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Romantic legends for Valentine's Day

The Peña de los Enamorados, left, as seen from Antequera's Alcazaba.
The Peña de los Enamorados, left, as seen from Antequera's Alcazaba. / J. Almellones
  • Daimalos, Antequera and Benadalid are among the places in the province of Malaga with their own unique love stories

Loves which are impossible and misunderstood and come to tragic ends: that is the general synopsis of many lovers' legends which exist in Malaga province.

Most of these stories, which refer to the most turbulent years of Al-Ándalus, predate the famous story of Romeo and Juliet and are set in places such as Antequera, Archidona, Benadalid, Periana and the Guadalhorce Valley.

Without a doubt, the most famous Malaga legend of them all is that of Tello and Tagzona, which is set between the historic towns of Antequera and Archidona. Tello was a brave soldier who was being held prisoner in the fortress at Archidona, and she was the daughter of the 'wali' Ibrahim, who was in charge of the castle. Their lives and their romance ended tragically on what is now known as the 'Peña de los Enamorados', or Lovers' Rock.

Tagzona's father, like most of society at the time, disapproved of this passion between people from opposing bands and religious beliefs. Despite this, according to popular legend, the young girl helped Tello to escape and they fled from the castle in Archidona towards Christian territory. However, they were unsuccessful. The guards discovered what had happened and set off in pursuit. Tagzona and Tello were close to the massive rock when they realised they were being chased, and they decided in desperation to throw themselves from the top so Ibrahim's troops could never separate them.

This story is not only set around Lovers' Rock but also the castles of Antequera and Archidona, and both towns mark it in one way or another. In Antequera, for example, there is a sculpture in the Plaza de Castilla to pay tribute to that impossible love.

In Periana, local people talk about a similar story. In this case it is a beautiful Christian captive, Sara, who falls in love with a handsome Muslim. Faced with opposition to their romance the couple flee but, just as in the story of Tello and Tagzona, they took the drastic decision: to throw themselves off the Marchamonas hill, which is not far the village.

The lovers from Benadalid made a different but no less tragic decision. Because their romance, which was also between a Christian girl and a Muslim man, was impossible, they decided to run away together and find a wild rose which, according to legend, was lethal. They both decided to prick themselves with this plant in order to die together.

There are, however, some stories with much happier endings, such as the one which took place on the fertile lands of the Guadalhorce Valley, featuring Abindarráez, Jarifa and Rodrigo de Narváez. Rodrigo captured Abindarráez when he was on the way to Coín to marry his betrothed, Jarifa. Abindarráez, who was from the Abencerrajes family, pleaded with his captor to let him go so he could get married and Rodrigo did so, but only on one condition: that he would return three days later. Not only did Abindarráez return as promised, but Jarifa came with him. In view of this unconditional love, Narváez decided to let them both go.

Looking for love

The fountain in Daimalos.

The fountain in Daimalos. / J. A:

In Malaga there are also stories of people who looked for love, such as the one featuring a fountain in the hamlet of Daimalos, in the municipality of Arenas. There, they say that a young woman, on the advice of a saint, drank water from the fountain several times a day. Within a short time, not only had she found a boyfriend but she also recommended the practice to her single girlfriends. Nowadays water still flows from this same fountain, which is known as the 'Fuente del Amor', or Fountain of Love.

A similar story is that of the Fuente de la Doncella, near Burriana beach in Nerja. A beautiful girl used to go there every day to try to cure an illness with its waters. Along the way, she met a handsome man who liked to drink the same water. A friendship grew between them and eventually blossomed into love. He asked her to marry him but, conscious of her illness, she turned him down. Despite that, according to legend, he remained faithful to her for the rest of his life.