AREA: 21 km² ALTITUDE ABOVE SEA LEVEL: 541 metres AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 450 l/m²
AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE: 16 ºC POPULATION CENSUS 1994: 827
History and Landscape
Carratraca, situated between the most northwestern foothills of the Ronda highland (sierras of Alcaparaín, Baños and Aguas), is also one of the northern doorways of the Guadalhorce valley and frontier territory between these two regions and the Antequera region which connects with Ardales. Its landscape consists of abrupt hillsides in the sierra de Alcaparaín and becomes smoother in the Baños and Aguas sierras, covered in pines and low land and the occasional olive grove where the relief permits. In the bottom of the valley which covers the municipal district from north to south, and through which the Cañas brook runs, the countryside consists of plots by the brook sides and cereal crops and olive groves between these and the beginning of the sierras. In the town centre of Carratraca there is the outstanding and powerful architectural complex formed by the house of Doña Trinidad Grund, converted into the town hall, and the tower next to the house. There are beautiful panoramas of the surroundings from the terraces of this complex.
The strategic situation of these lands, between two towns of rich history, as are Alora and Ardales, must have favoured mans presence since old. Near the Pinos brook, in the Alcaparaín sierra and in a chasm 40 metres deep, an internment from between the Stone and Bronze ages has been located, as well as cruciform schematic paintings and ceramics with incise decoration.
The curative properties of the sulphuric springs in Carratraca captured the attention of the Romans, who left copper and silver coins with effigies of Tiberio, Claudio, and Caesar in the site known as La Glorieta, and a late-Roman necropolis in Los Maderos, near the Cañas brook.
The primitive nucleus of Carratraca seems to originate in the Arab era, although the present town was formed in the 19th century from the expansion of an estate called Aguas Hediondas which had a spa, and from a chapel built in the 18th century which awakened visitors devotions. According to the chronicles, this chapel was erected by a certain Juan "Camison", who was cured from a bad skin complaint when he bathed in the smelly waters of Carratraca, and collected money all over the region to build the chapel and dedicated it to Nuestra Señora de la Salud.
Places to Visit
The parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Salud is one of the buildings with architectural interest although it dates from the beginning of the 19th century. It was built on the site of an old chapel, and inside, consists of three naves, separated by arches with wooden armour and semi-espheric vault covering the presbytery and the alcove which holds the image of the Virgen de la Salud. The town hall building is also interesting for its Neo-Arabic style which has two superimposed galleries with horse-shoe arches. A most singular construction is the small bullfighting ring with poligonal base, excavated in the Sierra Blanquilla rock. This is where the inhabitants of the town, stage play the Passion at Easter.
The sulphuric water spa is also worth mentioning. The enclave arose around the fountains of an 18th century chapel in the municipal district of Casarabonela, from which it separated in 1821.
Twentysix years later, the spa was created in an appropriate neo-classic style, suitable to the Golden Age of this type of establishment in the mid 19th century. Inside the building which holds the spa - a stone house with neo-classical front whose project was sanctioned by the Real Academia de San Fernando - there is the interior courtyard with ceramic plinth and pavilion surrounded by white marbled columns.
Other places of interest outside the town of Carratraca are the Duende caves and the Alcaparaín shelter, as well as the Gorda and Murciélago (necropolis) chasms.
Objects and utensils made with esparto grass, wooden engravings and iron forging.
The authoctonous dishes are tripe, and pastoral kid. The confectionery consists of their famous almond cakes, as in the neighbouring Ardales, and also rusks, sponge cakes, and oil cakes.
Festivities and traditions
Among the most singular festivities is the staging of the Passion at Easter, in which over a hundred neighbours made into actore are involved. The Corpus Christi procession and the adornment of the streets and houses with flowers, mantillas and artistic objects is also an old tradition, as is the San Juan night in the early hours of the 24th of June.
The patron saint's festivities dedicated to the Virgen de la Salud, take place between the 13th and 15th of August.