What to do in Pizarra
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Pizarra is a small town in the inner, mountainous regions of the Guadalhorce Valley in the Spanish province of Malaga. It's about 32 km from Malaga, the provincial capital. If you take the Autovia del Guadalhorce (A-357) from Malaga, you'll reach the streets of Pizarra in about 35 minutes.
The Rio Guadalhorce meets the northern part of town, flows through its western side, and departs through the south. It was the only source of water for the earliest settlers in the region: the Romans. Phoenicians may have settled here as well, but there aren't as many significant traces of their existence here as there are in the neighboring towns.
Despite being located far inland, many of the areas here have been cultivated. In the not-so-distant surrounding countryside, you can easily find irrigated plantations/orchards of olives, grains, citrus and other fruit trees; evidence that the people here rely mainly on agriculture for their livelihood.
The most popular local dish is perhaps the "sopa aplasta", a simple but tasty soup composed of bread, tomatoes, and pepper. Other local dishes, which are also common in the other towns of Malaga, are tortillas de patatas, gazpacho, empanadillas, rosquillas, and pan de higo.
There are a few hotels in the area or even in the nearby towns but there are lots of bread and breakfasts and holiday villa rentals and apartments where you can stay throughout your entire visit. Restaurants as well as pubs and bars are available for your dining needs and night outings.
For your grocery and other shopping needs, the local hipermercados and small shops have ample supply of everything that you need, e.g. meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, etc.
When you're in town, we encourage you to find time to drop by the Municipal Museum, where you can view a vast collection of Moorish and Roman archaeological artifacts.
If you're a interested in the local culture, the best time to drop by would be during any of the annual fiestas. Among them are the feast of the Virgen de la Fuensanta (in honor of the town's patron saint) in August, the Flamenco Song Festival also in August, and the Semana Santa or Holy Week, to name a few.
History of Pizarra
If the archaeological finds of the surrounding towns of Pizarra are any indication, this town's origins can be traced way back to prehistoric times. Let's now visit its monuments and archaeological secrets as we try to piece together what we can of Pizarra history.
There is reason to believe that Pizarra's first settlers came as early as during prehistoric times. In the place called Castillejo de Luna, a necropolis made up of ten tombs was discovered. Initial studies have shown that the tombs may have been here already since the Bronze Age.
This find is actually consistent with other archaeological finds in some of the neighboring caves in Malaga, wherein remains of prehistoric people were also found.
In other towns within the province, the first formal settlers were the Phoenicians. Interestingly, there aren't any significant traces of their presence here. What can be found though are indications of Roman settlers, who, in the other towns, came after the former. A bath site similar to the public baths in Roman villages was discovered in a place known as the "Bañaero" de la Reina.
After the Romans, came the Moors. While there are remnants of Arabic structures here, they're also not as evident as those in the other towns. Either the Catholic Monarchs were extremely thorough in obliterating them or the Moorish settlement here was really very insignificant, because all that remains is the ruins of a tower in Sierra de Gibralmora.
When the Catholic Monarchs who retook the towns of Malaga during the Reconquista moved into Pizarra, they constructed religious buildings like the precursors of today's Ermita de la Fuensanta (in the 16th Century) and the Iglesia de San Pedro Apóstol (late 15th Century).
The 18th Century saw frequent disputes between the residents of Alora and Pizarra over territorial boundaries. In most cases, the two sides couldn't agree on where the border should be drawn to indicate where their cattles could be allowed to graze or where their crops could be planted.
These disputes led to numerous litigations which reached up to the Supreme Court. It is there that, in 1847, the final decision was handed down in favor of the Pizarra folk, allowing them to proceed with their own municipality.
Perhaps one of the most important construction that had a significant impact on the economy and population growth of the town occurred in the 1800's - the construction of the bridges over the Rio Guadalhorce. The first one was completed and inaugurated in 1863.
Monuments and Museums in Pizarra
Pizarra is an old Mediterranean town whose roots date back to the glorious days of the Roman Empire. While not much has been dug up here from that era, there are a few archaeological finds that link this town to that ancient past. On the other hand, the Pizarra monuments and museums that still stand prominently come from the years that immediately followed the Reconquista.
The Reconquista refers to that long period wherein kingdoms from all of Iberia fought to recapture their lands from the Moors. Each time they recaptured a town, they would raze every remaining Arabian structure and build their own. Most of the structures they built were religious in nature. Here is one that has remained standing in Pizarra all these years:
Ermita de la Fuensanta
This hermitage is dedicated to the Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta, the patron saint of Pizarra. Built in the 16th Century, this hermitage went through a major restoration in the early 18th Century.
Another major restoration was carried out in the early 20th Century, which resulted in the Gothic-style architecture that currently makes up the building's facade. Inside its walls you'll find a single nave leading to the image of the Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta.
Other monuments from those times include the following: the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, the Palacio de los Condes, Convento de las Hermanas, Iglesia de San Pedro Apostol, and the Puento Sobre el Guadalhorce.
There is reason to believe that the town and its environs still hold some secrets that have yet to be discovered. Other places here that haven't been thoroughly studied but may also have important historical value are the following:
Hill of Quintana Castillejos
This place is believed to have been once a defensive stronghold of the Moors. A few Roman artifacts have also been found here.
Remnants of an Arab Tower
The base (or what remains of it) of a tower can be found in the Sierra de Gibralmora.
El "Bañaero" de la Reina
At the top of the Arroyo de la Ahumada is a place believed to to have been a bathing site of the Romans.
Castillejos de Luna
In this area you'll find a necropolis made up of ten cist tombs. The interesting part? They're believed to date back to the Bronze Age - that's already prehistorical times.
Activities in Pizarra
There's never a dull moment in Pizarra. What we have below are some of the events where you'll be able to witness the locals' unique brand of Pizarra activities.
The people of Pizarra love sports. Their favorite sporting events are futbol (soccer), tennis, paddle, volleyball, and swimming. Futbol, which is by far the best-loved sporting event of all in these parts, is played in at least four variations:
Futbol - this is the game of soccer that many aficionados all over the world go crazy about especially during the World Cup.
Futbol Sala or Futsal - Also known as "indoor football since it is normally played indoors, inside a much limited surface.
Futbol Femenino - This is the same soccer you know, only that it is played by women. It is only in Latin American and Spain where soccer competitions participated in by women are popular.
Futbol Veteranos - In Spain, no one is ever too old to play soccer. That's why they also have a veteran version of their favorite game.
Pizarra's most important annual event is the fiesta honoring the town's patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta. The first day of celebrations is greeted by the tolling of church bells and fireworks, which also marks the opening of the Real Feria de Pizarra or the Royal Pizarra Fair.
The celebrations, which start on August 14 and end on August 18, are typically made up of musical performances, sangria tasting, awarding of the fair's poster of the year, dances, sporting events, selection of the event's Queen, and of course the main event, among many others.
During the main event, the image of the Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta is brought down from the Ermita, borne on the shoulders of the faithful in a procession, and transferred to the parish church. Basically, the image is passed on from one group of bearers to another each time "Stop!" is cried.
Other activities typically held within the duration of this 4-day celebration are the following: exhibition of horses and riders, paella tasting, a cattle fair, and concerts
To encourage the preservation and enhancement of local culture, the Department of Trade and Tourism partnered with the Pizarra's Tourist Board in coming up with CINEMA, a short video competition that features three categories: Spot Advertising, Documentary, and Short Fiction.
Restaurants and Bars in Pizarra
Restaurants in Pizarra
Time can pass by so quickly as you explore the beatiful streets of Pizzara or its surrounding countryside, that you'll be walking in an empty stomach in no time. For your gastronomical cravings, here are some Pizarra restaurants you can find right in the heart of town.
-El Bodegon de Rafi - Near the southwestern edge of Pizarra, along Calle de Damaso Alonso, is this unassuming restaurant that serves really great food. They specialize in traditional Spanish cuisine and serve grilled dishes. Their collection of wine is excellent as well.
-Don Joaquin Asador - In the northern part of town, near Hostel Villega, along Carretera de Málaga-Alora, Km 5, there's this restaurant specializing in grilled dishes. They've got mouth-watering tapas and large servings, so come in on an empty stomach.
-Factoria de Capri - If you crave for pizza and other Italian dishes, then proceed to Camino Ancho de la Estacion where you'll find this pizza parlor near El Parador Inn.
-Entrevalles - Another place to dine in the northern part of town, this establishment specializes in fine Mediterranean cuisine. You can find Entrevalles along c/ Derechos Humanos near the Parque Industrial Pizarra.
-Meson Postigo - A block away from Coviran, the hipermercado, along Calle de la Estacion, is this cozy place that also serves local dishes.
If your outdoor excursions brought you further north, then in all likelihood, you'd already be near Alora. Some of the restaurants we recommend you check out there are Restaurante Casa Abilio, Casa de Correos Tapas Bar and Resaurant, Candela Restaurante, Restaurante Los Caballos, and Restaurante La Casa Del Abuelo.
Aside from their delicious tapas, you can fill your stomachs with tortillas, paellas, or zarzuela. Wash them down with local Malaga wine or cold gazpacho soup. The dishes in these regions are usually prepared with olive oil, which the locals produce locally. Most Pizarra restaurants normally serve local cuisine. So if prefer food that your stomach is already used to, you'd be better off driving back to Malaga, where you can find more establishments specializing in other international dishes.
Bars in Pizarra
Despite its size and its distance from the provincial capital, there are still a good number of Pizarra pubs and bars. So after a long day, don't go straight to bed. Drive around town to discover where the excitement is.
When you find a bar, don't stay long (Unless you're planning to be in town for more than a few days). Instead, sample a few drinks, enjoy the entertainment for no more than an hour, then move on. Yes, I'm talking about bar-hopping.
Bar-hopping is ideal if you'll only be in town for a couple of nights. That way, you can check out a good number of establishments in just one night. Ready? Here are a few pubs and bars to start with.
Right in the heart of town, along Calle Lealted, you'll find Tabarrito. You can start here. Have a few drinks then proceed to Bar Milord along Calle de las Autonomias. That's about a block away, southward.
Next, head south again, along Avenida de la Constitucion. There you'll find Disco-Pub Junco. If you like to dance, then you may want to stay a little bit longer here before you either wrap up your night or move on to other bars.
Other places you might want to check out: Bar Tape Chilla, El Titi, Bar Hunters, and Roma. Aside from the usual alcoholic beverages, many of these establishments serve a wide variety of appetizers/snacks known as tapas.
Some of these tapas go well with gin, rhum, wine, or whisky, but we like them best with ice cold beer. See if they have shrimp fritters, spiced clams, stuffed tomato tapas, spicy sausage and cheese tortilla, gildas, prawn croquetas, empanadas, or boquerones en escabeche. These are our personal favourites.
If, for some reason, none of the Pizarra pubs and bars we recommended suit your tastes, you can always drive north to Alora where you can find more establishments that can quench your alcoholic thirsts. Malaga, the provincial capital is still over 30 km away, so we don't recommend you consider driving there an option ... unless of course you decide to spend the night there instead.
There aren't many Pizarra hotels to be found. However, the rural hinterlands of Pizarra boast of fantastic holiday villa rentals, apartments and B&Bs. Here are some of the establishments we consider worth your time.
-Casa Domingo - Situated near Alora, this comfortable B&B is just 5 minutes by car from Pizarra. Here you'll find an expansive outdoor pool set amidst a scenic backdrop. The rooms are spacious enough, with some of them having a private terrace equipped with comfy tables and chairs. The interior is a perfect combination of modern and rustic themes.
The owners are experienced outdoorsmen, and they can point you to the best scenic spots in the region, including lake el Gaitanejo, Sierra de las Nieves, and the castle of Turon.
If you're looking for a really secluded, romantic place, then we highly recommend Hotel Romantico Posada los Cantaros, a restored 19th century farmhouse. It's in Sierra de Gibralgalia, some 10 km southwest of Pizarra. That means, you would need a car to get there.
Perched on a hill and overlooking the scenic countryside, this beautiful place has a stunning rustic-themed interior with an artistic attention to detail. The stone walls, wood paneled ceilings, handmade terracotta floors, and all the intricate details combine for a relaxing rural experience not many can match.
-Complejo Rural Finca El Realejo - Located along Carretera de Pizarra a Casarabonela, this is one of the most luxurious apartments in the area. This place is situated right within the Guadalhorce valley, so there's lots of opportunities for outdoor activities like horseback riding, mountain biking, and more.
On the outside, it features an outdoor pool, a sprawling garden, a gazebo with a fantastic view, and a fountain. Inside your apartment, you'll find a fireplace, TV, a kitchen with all the basic applicances, a bathroom, a comfortable bedroom, and a tiny sala.
Other establishments worth checking out are El Parador near the intersection of Calle del Camino Estrecho and Calle del Porvenir, Adrian along Calle de Don Francisco Bravo, San Miguel along Calle de Cartama, and Hostal Villega also along Calle de Don Francisco Bravo.
Shopping in Pizarra
In the not-so-distant past, many shops in Pizarra offered very poor customer service. For instance, they closed during Saturdays, did not accept credit cards, did not offer home delivery, had very limited selection of goods, etc. This used to force potential buyers to travel all the way to Malaga just to shop.
When hipermercados started pouring into the small towns of Malaga, they introduced many services that naturally attracted customers. As a result, the local businesses were threatened.
To protect the interests of their local businessmen, Pizarra established the Centro Comercial Abierto (CCA), wherein the main commercial streets, their fixtures, and facilities, were upgraded to encourage buyers to shop in that district. The CCA encompasses the following streets: Malaga, Real, Coronados, Puerta de la Guardia, San Pedro, Union, Nueva Lealtad, Independencia, and Carretas.
Today, when you go shopping in stores located within the CCA, you'll have an entirely new and better shopping experience. However, despite the presence of the CCA, a good number of supermarkets still decided to build outlets here.
Some of the hipermercados that have found their way into Pizarra are: Coviran along Avenida de la Constitucion, Dia along Ingeniero Pablo Esteban, Reyes along Calle del Real, and Servi Ahorro also along Avenida de la Constitucion. All of them have a wide selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, grocery products, toiletries, and others.
Other stores that can be found in town are: Farmacia de la Plaza, where you can buy your medicines and vitamins; Campanillas Pizarra, where you can get fresh meat; Narvaez for fabrics; Heladeria Kiwi for ice cream; D&N for medicinal herbs; El Molinero for baked products; and Ceramica Arte - Sana for your souvenirs.
The city administrators of Pizarra continue to innovate to provide improved services to shoppers, which in turn result in better business opportunities for the locals.
Just recently opened is Pizarra's Organic Market, one of the town's response to the call for healthy living and saving the environment. Every last Sunday of the month, farmers will bring fresh goods to the Market, which is conveniently located at the central Plaza de la Cultura.