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Ventas de Zafarraya and the 'boquete' de Zafarraya. SUR
Zafarraya: Marking a border or shepherds' fields
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Zafarraya: Marking a border or shepherds' fields

Zafarraya and Ventas de Zafarraya are the crossing point from Malaga to Granada provinces and are home to Neanderthal Man

Jennie Rhodes

Zafarraya

Friday, 1 September 2023, 16:18

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Zafarraya and Ventas de Zafarraya lie on the border between Malaga and Granada provinces in the Alhama, Tejeda and Almijara mountain range, with the Axarquía area to the south and the town of Alhama de Granada to the north. The 'boquete de Zafarraya'; is a large gap which appears in the mountains, almost like an enormous door between the two provinces.

According to some historians, the name Zafarraya comes from the Arabic Sai-arraya which means 'limit of territory', which makes sense given where the village lies. Other historians, including Purificación Ruiz García, in her paper about Zalia (Isla de Arriarán: cultural and scientific magazine, 2003) believe that the name stems from 'Fahaal-rayya', or 'Fahs arra a', which translates as "shepherds' field", alluding to the use of livestock as the main economy during Spain's Islamic period.

Neanderthal Man

The fertility of the area has led to the presence of man since ancient times, with the discovery of Zafarraya Man – the remains of a Neanderthal found in a cave in the vicinity in the early 1980s.

Between 1981 and 83 and then 1990-'94, a team of researchers led by Cecilio Barroso Ruiz carried out a research project in the Zafarraya cave. Researchers of different nationalities and forty scientific institutions from five European countries took part in the project where the remains were found.

During the middle ages the Cañada Real road passed through Zafarraya from Malaga to Granada. This route was protected by castles such as Zalía in the province of Malaga and Alhama. They occupied a strategic point of control and communication with the watchtowers of the Axarquía and warned of enemy invasion.

There are also remains from the Phoenician and Roman periods in the area, as well as the Al-Andalus period.

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