AREA : 103 km² ALTITUDE ABOVE SEA LEVEL : 194 metres AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL : 580 l/m²
AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE : 166 ºC POPULATION, CENSUS 1994 : 13,248
HISTORY AND LANDSCAPE
The town of Alora crowns a small hill over the Guadalhorce river. The castle's towers, once vigil to the comings and goings of men and inland merchandise, in the Bobastro domains, outstand over the city, which shelters discretely between two small headlands and the powerful Hacho mountain (559 m.). The municipality extends over an ample territory in which there are the great formations of the Málaga relief. To the north of the Arco Calizo Central (the Antequera range), there is a spectacular landscape of the Sierra de Huma (1,191 m.) and the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (shared with the neighbouring municipalities of Antequera and Ardales). To the west of the Sierra de Aguas (949 m.) the lands extend to the mountain complex of Serrania de Ronda, with a landscape of pine groves which goes from the Guadalhorce river to the road which joins Alora with Carratraca.
To the east of the Guadalhorce, the landscape has smooth forms with small hills covered with cereals, some olive trees and remains of the old holm-oak grove; it is the landscape of the natural corridor which crosses the province from Periana to Alora and separates the Antequera range from the Malaga mountains. These mountains also reach Alora in the western half of the territory, with its characteristic maze of hills, mainly covered in olives, almonds, and thickets.
Alora is also included in the Guadalhorce valley, with peaceful sceneries of great beauty with fruit orchards, vegetables and orange trees which coat the bottom of the valley in green.
Aloras history goes back to prehistory in the Hoyo del Conde (Counts plain), just over a kilometre from the city. The ecological environment (hunting, water, natural protection) favoured this presence until the Turdetans from Tartessos and the Phoenicians discovered the great commercial possibilities of the area. The Phoenicians made the castles foundations which the Romans later took advantage of, fortifying them.
The Romans left important marks on this land, from the milestone which showed the Roman road and on which the following inscription is written; Municipium Iluritanum (79 B.C.), to the diverse remains which prove that Alora was a Roman town with Latin rights, with the name of Iluro. From the then prosperous Alora, came governors and militaries who gave glory to the Empire, relief families who left their mark in Rome.
During the visigode era, the fort's nucleus must have been built, which later would be renovated and amplified by the Arabs, who on entering the peninsula would soon arrive at Alora. The rebellion of Omar Ben Hafsun took place in this era, and due to its nearness to Bobastro, must have affected these lands in an important way.
During all the Middle Ages, the christian royalty tried to overtake the village of Alora, which resisted their attacks over and over again.
In one of these attacks, the governor of Andalusia, Don Diego de Rivera was killed at the foot of the walls in 1434. This was a tragic piece of news which was spread by the Romancero (collection of ballads) with the well known Romance of Alora which has been reproduced in its entirety on a plaque of the Castle. The square fell in to the hands of the Catholic king's troops in 1484.
In the 16th and 17th century, Alora was given a favoured prosperity due to the presence of numerous distinguished people who came to live or visit. In 1628, Alora was segregated from the municipality of Malaga "for ever" in a deed signed by Felipe IV.
Places to Visit
Leaving the new constructions to one side, the town keeps its typically Andalusian form, with very representative houses of popular architecture and significant samples of the economic drive it has enjoyed and still has. The urban nucleus extends over one side of the mountain over which the Castle rises, being the symbol of Alora. The castle was probably built in the visigode era and amplified by the Arabs and all that remains are two towers and a horseshoe archway, which is pointed and open in the wall.
There is a parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, a temple which took a century to build (1600-1699) and was built on top of a mosque which existed in the Castle. Large and with robust masonry, the temple consists of three naves, separated by large toscan columns covered by wooden armour. Another interesting building is the chapel of Veracruz, a small 16th century construction, erected to conmemorate the victory over the Moorish rebels. At two kilometres from the town centre, on a high, from which there are splendid panoramas of the Guadalhorce valley, is the convent of Our Lady of the Flowers, built in the 16th century and restored in the 18th century.
Other places of archaeological interest are : Arroyo Hondo (deep brook), from the Iberian era ; the village and thermae of Canca, from the Roman era ; the necropolis of Carril de los Muertos (lane of the dead), and the village of Tesorillo (little treasure), both also Roman.
From a scenic point of view and even archaeological is the Chorro area, the Hacho and the Sierra de las Aguas.
Although it doesnt appear in the provincial handicrafts guide, in Alora there are specialists in forge, basketry, saddlery and castanets.
There are many dishes which derive from the rich fruit and vegetable cultivation of the valley's lands, but among the best known are the "perotas" soups, usually accompanied by fruit. Other creations are 'bolos', 'majillo de espárragos', a kind of 'gazpacho' they call pimenton, and 'calabacete'. For dessert, there are yam patties, baked rusks, hazelnut icecream, and home-made 'horchata' a drink made from tiger nuts.
FESTIVITIES AND TRADITIONS
Among all the festivities and celebrations, there is Easter. On Good Friday, a ceremony takes place called "la Despedida" (The goodbye), in which the images of the Dolorosa and Jesus of Nazareth greet each other by means of the manouvers of their respective thrones and carriers. The patron saint's festivities in honour of Saint Paulino, are celebrated at the beginning of August, with a cattle fair and numerous popular acts. In July there is a flamenco singing festival and the next sunday after the 8th of May, is the pilgrimage to the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Flores. Among the local folklore are the fandango of alora, the local dances which are never amiss in family celebrations, and songs to the plough, threshing and swinging. Alora is considered to be the cradle of Malaga.