AREA: 6550 km² ALTITUDE ABOVE SEA LEVEL: 694 metres AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 765 l/m²
AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE: 165 ºC POPULATION CENSUS 1994: 3.202
HISTORY AND LANDSCAPE
The municipal region of Colmenar is a frontier between the natural regions of the Axarquía and the Montes de Málaga, and at the same time a transition area between the limestone landscapes of the Cordillera Antequerana and the slaty landscape of the Montes de Málaga. The former cover the extreme north of the municipality marked by the ecsarpment of the rocky places which predominate over the vegetation, while the latter, although also abrupt, with their somewhat smoother forms have allowed a certain humanization to the landscape, alternating areas of olives with the scrubland and some very isolated circles of forest type trees.
Between these two views, a third intervenes, called the Corredor de Colmenar, in which the smoothest relief in the municipality not only allows the presence of olive groves but also of important expanses of cereals. The town of Colmenar rises on the southern border of this corridor. Its geographical situation in this natural pass has facilitated the communications between the High Axarquía, the Mountains and the Guadalhorce Valley since ancient times.
The remains found in the Pulseras cave give credit to mans presence during the neolithic period in the lands which today form the municipal region. This presence continues up to the Metal Ages according to the testimonies found to the north of the town centre, near the Zorreras brook in the Cortijo de Gonzalo.
There are no testimonies of the Roman era, but given the importance of the findings in the nearby Auta (Riogordo) estate, its not surprising that some village or settlement existed in the area. At least it seems to show that, by the Roman Coins and ceramics found in the Cortijo de Moriscos and in the hills of the guest house on road C-345, a kilometre away from the town. There are also some testimonies of the Arabic era, such as the slate mould for melting the Muslim medals, found in the Guájaras estate. Scattered ceramics have also been found here.
But the municipalitys history really begins with the taking of Vélez in 1487. That was when the mayor of Comares ,nominated by the Catholic kings, bought the Colmenar farmhouse in 1488. In 1558 there is mention of the Colmenar estate in the documents. The first viscount of Colmenar (Juan Fernández de Córdoba y Córdoba de Coalla) appears in 1611. From then on there are a succession of disputes for the property of the Colmenar estate until it achieves its independence in 1777. At the beginning of the 19th century it was the head of the administrative area of most of the towns of the Axarquía (Alfarnate, Alfarnatejo, Almachar, El Borge, Cútar, Periana and Riogordo) and even of the town of Casabermeja in the Montes de Málaga.
Places to Visit
The old part of Colmenar conserves its original Arabic outline of tangled and narrow streets, of low whitewashed houses, with two storeys and back patio, used often in the summer and spring.
The parish church of the Asunción is the most representative monument, and as in so many other towns in Málaga, was started in the 16th century and finished in the next. This temple has three naves separated by arches and inside has a niche at the right side with rich baroque decoration charged with garlands, ovals and other elements appropriate to this 18th century style. Outside is the three bodied bell tower, the last body with archway spaces for the bells.
The other monument, also situated on the hill, is the chapel of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria, patron saint of the town. It is a 17th century church which later suffered many reformations. Outside is the large arched front, framed with pilasters and crowned with a three gapped belfry.
Places of archaeological interest outside the town are the various caves, among them the Chivos, Pulsera, the Caravaca mine and the previously mentioned estates. Places of scenic and ecological interest are the Camarolos and Jobo sierras..
The handicrafts are based on saddlery, an inheritance from its geographical situation as an obligatory passway from the interior of the coast. There are also other handicrafts such as esparto grass weaving for making rugs, matting and baskets.
The culinary peculiarities of Colmenar are kid in sauce, kid or calf with garlic, sausages, loin and spicy sausage from the mountains, the 'mountain dish' consists of loin, chorizo, potatoes, peppers and fried egg. In the winter they have tripe, stews in various forms. In the summer, cold soup. The rich pastrymaking consists of sticky buns, quince jelly, homemade fairy cakes, wine rusks, egg rusks, and the lands own wine.
FESTIVITIES AND TRADITIONS
Two celebrations take place on the 3rd of May: the crosses and the "pipa" or beans as they are mature at this time of the year, and other towns eat them with the baking day of San Marcos (25th of April). Between the 11th and 15th of August, the fair is organized and on the 2nd of February is the patron saint's festivity dedicated to the Virgen de la Candelaria with a procession through the towns streets up to the chapel. The Easter processions have a certain prominence, especially with the Virgen de los Dolores. On the 24th of June they celebrate the verbena (songs and dancing) of San Juan with the traditional bonfires where they burn the "juas" (manikins). And finally, at Christmas are the carols and the assembly of nativity scenes.