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Alfarnate sits at 900 metres above sea level. Salvador Salas
Alfarnate: A flour mill until Sakura took over
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Alfarnate: A flour mill until Sakura took over

The village is known as the Alps of the Axarquía as it sits at 900 metres above sea level in the Alhama, Tejeda and Almijara mountain range

Jennie Rhodes

Alfarnate

Friday, 8 March 2024, 15:31

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Alfarnate is situated 900 metres above sea level in the Sierra Alhama, Tejeda and Almijara mountains to the north of the Axarquía. It is the highest village in the area and is known as 'the Alps of the Axarquía'. Thanks to the cooler climes, Alfarnate is well-known for its excellent cherries.

In spring the village celebrates its annual 'Sakura' festival which means cherry blossom in Japanese - a nod to the country famed for its stunning trees.

However, the name of the village has nothing to do with its cherries and instead comes from the Arabic word Al-farnat, meaning 'flour mill'.

The first written reference to 'Los Alfarnates' (Alfarnate and neighbouring Alfarnatejo) dates back to the tenth century, when the area is described as a "farmstead with a large flour production", hence its name.

The area didn't really grow into a village as such until after the Reconquista in 1487 and people started to settle there from around 1489. At that point the two villages were in fact just one and until the eighteenth century when they split into two.

The old Venta de Alfarnate (today a restaurant-museum) was frequented by personalities such as King Alfonso XIII, Miguel de Cervantes and the infamous nineteenth century bandits, José María el Tempranillo and Luis Candelas.

As well as cherries, the village is home to olive groves, almond trees, wheat and chickpeas which are said to be of the highest quality, so much so that even the Spanish author Juan Valera spoke of them in his book Juanita la Larga, although in the book he claims to have found ones even better than those of Alfarnate: "The land was very generous and produced the most buttery, fat and tender chickpeas that were eaten in the whole province, and in comparison the famous chickpeas of Alfarnate were like bullets."

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