AREA: 40,60 km² ALTITUDE ABOVE SEA LEVEL: 400 metres AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 575 l/m²
AVERAGE ANNUAL TEMPERATURE: 162 ºC POPULATION CENSUS 1994: 2.665
HISTORY AND LANDSCAPE
The Riogordo landscape, the same as Colmenar, agglutinates three different spaces: to the north, the territory presents a mountainous border of great abruptness in the walls of the Sierra del Rey and in the impressive clefts of the Alto de Gomer. Among both reliefs is the Cueva rio waterway, which descends from the Alfarnatejo plain, giving way to a small valley, which arhaeologists have called the Auta valley, for the important site found in the estate with the same name. The contrast between the sierras walls and the smooth relief of the terrain occupied by cereals and pastures which extend to their feet give way to a landscape of great beauty.
To the south of the Auta estate the relief is more moved and the hills begin to appear, covered in olives, extending alone or mixed with cereals up to the Riogordo town to unroll by the east of the municipality through the Sacristia hills. To the south of the town the relief returns to abruptness and the olive groves, which continue to be the outstanding feature of the vegetive blanket, appear scattered with farm houses which add a characteristic element to the mountainous landscape.
Riogordo, the same as with Colmenar, is favoured for its strategic situation in the area of the natural corridor which separates the Antequera range from the Malaga mountains. Here there is also a new element: to this large corridor there is a smaller one added, although also significant, which opens up to the Cueva river until it flows out into the Benamargosa river, thus facilitating the communications between the high and low Axarquía.
All these factor are undoubtably going to influence Riogordos history. As a matter of fact, it seems that the first influence of the environment will be noticed in the towns actual name. The heavy waters of the Cueva river due to the dragging of minerals, gave it the name of Riogordo (fat river) or Gold river and the town was named after it. It could also have been the river which influenced the presence of the first settlers, who left their mark during the neolithic era in the Tajos de Gomer and during the Bronze Age in the Cerro Capellanía.
But no doubt, the oldest historical vestiges go back to the Phoenician era, which left its tombs at the foot of the Sierra del Rey, near the Auta estate. Near this estate there have been findings of the remains of Roman villas with rich mosaics belonging to the 3rd century which were moved to the county council offices.
The Muslims installed themselves quite early on in the area, building a fort in Auta. Later it seems that their influence was made felt in the urban outline of the present town.
Once the town had been conquered, it was known as Aprisco de Majianza, and in 1487 it was subjected to distributions under the protection of Comares. At the beginning of the 16th century it is known as Village of Riogordo and an era of great proseperity begins as a livestock ground. In the 18th century, the planting of vines and the breaking of new grounds favours a strong demographic growth, which is truncated by the Phyloxera plague at the end of the 19th century. On the other hand, the effects of the earthquake which hit Periana was not felt with the same intensity here as in the neighbouring municipality.
Places to visit
The castle of Aute, attributed to the Phoenicians, is in a ruined state. One of the odd characteristics of the town are the niches, placed on the top of the houses, in which crucified Christs, the Virgin of Grace who is the patron saint of the town, madonnas and saints predominate. Some of them date from the 16th century.
Although it is not very outstanding on the exterior, the chapel of Jesus of Nazareth presents an interesting niche from the 18th century and in the church of Our Lady of the Grace, built in the 16th century, also has an outstanding niche and a square tower, which is crowned with a four sided sloped roof.
Archaeological remains have been found in the so called Valle de Auta and the Llano del Rey.
The town centre is very uneven and has few open spaces. It is divided into a high part - el Cerrillo - and a low part - la Plaza. The farm houses tend to have wells and a barn to keep the harvested crop
There is a tradition in skin and leather work, in esparto grass weaving, saddlery, and forging. There are also various oil mills.
Gastronomically, Riogordo specializes in its particular gazpacho cold summer soup, ajoblanco, pimenton and porra campesina.
They have typical dishes such as snails in sauce, la olla the stew pot, and mushrooms.
Regarding desserts, they make tortas de aceite oil cakes, mantecados lardy cakes and hornazos buns with an egg inside.
Festivities and traditions
On the 15th of May they pay tribute to the Virgin of Grace and from the 15th to the 18th of August are the main festivities of the municipality for San Jacinto, both patron saints of the town.
At Easter they stage play the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, which they call El Paso, and in which almost 400 neighbours are momentarily turned into actors in a tradition which dates from immemorial times. The representations take place on Good Friday and Easter Saturday on a natural stage especially conditioned for this.
Lastly, there is the celebration, at the beginning of September, of the lamp fair, in which fire plays an important part, and the cattle fair is at the end of May.