Friday, 12 May 2023, 13:12
Comares looks over the rest of the Axarquía and towards Malaga from the top of a mountain at 703 metres above sea level. With only 1,320 inhabitants, according to official statistics from 1 January 2022, the village has become an attractive tourist destination thanks to its giant zip wire and climbing routes.
But where does the name Comares come from? And does it have anything to do with its privileged location high up on a mountain?
Local historian Eliseo Jiménez, author of several books on the history of Comares, maintains that the origin of the village's name is not clear. "Different authors establish different hypotheses about its origin," he says. The main hypothesis is that it has an Arabic origin, although other studies point to Latin or even Greek roots.
"It was undoubtedly Professor Chavarría Vargas who carried out a detailed study," Jiménez says, explaining: "There is no historical or social relationship between the name Comares and the tower and room of the same name in the Alhambra in Granada."
However, some historians, such as Hurtado de Mendoza and the lawyer Pedro Bermúdez de Pedraza, have argued that the tower and room of the Nasrid palace of Granada were named after a place called Comares.
For Jiménez, "This idea was maintained until well into the nineteenth century, since in Lafuente Alcántara's book The Traveller of Granada, the tower of Comares at the Alhambra, indicates that it was so called because masons and artisans from the Islamic period worked on the decoration."
However, the question is "definitively settled" thanks to the contributions of Torres Balbas and Gallego Burin, among others. The word 'Comares', by which the room, tower and nearby courtyard are known, comes from the Arabic word 'gamariyya', 'comaria', a term referring to the stained glass windows in the space. "The stained glass windows are still called 'comaria' in the east," adds the researcher.
For Jimenez, a "very important" hypothesis is the one put forward by Father Dario Cabanelas in an etymological study of the name Comares in the Alhambra in Granada.
He points out, as one more possibility, that its origin could lie in the connection between the Arabic words 'qâma' meaning "to rise, to rise up", and 'cars' which would translate as "throne, roof, and also sky".
"With this the word Comares would mean 'stay or seat of the throne', 'elevated throne' or 'height of heaven', which would be similar to the hall of the same name in the Alhambra. In addition to this, given the topographic characteristics of the village of Comares, which fully coincides with the meaning of 'height of heaven'," he maintains.
But this does not resolve the question, since during the Islamic period the village was known as 'Qumârið‘, “a word not explicable in its etymology through the Arabic language, so it can be related to a term prior to the Arab presence in the Iberian peninsula,” he explains, although it would have changed through the “Arabisation” of the word.
However, for Jiménez this still does not clear the doubts about the origin of the name. Other researchers believe it comes from the destruction of the ancient city of Cámara, which they identify with the depopulated area of Mazmullar. The location of this settlement has been identified within the vicinity of Colmenar. Other authors speak of 'comarix', which means 'height' in Berber languages.
From the sixteenth century a Greek hypothesis on the origin of the village's name is offered, suggesting that Comares means "land of many wild strawberry trees".
Jiménez points out that another researcher, Méndez Silva, also brings up strawberry tree connection with Comares.
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