The town of Canillas de Aceituno extends along the slopes of the Sierra Tejeda to the La Maroma peak, the highest in the province of Malaga. For it’s location alone, this town in the Axarquia region of Andalucia, is the perfect place to enjoy both nature and culture.
Founded in the Al-Andalus period, and now classed as one of the gateway towns into the Axarquia, the town conserves its Arabic roots through the layout of it’s streets and various interesting architectural sites. This historical legacy means Canillas de Aceituno forms part of the Mudejar Route, which has been declared as Tourist Interest in Andalusia.
MUST SEE SIGHTS IN CANILLAS DE ACEITUNO
When walking through the town one can see the Casa de los Diezmos, also named the Casa de la Reina Mora, which sports a tower with blind twin arches. The building, an example of the areas’ typical Mudejar architecture, was the place from which the silk worm and mulberry leaf trade was overseen.
Another example of the towns’ historical architecture is the Casa Esgrafiada. It was built in the 16th century and is decorated with Moorish motifs and horseshoe arches. The building also boasts a lookout tower erected in the 17th century. Currently whitewashed over, the image shows the house as it was in 1934.
Canillas de Aceituno has various reservoirs, showing the importance of water in the town. El Aljibe Arabe is from the 16th century and can be found on Calle Huertezuelo and more modern examples include El Pilar Grande in the town hall, and El Chico.
The church of Nuestra Senora del Rosario y San Leon Magno dates back to the 16th century and is in a Gothic-Mudejar style. Its’ interior has two Baroque chapels and an image of the Virgin de la Cabeza with various valuable silver-plated features, as well as other interesting pieces of artwork.
From the viewpoint of the Plaza de Castille, and at the top of Calle Calzada, you can see the ruins of the fortaleza de Canillas de Aceituno. Occupied by the Christians during the reconquest of 1487, some remains of the wall of the original complex fortification that used to protect the town, are conserved.
Canillas de Aceituno was founded in the times of Muslim Spain , but traces have been found of primitive settlements in the natural area of La Fajara. Furthermore, the village sits next to Boquete de Zafarraya, which has connected the hinterland with coastal areas since the dawn of time, probably attracting civilisations like the Phoenicians and the Romans.
In Muslim times, the village was called Canillas Azzeitun and belonged to the kingdom of Granada. It is not known when exactly it was taken over by Christian troops. In the 16th century, a man called Al Muezzin came to town looking for his wife, who was a slave in a Christian household. He led the riot that ended with eight Christians being killed. As a reponse, the authorities in Velez had the Muslim leaders sent to prison, tortured and deprived of their belongings, but this only made the rebels stronger. Once stifled, the Moors were expelled and their castle destroyed by order of Kind Philip the 2nd.
Christian men and women came from Archidona, Antequera, Lucena, Cabra and Andujar to repopulate the village. The people from Andujar, a town in Jaen, brought with them their faith in the Virgin de la Cabeza. The parish church of Nuestra Senora del Rosario y San leon Magno was then built.
Pillaged by French troops in 1840, at the end of the first Carlist war, Canillas de Aceituno lost part of its’ religious treasure. Then from 1865 to 1878, the vineyards fell victim to phylloxera. Cholera and famine ensued.
On 25th December 1884, an earthquake whose epicentre was in Arenas del Rey, Granada took several lives and hundreds of buildings. A few weeks after the disaster, King Alfonso XII visited the village.
During the Spanish Civil War, Canillas de Aceituno was within the Republican zone, later occupied by Spanish and Italian fascist troops. From 1939 to 1955, it witnessed the action of anti-Franco resistance groups (maquis), operating in Sierra Tejeda.
In the 1960s, the town was decimated by migration, but its’centuries-old customs and traditions remained unchanged, many of which are still celebrated today.