What to do in Velez Malaga
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Ever since the earliest settlers set foot in this region, Velez-Malaga became an important market place. Today, despite the flourishing tourism industry in the region, Velez-Malaga is still primarily known as a market city.
The town of Velez-Malaga, which is located some 4 km inland from the bustling beaches of Torre del Mar, is the capital of the Axarquia region and is also the name of the municipality.
Like the rest of the region, this town was once under Moorish rule. However, traces of the Arabian settlers were erased after the Christians defeated them in the late 1400s. Only a few remnants of Muslim culture remain. Most of them are only well-preserved in small mountain villages like Frigiliana because the Christians made sure the densely populated areas like Velez-Malaga only exhibited Christian influence.
Tourism is the cash cow of the region and all towns benefit from it one way or another. For instance, although Axaquia's capital is located inland, many visitors - whose interests are mainly in the coastal districts - still find their way here. In fact, the hotels in town are still enjoying a lucrative business.
Those who opt to stay there because their business dealings are mainly in the market city can still easily go to the neighboring beaches of Torre del Mar, Almayate, Benajarafe, Mezquitilla, and El Morche when they want to.
Other establishments like restaurants, bars and pubs are also thriving well. There are various shops offering a variety of goods throughout Velez-Malaga, but if you want a shopping experience you'll never forget, we recommend you take part in the Thursday market.
Aside from it being a market city, Velez-Malaga also has some interesting tourist attractions like the Palace of El Marques de Beniel, Church of Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion, La Casa Cervantes (home of the famous playwright, Miguel de Cervantes de Saavedra), Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, and even the remnants of an Arab fort.
Outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and horse riding are among the favorite pastimes. If you want to take part in a more peculiar experience, there's the weekly cockfights, which are held every Sunday.
History of Velez Malaga
Archaeological finds in the vicinity of Velez-Malaga indicate the presence of man since prehistoric times. However, very few details are known about this bit of Velez-Malaga history.
The fact is, many stories about the town's ancient past is a mixture of fact and fiction. We shall therefore start only from the time when formal settlement took place. At least, this part of Velez-Malaga history is known with much certainty.
The oldest known formal settlers in the area were the Phoenicians and Romans. They started arriving at around 800 BC. Discovery of a warehouse filled with Etruscan, Greek, and Phoenician artifacts at the foot of the Toscanos hill as well as other archaeological finds in the surrounding regions that included some smelting ovens, metal slags, burial sites, and a fortress, proved the existence of a relatively large and industrious settlement during those times.
Bult while there was indeed already considerable activity then, it was only upon the arrival of the Moors in the 10th century when the place now known as Velez-Malaga was founded and subsequently, particularly in the 13th to 14th century, experienced a long period of prosperity.
The city's population grew so large under Moorish rule that many were eventually forced to build their homes outside the heavily fortified city walls. The walled-city itself became one of the most important medinas of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. Rural population centres, known as alquerias, sprouted and gave birth to present-day Benajarafe, Benamocarra, Almayate, and others.
Muslim rule ended in 1487 when Ferdinand the Catholic and his troops marched into the territory. The Moors offered very little resistance and many of them were eventually expelled from the region; their properties distributed to Christian colonists. In the 16th-17th century, the Christians focused on transforming the region's architecture through the construction of churches, convents, and other religious buildings.
The most notable event in the 18th century was the Battle of Velez-Malaga, the biggest naval battle during the War of the Spanish Succession, which pitted two large fleets: the French and Spaniards on one side and the English and Dutch on the other. Interestingly, no ship was sunk although both sides suffered large casualties.
In the 19th century, the dreaded Yellow Fever spread throughout the region, claiming about 60% of the entire population.
Today, Velez-Malaga serves as the capital of the Axarquia district.
Monuments and Festivals in Velez Malaga
Monuments and Museums in Velez Malaga
Velez-Malaga, like many other towns in the region, have a rich Moorish past. This is most evident in the small, white mountain villages of Malaga. However, in densely populated centers like Velez-Malaga, the Christians devoted considerable time to eradicate the final remnants of Muslim rule. That is why Velez-Malaga monuments and museums are Christian-dominated.
-Palace of El Marques de Beniel - Once owned by Alonso Molina de Medrano - one of the King's own Counselors - who moved in after the building's completion in 1617, the palace was passed down to Gil Francisco de Molina y Junteron. Gil Francisco was incidentally the first Marques de Beniel, hence the name. Inside its premises, you can find a white marble doorway, an open gallery, coats of arms, Tuscan arches and columns, and an Imperial staircase.
-Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion - This church, just like other buildings in town, was built using Gothic-Muldejar architecture. As mentioned earlier, Muslim structures were demolished and Christian structures were built in their stead. This, in particular, was constructed on top of a mosque.
-La Casa Cervantes - Miguel de Cervantes de Saavedra, a Spanish poet and playwright who wrote the well-known classic "Don Quixote", once lived in this house. The place, which dates back to the 16th century, features a picturesque patio with a small fountain in the center.
-Church of San Juan Bautista - With its magnificent octagonal tower jutting skyward, it would be hard to miss this 16th century church. Housed inside this Gothic-Muldejar styled house of worship are three naves, an elaborately decorated sacristy, a grand mural of the Virgin of the Evangelists in the main altar, and a wooden sculpture of the Christ of the Vigias.
-Remnants of the Arab fort - As mentioned earlier, the Christians tried to destroy all structures that reminded them of the Arab occupants. Very few remained standing. One remnant is the tower of a once majestic Arabian fort. It is found in the upper outskirts of Velez-Malaga and provides a fantastic view of the town.
These well-preserved Velez-Malaga monuments and museums should be part of your itinerary when you visit this part of the Costa del Sol.
Festivals in Velez Malaga
There are many things to watch or do during your visit to Velez-Malaga. Entertainment here comes in various forms. Some are suitable for those who simply wish to observe, while others are ideal for those who really want to participate.
-Visiting tourist spots.- The town is full of tourist spots for visitors who just want to go places and watch the sights. the Camarin de la Virgen de la Piedad, Casa Cervantes, Casa Consistorial, Convento de las Carmelitas, Ermita Virgen de la Cabeza, Fuente de Fernando VI, Hospital de San Juan de Dios, La Alcazaba o Fortaleza, Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, and the Palacio del Marques de Beniel, are some of the places you can visit.
-Taking part in fiestas and carnivals.- If you prefer activities that require a little more participation from your end, you can take part in annual fiestas and carnivals instead. They're usually accompanied with music (both cultural and modern), an abundance of great food, vibrant colors, as well as a lot of singing and dancing.
You'll have to check with your travel agency for the specific dates when these events are to take place. Be forewarned that not all are lively. For instance, celebrations that are held during Semana Santa or Holy Week are mostly very solemn. Don't be surprised to see the locals, especially the older generations, in a mournful mood.
-Participating in outdoor adventures.- Looking for the adventurous kind of fun? When you're at Velez-Malaga or the neighboring towns, you'll never run out of outdoor activities. You can take part in Segway tours, Quad bike tours, horse riding, mountain biking adventures, or classic bike tours. There are also scuba diving adventures in some neighboring cities.
-Chilling out in the Nightlife.- For those who still have lots of energy at night, there are numerous restaurants, bars, and pubs in town or in neighboring Torre del Mar. You can start the night by feasting on seafood at Torre del Mar. Then you can go back to Velez-Malaga for some bar-hopping, great music, cold beverages, or delicious coffee in places like The Old Red Lion, Bar Guerra, Cafe Pub La Lonja, Los Amigos, and Pepe.
Beaches in Velez Malaga
The town of Velez-Malaga itself is situated inland. However, it is just a 10-minute ride away from the coastlines of Torre del Mar, one of the premier tourist spots along the Costa del Sol. More beaches are also found in the other coastal districts of the municipality, called Torre del Mar. Owing to the name of the municipality, they are sometimes collectively known as Velez-Malaga beaches.
What we have below are some of the beaches in Velez Malaga and Torre del Mar to aid you in your future trip to this sunny southern part of Spain.
-Playa de Torre del Mar - Easily the most accessible from the town of Velez-Malaga, this beach can be reached via the Paseo Maritimo de Torre del Mar, a long, scenic promenade fronting the Mediterranean. The bars and restaurants are open from Easter to October.
-Playa Naturista Almanat - This nude beach and its accompanying campsite is found along the coast of Almayate, some 2 km westward from Torre del Mar. It can be reached from Torre del Mar via the N-340. There are lots of amenities in the campsite, including an outdoor pool, heated pool, jacuzzi, beachfront restaurant, cinema, and many more.
-Playa de Banajarafe - If you proceed further west via the N-340, you'll pass through the district of Benajarafe. The beach here is mostly undeveloped but frequented by the locals. Bars and restaurants can also be found nearby.
-Playa de la Victoria - Still further west, right after Benajarafe, is Rincon de la Victoria. Rincon de la Victoria is actually another municipality by itself but we'd like to include this beach here because it is one of the most popular in the province. Besides, it is only about 15 km from Torre del Mar.
-Playa de Caleta de Velez - Let's head east this time. Our first stop is this beach, some 4 km away from Playa de Torre del Mar. Its terrain is a mixture of sand and pebbles.
-Playa de Mezquitilla - If you proceed further east, you'll reach the coast of Mezquitilla. Like the one in Caleta de Velez, its terrain is composed of sand and pebbles.
-Playa del Morche - Found in El Morche, which is next to Mezquitilla if you proceed eastward, Playa del Morche has a wide sandy terrain that could make it the next Playa de la Victoria.
Restaurants and Bars in Velez Malaga
Restaurants in Velez Malaga
The town of Velez-Malaga is primarily a market community, producing superior olive oil and wine. With such products readily available, it is not surprising to find excellent restaurants nearby. Aside from those found in the town of Velez-Malaga, restaurants are also conveniently located in nearby Torre del Mar - just a 10-minute ride away.
Before and after tours to the Fortaleza, the convents, and churches, take time to savor good food and beverages in the these Velez-Malaga restaurants. You'll notice that there's enough variety to satisfy European, Asian, Latin, and American appetites.
In the northern part of town, near the hotels Palacio Blanco and Dila, the restaurants in the vicinity include: La Gamba Dorada , El Indio, The Old Red Lion, Asador Mari, Paris, Rosella, Xin-Xin, Meson El Limonar 9, and Hamburgueseria Pizzeria Los Pakis. They specialize in seafood, pizza, British cuisine, chicken BBQ, Spanish cuisine, pizza, Chinese, meson, and pizza, respectively.
The southern part of town has a relatively lesser number of restaurants. However, since it's also the part of Velez-Malaga that's closest to Torre del Mar, visitors will find an even much wider range of choices there.
Some notable establishments within the southern territorial boundaries of the town are: El Horno (pizza), Telepizza (fastfood), Los Migueles (Spanish cuisine), and Romo (chicken BBQ). If you proceed southward to the edge of town, you'll find Cantina Mariachi, where you can enjoy Mexican food like tacos, burritos, fajitas and more.
You should then be very near Torre del Mar. Being a coastal town in Costa del Sol, Torre del Mar is understandably more frequented by tourists. It is therefore expected that you'll find more dining establishments there. La Cueva, Marisqueria El Yate, Howards Bar, Celebraciones Parque del Rio, Caramba, Salmon, and Fraguas are just a few of the most popular restaurants located in this bustling coastal community.
Finally, if you're not yet sure what kind of dining experience you're looking for, then we recommend you go straight to El Ingenio. It's halfway between Velez-Malaga and Torre del Mar, along Autovia A-7 (or Autovia del Mediterraneo). You can't miss it. Primarily a shopping mall, El Ingenio houses a nice selection of restaurants on its top floor.
Pubs and Bars in Velez Malaga
Some people consider nightlife in the town of Velez-Malaga as more of spillovers from nearby coastal tourist spots. Indeed, Torre del Mar, which is just about 10 minutes south of this town, is where the the action is. However, Velez-Malaga pubs and bars have their own distinctive brand of nighttime entertainment that's worth checking out.
To keep your nights in this part of the Costa del Sol constantly unpredictable and memorable, we've drawn up a nice selection of Velez-Malaga pubs and bars that you can include in your bar-hopping list.
At the top of our list of Velez-Malaga pubs and bars are these three:
-The Old Red Lion - If you want a traditional English pub, head out to Plaza San Francisco, along Calle Poeta Joaquin, near the town market. Here in The Old Red Lion, you can enjoy great beer and other alcoholic beverages over or after a hearty meal.
-Bar Guerra - On the other side of the block, along Calle de San Francisco is a half-a-century-old bar known as Bar Guerra. This Andulasian-themed place is well-known for its fried style tapas, but we also recommend their Andulasian battered cod rinsed down your throat with your choice of alcoholic beverage.
-Cafe Pub La Lonja - A couple of blocks away from either The Old Red Lion or Bar Guerra (no more than a 5-minute ride), you'll find this cozy cafe and pub where you can enjoy excellent steaming coffee or more alcoholic drinks amidst some good music. If you intend to have a long night, engage your companions in Karaoke, Poker Texas, and other games.
After either getting your fill or just getting warmed up with those three, you may proceed to any of the following liquor oases: Alcala, Los Amigos, El Cofrade, Casa Paqui,El Rocio, Pepe, or Cafe Bar Natali.
A night in Torre del Mar is always a great time to get stuffed in seafood fare. To wash the seabass, octopus, monkfish, dorada, or other seafood delicacies down your digestive system, get on a northbound ride and hop into these cool Velez-Malaga pubs and bars to wrap up your sizzling Costa del Sol evening.
Hotels in Velez Malaga
Those who don't frequent the Municipality of Velez-Malaga have this notion that all the good hotels are found in Torre del Mar. That is not so. Although the tourism industry is more concentrated in the coastal area, there are respectable Velez-Malaga hotels conveniently located in this market town.
What we've featured below are some of the places where you'll be able to spend a comfortable and relaxing night after a busy day. Whether you're just looking for an easily accessible place to stay in Velez-Malaga or simply aching to find an alternative to what Torre del Mar has to offer, this list of Velez-Malaga hotels can get you to a good start on that quest.
Right in the heart of town are three cozy hotels laying claim to excellent service. These are Dila Hotel, Hotel Palacio Blanco, and Hotel Avenida. They are in close proximity to local restaurants, bars and pubs, hence can easily cater to your dining needs and nightlife expeditions.
-Dila Hotel features an elevator, an on-site ATM, a shuttle bus to the airport, and a 24-hour front desk, among others. Rooms are equipped with Satellite TV, telephone, air conditioning, a safe, minibar, and heating.
-Hotel Palacio Blanco amenities include a rooftop spa swimming pool, Wi-Fi Internet, TV, a courtyard, and a shuttle bus that can be made available upon request.
-Hotel Avenida comes with its own elevator, an on-site bar/cafe and restaurant, Internet, gym, sauna, as well as an in-room satellite TV and minibar.
Further north, two more hotels are situated on opposite sides of the town's outskirts; Cortijo Bravo on the northwest and Cortijo Los Vargas on the northeast.
Despite being a 19th century structure, Cortijo Bravo features WiFi Internet throughout its premises. You can have a dip in the outdoor pool or enjoy a cup of coffee on the sun terrace. Both offer magnificent views of the surrounding mountains along with the white villages nestled at their sides.
Cortijo Los Vargas also has its own pool and terrace. Its rooms are equipped with a satellite TV, heating, radio, and a dining room.
That should wrap up our list of Velez-Malaga hotels.
Shopping in Velez Malaga
Being primarily a market city, there are many commercial establishments in Velez-Malaga. Shopping here is easy because there are numerous shops scattered all over town. We can't include them all, but we tried to put some variety in our list below to cater to as many shopping needs as possible.
-Floristeria Ana Maria - If you need flowers for special occasions like a Mediterranean wedding, date, or party, or for an important business event, this flower shop along Calle Mayor Jose Herrera sells beautiful flowers and offers lovely flower arrangements.
-Charanga - Right along Avenida del Rey Juan Carlos I is a branch of the famous Charanga, the chain of shops specializing in children's apparel. Here you can find coats, sweaters, pants, shirts, blouses, accessories, etc. for children of all ages.
-Oteros Sport - Velez-Malaga and its environs, with their rugged landscapes and beautiful coasts, are ideal for outdoor activities like Segway driving, mountain biking, scuba diving, horse riding, etc. If you haven't brought the proper attire, you can buy it here.
-Bicitecnia - One of the favorite outdoor activities in this province is mountain biking. This shop offers bikes and biking accessories.
-Almacenes La Lonja - If you're a bookworm or just want to sample local literary works, this bookstore along Calle de Fray Rafael de Velez has a nice collection on its shelves. They also sell school and office supplies here.
-Mega Informatica - For your computer needs, there's this computer store along Calle de Enrique Van Dulken.
-Centro Comercial El Ingenio - Being strategically situated along Autovia del Mediterraneo or Autovia A-7 between the market city of Velez-Malaga and the tourist district of Torre del Mar, this shopping mall is one of the regular destinations of tourists and locals. Inside, you'll find numerous stores, cinemas, a disco, bowling alley, and many more. Restaurants and fastfood outlets are also ready to refill your empty stomach.
For very affordable fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat, you can either wait for the weekly market which is held every Thursday or drop by on any day of the week at the market in Poeta Joaquin Lobato.
There, I hope we've covered enough to meet your Velez-Malaga shopping needs.