One of Andalucia’s best kept secrets is the beautiful Axarquía – a region known for its rural splendour. It’s an area steeped in agricultural tradition, with fields of regimentally straight olive trees, sweet smelling citrus groves and, hanging onto vertiginous mountainsides, vineyards filled with muscatel grapes used to produce that favourite souvenir for many visitors, the sweet, rich Malaga wine.
Just a 40-minute drive along the coastal A7 road from Club La Costa World resort, on the most southerly reaches of the Axarquía, you will find the regional town of Velez-Malaga. It’s well worth a few hours of your holiday time to visit this lovely, typically Spanish town, surrounded by well preserved medieval city walls and with its main focal point being the recently restored 13th century Moorish castle, from where there are wonderful panoramic views of the beautiful Axarquía countryside.
Known by the locals as the ‘Arrabal de San Sebastián’, the oldest part of the town is full of atmosphere and just begs to be explored. In the maze of narrow streets, you will find an assortment of wonderfully evocative Gothic and Mudejar-style churches, marvellous 16th and 17th century palacios and mansions and quiet, shady squares with enchanting little cafés offering tempting local tapas and vinos. As an alternative to the crowded beaches and tourist attractions of the main stretch of the Costa del Sol, this is an authentic slice of Andalucia and a real holiday day out with a difference.
For something a bit more lively, visit Velez-Malaga between 22-26 July, and join the locals as they immerse themselves in the annual festival – or fiesta – celebrating the town’s two patron saints, Santiago and Santa Ana. Every day during the fiesta, beginning at around mid-day (remember, in Spain that usually means ‘not before’), the day’s activities start to play out near the main promenade – there’ no beach and not a grain of sand in sight! – and later the party carries on long into the early hours at the ‘recinto ferial’, with enough loud music, flashing lights, dancing, eating, drinking and fairground rides to keep everyone thrilled and entertained all night long.
The fiesta programme also includes events, games, concerts and competitions and, on St Anne’s Day – 26th July – in nearby Torre del Mar, the locals dress the streets in readiness for a hugely ornate land and sea procession, which makes for some great holiday photos. Once again, and in undeniably Spanish style, there is plenty of merrymaking, with yet more dancing and singing, eating and drinking into the early hours.
It’s an event that’s truly well worth a visit on your holidays – so much so that the regional government has awarded the festival a ‘Declaración de Interés Turístico National de Andalucia’, which certifies that it is indeed something that tourists can enjoy and faithfully represents Andalucian culture, history and gastronomy.
A holiday at Club La Costa World on the Costa del Sol offers so much more than just sun, sea and sangria – so why not go and see for yourself in Velez-Malaga?