Macharaviaya: A name barely changed by time

Macharaviaya: A name barely changed by time

The village was known as 'little Madrid' in the eighteenth century thanks to the Gálvez family who moved there and had important links

Jennie Rhodes

Friday, 4 August 2023


Macharaviaya (Matcha-ra-vee-ay-ah, not the easiest village name to pronounce in the Axarquía) and neighbouring Benaque started as two eighth-century farmsteads built on a hill between two water sources, guaranteeing supply for the population and crops. During the Al-Andalus period: 'Machar Ibn Yaya', meant farmstead of the son of Yaya.

The pronunciation has remained largely unchanged and it still sounds more or less the same as it would have then. After the Reconquista at the end of the fifteenth century, the village's inhabitants either fled or were forced out and history suggests that there was no full-scale repopulation until much later, which was typical of many other villages in the Axarquía area.

Macharaviaya's luck took an unexpected turn with the appearance of the Gálvez family, who gave it a surprising economic boost in the eighteenth century.

The village enjoyed unusual economic prosperity and was visited by the most influential people in Malaga who came to strengthen ties with the illustrious Gálvez family, who in turn had links with King Charles III of Spain.

During this period a new church was built, a playing card factory opened, an agricultural bank was set up and drinking water was brought to the village, which became known as 'little Madrid' thanks to its ties with the Gálvez family.


Benaque is a hamlet belonging to Macharaviaya which lies approximately two kilometres to the north of the bigger village.

Benaque's name, like many other villages in Malaga province, starts with the prefix 'Ben' (as in Benajarafe, Benalmádena, Benagalbón etc) meaning son of or descendant in Arabic.

Benaque is the birthplace of Spanish poet, Salvador Rueda, who was exiled during the Spanish Civil War and there is an annual poetry evening in late September in his honour.

Like many churches in the Axarquía, the one in Benaque was built on the site of a mosque. It is well-known for its seventeenth-century frescoes which were discovered during a restoration project.

The local Gálvez museum provides an interesting insight into the village's history and guided tours are available in English.


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