showing a beehive with seven bees flying above it (‘Colmenar’ means apiary or beehive). There is also an artistic scene depicted from 1488 when the village was taken over by Francisco de Coalla from Hamet el Zuque. As you carry on right into the heart of the town you can see that you are surrounded by hills, which have kept the expansion of the small town under control and now create a beautiful natural backdrop.
It is well worth a walk up to the highest point of the village, at the Convent of the Virgin of La Candelaria(also known as the ‘Ermita’ (hermitage) de la Candelaria). From the viewpoints, you can see the Tajo and Doña Ana gorges and looking to the right is the Sierra Nevada, snow capped in the colder months. The story is that this 17th century convent was built as a token of gratitude from a group of fishermen who were miraculously saved from death during a terrible storm off the shores of Malaga. The plasterwork in the vault reflects the mannerist design of that era. In a niche, you can see an image of La Candelaria, the patron saint of Colmenar.
It is also recommended to visit the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Built in the 16th century, there are signs of Arab influence in its architecture, especially in the three aisles with very high ceilings and separated by arches on square pillars.
One of the delights of Andalucia is to sample the cuisine in the local bars or restaurants. “Garbanzos” is a traditional dish of chickpeas cooked in stock and is a good choice in the colder months. During summer, the chilled gazpacho is refreshing and full of vitamins. “Tortilla de habas” (broad bean omelette) is another specialty worth trying. A glass of local wine will add to the country flavour of your meal. Take away some natural Colmenar honey, which is certainly the best in the area.
LOCAL CELEBRATIONS & FESTIVITIES
Virgen de la Candelaria
Fiesta in honour of the Patron Saint, at the beginning of February every year. .
Colmenar is a lovely village nestled in the northern part of the Málaga mountains (Montes de Málaga) right on the edge of both the Axarquía and the municipality of Antequera. The area where the village is located has a rather ancient history thanks to the fact that it is on the route that links the Axarquía and the GuadalhorceValley. However, the village itself could be classified as one of Andalucia’s “younger” pueblos as it wasn’t actually established until after the Christian King’s conquest and it didn’t become an independent township until 1777.
In fact, Colmenar was actually the name of an estate which produced honey (the Spanish “colmena” means beehive”). Even today you can buy honey made in the Colmenar area along with fresh locally milled flour – both white and whole grain – and also lovely raw and brown sugars. It seems the traditions behind the name “Colmenar” are still alive today.
Colmenar is not only a village, but also a municipality – one of seven municipalities in the Axarquía. The actual town is 700 metres above sea level. It is part of the “Olive Oil and Mountain Route” (Ruta del Aceite y los Montes).
The layout of Colmenar village is typical of Andalusian villages – even though it does not date back to the Moorish era when narrow, winding streets were the norm.
According to legend, the Candelaria Hermitage is a 17th century building that was erected by a group of sailors from the Canary Islands who were miraculously saved by a storm off the Málaga Coast. Supposedly the hermitage was meant to be a public display of their gratitude.
The Asunción Church was built in the 16th century and includes the remains of arab-style architecture.
Outside the village, but still within the municipality, there are archeological remains in areas like the Cueva de las Pelusas or the Cortijo de Gonzalo in the Zorrera stream area. Thanks to such sites, it’s clear that the area was inhabited as far back as Neolithic times and also during the Metal Ages
The most typical dishes served in Colmenar represent traditional Andalusian mountain fare. Try the tasty garbanzo stew, the thick, chilled “porra” soup, “migas” (fried bread crumbs) or one of the famous oven roasted meats. The town is also known for its cured meats and for cooking with local olive oil and home made “mosto” (grape juice).
One of the most popular “fiestas” in Colmenar is “Día de la Pipa”. To celebrate, everyone goes out to the countryside to for a picnic featuring local homemade specialities. The annual fair takes place during the second week of August. On February 2 every year, the patron saint, the Virgin of the Candelaria, is honoured with a procession through the streets of Colmenar and out to the hermitage. Holy Week is also observed with processions in Colmenar with the “Virgen de los Dolores” taking centre stage. At Christmas the town is decked out with nativity scenes at various points around town and villagers are especially fond of singing traditional Spanish and Andalusian Christmas carols.
Colmenar is 35 kilometers from Málaga and 44 kilometres from Vélez-Málaga.