Arenas lies 44 kilometres from Malaga and 13 kilometres from the coast at Torre del Mar, at an altitude of 416 metres. The village is located within the area of Axarquia, on the scenic Mudejar Route, and has a population of 1,425.
Arenas hosts a variety of annual festivals including a Mule Fair every 12th October. Until a few decades ago, the commerce of goods between Malaga´s coast and Granada was conducted using mules through the steep footpaths of the Tejeda mountains. Arenas, situated in a strategic location on these routes, started as a meeting point for muleteers, stockbreeders and farmers where they could trade animals, refresh themselves and socialise. With the Mule Fair, Arenas celebrates this tradition and has widened activities to include rural crafts, music, dancing and free paella accompanied by unlimited quantities of beer and wine. Details of Arenas´ other annual festivals can be found at the fiestas link at the bottom of this page.
Arenas Arenas is situated below the ruins of the Castle Bentomiz which is a Moorish fortress built over a Roman site. The castle played a defensive role during Moorish occupation and was used as a refuge and to fight off a Christian attack in 1483. In 1487 Fernando the Catholic camped near to the village for which reason it became known as Arenas del Rey (Arenas of the King). The castle surrendered to Fernando leading to the fall of Velez-Malaga and the whole of the region on April 27th 1487, despite the efforts of El Zagal the Moorish king of Granada. The castle also played a role in Morisco uprisings during 1569. Castle Bentomiz still has towers, walls and underground chambers.
The usual route to reach the village is to take the A117 out of Velez-Malaga from where the village is just 10 kilometres away. This road winds up to the Bentomiz hill and has splendid panoramic views down to the sea. Halfway along this road at the Venta El Palomar the municipality of Arenas begins. Behind is the old Roman road from the 1st century BC which linked Arenas to the coast. This old road ran parallel to the River Seco on the right bank. A little further on is a group of farmhouses where, in times past, mulateers transporting raisins, silks and wine from Arenas to Torre del Mar rested. These products were exported to the rest of Europe and the Far East.
The Moorish origin of the village itself is evident in the narrow, winding streets. There is an ancient olive mill and a mural made by the prestigious ceramist Virgilio González at the village entrance. The centre has typical narrow streets, squares and corners adorned with flowers and potted plants. There are three different areas to the town. The Barrio Alto is an interesting area where craftsmen, ceramists and blacksmiths live. The urban centre is where the better-off residents of the town live, and the area which houses the Town Hall and a square with the 12th century church-mosque of Santa Catalina. The third area is the Barrio Bajo where the more humble workers of the town live. From any point in the village one can see the hill of Bentomiz, with its ancient fortifications. The peak can be reached on mule or on foot, from where the coastline and the Rif mountains of North Africa can be seen.
Size of Municipality: 26 km2
Altitude: 416 m
Distance to Malaga: 44 km
Distance to coast: 13 km
Average sunshine per day: 8 hrs
The parish church of Santa Catalina was built in the 16th century of Mudéjar construction on the previous site of a 12th century mosque. The minaret of the mosque remains in perfect condition.
The hamlet of Los Vados and the small villages of Daimalos where excellent quality wines are produced are close to, and within the municipality of, Arenas. Two 12th century remains are located in Daimalos: a Moorish fountain and a minaret believed to be the oldest of the Merini period. The parish church, also built over an old mosque, has a single nave and a minaret converted into a bell tower by the Christians. Daimalos village centre is again typically Moorish with low houses on steep and narrow streets, all leading to the church square also built on an incline.
As with other areas of the Axarquia, walking as an activity attracts visitors to Arenas. There are two popular routes, one leading to the base of the Bentomiz hill south of the village and the other towards the Cerro Alto beside the Salares stream.
Arenas Popular Fiestas:
Mid June – Pedal Fiesta
Early August – Feria de Daimalos
Mid August – Feria de Arenas
12th October – Mule Fair
Arenas Useful Numbers:
Emergency Doctor: 061
Emergency Police: 091
Town Council: 952 509 005
Council website: www.arenas.com.es