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Seven towns in Malaga province to visit this Easter
Holy Week traditions

Seven towns in Malaga province to visit this Easter

The area is ideal for breaks during Holy Week, a time of year when a variety of religious traditions combine with the usual attractions

Tuesday, 19 March 2024

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Visitors come to watch processions and unusual performances, but also to see countryside and monuments. The province of Malaga is an ideal place for Easter breaks, thanks to the variety of religious traditions combined with other visits that can be made in inland towns. In addition to everything that can be seen in Malaga city, it is also worth visiting busy towns such as Antequera and Archidona, or smaller places such as Riogordo and Casarabonela, to get a complete overview of what this tradition means in the province.

Casarabonela

The Passion of Casarabonela is performed in the church.
The Passion of Casarabonela is performed in the church. Ayto. de Casarabonela

This is the first of the villages in the province of Malaga to offer its own dramatised representation of the Passion of Christ. Known as the Pasión de Casarabonela, this performance is very different from the rest of those that can be seen in the province in Holy Week, as it is done in a sober, almost gloomy manner, inside the church of Santiago.

As in previous years, it can be seen between Palm Sunday and Tuesday of Holy Week. Tickets must be purchased in advance: seating is limited as it takes place inside the church.

There is also no shortage of unique processions in Holy Week in Casarabonela, as well as chapels and religious alcoves. There are also arches, fountains and even industrial chimneys. However, the most important vestige of the town centre is what remains of its castle, located in the heart of the village. It is well worth a visit to see its remains and admire the view.

Casarabonela also has an interesting network of footpaths, which provide access to enclaves such as the summit of the Alcaparaín mountain range or the Tajo San Francisco, among other interesting landmarks in the surrounding area.

Alhaurín el Grande

Brotherhood of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno.
Brotherhood of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno. Miguel A. Ruiz

Alhaurín el Grande is known for its processions, corresponding to two rival religious borhterhoods, the 'verdes' and the 'moraos', named after the colours of their robes. The calendar of processions and live re-enactments of the Passion of Christ covers practically every day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

At the same time, this town offers the visitor an intense tour of its rich historical legacy which, in addition to the church of La Encarnación and various chapels, includes medieval remains both inside and outside the town centre.

Among the latter are the tower of Hurique, in the rural hamlet of the same name, or the Cobertizo arch, behind the aforementioned parish church. Outside the town you can enjoy beautiful hiking routes in the area known as Fuente del Acebuche.

Antequera

Running up the hill in Antequera.
Running up the hill in Antequera. Diputación de Málaga

Antequera is famous for the Torcal mountain rock formations and the dolmens that are now a Unesco heritage site. It is also a hive of activity at the height of Holy Week. The religious traditions of this town include what is known as 'correr la vega': in the processions that end in the higher part of the town, the bearers run up the steep streets with the figures of Christ and Our Lady.

But apart from this unusual custom, Antequera has a full programme of Holy Week processions. Visitors can also enjoy the town's rich historical heritage, which, beyond the religious buildings, also includes stunning civil architecture, with ancestral and palatial homes scattered throughout the old town.

A tour of monuments should include, among many other historic sites, the Arch of the Giants, the Alcazaba, the Royal Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor, the town museum, the dolmens complex and the Roman villa of La Estación.

In addition, there is a rich natural heritage, which includes sites such as the Torcal de Antequera and its various hiking routes. There are also very original walks that start from the town itself, such as the Arquillas route, which goes as far as the Convento de la Magdalena hotel, or the "textile factories" route, which recalls Antequera's more recent industrial past.

Archidona

The Plaza Ochavada is the setting for several brotherhood gatherings.
The Plaza Ochavada is the setting for several brotherhood gatherings.

The iconic eight-sided Plaza Ochavada is one of the urban spaces that shines the brightest during Holy Week in Archidona. There are special moments that locals and visitors take away with them in their cameras, mobiles or retinas.

There is no doubt that the processions and other moments of the Passion of Christ are experienced in a special way in this town, thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of the many brotherhoods that take part every year.

Archidona is an ideal destination for a Easter Week excursion, not only because of its religious traditions, but also because you will see one of the province of Malaga's most historical towns. In the town centre, in addition to the aforementioned Plaza Ochavada, you will see churches, a convent where cakes and biscuits are still made, and even the school where Blas Infante once studied.

Add to this the piece of history that awaits on the hill of the Virgen de Gracia, where a large part of an important castle from the Andalusian period is preserved, and where the legend of the Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers' Rock) begins.

There, there is even a hermitage that preserves part of a former mosque. And, of course, there is no shortage of panoramic views.

Another incentive for visiting Archidona these days is hiking, with the possibility of discovering the Hoz del Arroyo Marín at one of the best times of the year.

Ronda

High point of a procession in Ronda.
High point of a procession in Ronda. Turismo Andaluz

There is also plenty of devotion and dedication to be seen during Holy Week in Ronda. Its processions are well known, most of which run through its old quarter, with some of Andalucía's most famous monuments.

The Easter processions provide many special moments from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday in the town. Holy Week is also a good reason to enjoy the rest of the time in its squares and streets. The Alameda del Tajo, the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), the Mondragón Palace, the House of the Giant, the Joaquín Peinado Museum, the Arab Baths and the remains of the walls that once protected the city are just some of the places to visit.

We must not forget the importance of the world of wine in Ronda, with numerous wineries scattered around the town, most of which are open to visitors. There are also many possibilities for walking, from the circular route that starts at the Puente Nuevo bridge and goes down to the Guadalevín before returning to the town centre, to the paths that lead to sites such as the cave chapel of the Virgen de la Cabeza.

Riogordo

One of the most spectacular live performances takes place in Riogordo.
One of the most spectacular live performances takes place in Riogordo. El Paso de Riogordo

Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the days marked on the calendar of many local people who do not want to miss one of the most famous live Passion plays in Andalucía. Every Easter Week, the Paso de Riogordo brings together thousands of people, both in the organisation and in the audience, in a specially created outdoor "theatre" on the edge of the town centre.

Riogordo also offers a pleasant route through its streets, where visitors can stop to enter the church of Nuestra Señora de Gracia or the hermitage of San Sebastián (also known as the hermitage of Jesús Nazareno). There is also the Ethnographic Museum, a collection that takes us back to daily life in the home and in the countryside, with household items, tools and other very unique pieces.

Those who want to enjoy hiking have several options. Among them, those offered by the great routes of the Gran Senda de Málaga, which means that today this village has footpaths to neighbouring towns such as Alfarnate, Alfarnatejo, Periana and Comares.

Iznate

Iznate does not have a live Passion play like the village of Cajiz in neighbouring Vélez-Málaga, but this village in the Axarquía district can well boast of having one of the most unique traditions of Holy Week in Malaga, in which villagers dressed in very old tunics and masks search for the image of the Child Jesus every Easter Sunday.

This is not the only tradition, however. Iznate begins Holy Week each year with the festival dedicated to its patron, the Virgen de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows) the Friday before Palm Sunday.

But this municipality also boasts other attractions in its own streets or in the surrounding area. Before entering the town centre, you should stop at the Fuente de los Tres Deseos fountain, and before leaving, you should go up to Loma de Barcos, one of the best viewpoints on the eastern coast of Malaga province. This route can be done on foot, although there is a significant climb on the last stretch. However, the effort is well worth it as you can see an unbeatable panoramic view of the Mediterranean at your feet. On clear days you can even see Africa.

Other towns in Malaga not to be missed this Easter are Campillos, Álora, Arriate, Vélez-Málaga, Carratraca and Coín.

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