Calle de la Iglesia
Ardales is situated in an area that borders on the
Ronda Mountains, the Antequera
countryside and the Guadalhorce Valley, and is very rich in architecture,
archaeological remains and natural resources. The
town has a medieval flavour about it, dominated by a castle and a church
in the typical mountain
village style, and is rich in architecture and archaeological
remains, both in and around the town. Not far from Ardales is the
famous Nature Park of the Desfiladero (Gorge) de los Gaitanes and the
Caminito del Rey, along
with the reservoirs of the Guadalhorce, which many people
from Cordoba and Seville visit and camp in during the summer. Within
this larger nature park is
the Ardales Park, a nature museum and the archaeological
museum of the municipality. On a visit to Ardales one can stay
in hotels, inns or camp sites right through the year. The
origins of the town go back to the Copper Age, as various finds from the
Palaeolithic period in the
Doña Trinidad Grund cave, or the Ardales Cave, tell
us. The Romans settled here later, fortifying the place with a castle
in the area known as the
Peña de Ardales. It was conquered by the Moorish leader
Alhur al Tagafi in 716, and thus was named Ard-Allah, meaning "The
Garden or Land of Allah".
Ardales became very important in the 9th century, when
the Moorish war-lord Omar Ibn Hafsun challenged the power of the
Cordoba rulers by
establishing his headquarters in nearby Bobastro. The complete
defensive ring around the town consisted of the fortresses at Ardales
and Turón to the west, the Castle of Teba to the east and the castle
of Álora to the south,
encouraging the people of the region to join the rebel
war-lord. The Ardales castle, situated on the frontier of that time,
was regarded as an
especially worthy prize by Christians and Moors alike. The
present town was established following the re-conquest of the area by
the Christians in 1389.
to be visited|
Ardales plays an important part in the conservation of the
history of the
region with its museums: the Municipal Museum (Tel: 952 458
Ardales Park Museum (Tel: 607 392 141) and the Interpretation
Centre of the
Prehistoric Caves of Ardales. The Ardales Park Museum is
situated beside the
reservoir with camping facilities, and there members of the
public can see
the geological, historical, archaelogical and natural history
of the area,
along with the history of the El Chorro dam. In the Municipal
History and Traditions, situated at the entrance to the town,
one can see archaeological remains that show the origins of the town, along
with various items that show how people have lived here over the centuries.
The Interpretation Centre is situated close to the Town Hall, in
the Plaza de la Constitución, and it shows archaeological and human remains
from various periods, with a series of panels that tell us more about the
Palaeolithic period in this place.
The Mozarab town of Bobastro
This is a medieval site dating from the 9th and 10th centuries,
the most important part of which is the stone Mozarab temple of
Bobastro. It has three naves supported by an arched structure, all excavated
from the rock and annexed to a hermit complex, built around the year 917 A.D.
Few towns in this country can claim origins going back to
Neolithic times, but Ardales can indeed make such a claim. Pre-historic remains
from the first Neolithic settlements have been found close to the Peña,
where the Mozarab Castle and the Mudejar church were built. There are
also important buildings in the town centre, like the Church of Ntra. Sra. de
los Remedios,built over a 15th century mosque. Beside the river Turón we
have the Roman Bridge of La Molina, built in stone with three arches during
the reign of Augustus in the first century A.D.
This cave, also known as the Cueva de Doña Trinidad or de la
Calinoria, was discovered in 1821. It measures a kilometre and a half in
length inside, the various sections known as the Gran Sala, the Sala del Lago, the
Galería del Espolón, the Galería de los Grabados and the Sala de las
Manos. There are columned labyrinths, lakes and wonderful stalactites and
stalagmites along the way, and also some well-preserved drawings and paintings
from the Upper Palaeolithic period, about 20,000 years ago.
The most representative drawing is the Gran Cierva en Negro
(the Big Deer in Black) or the Ardales Deer, painted in black with a large red
spot where the heart would be.
Other images show more deer, goats and fish. For appointment to
visit, call 952 45 80 87.
The castle is situated on a rocky promontory 496 metres high,
dominating the surrounding landscape that extends towards the Peñarrubia
Mountain Range, making it a very important strategic defence post. From here
one can see the minaret in the Sierra de Peñarrubia and the castle in
Turón. Although remains have been found here from pre-historic times, it is
known that the remains we see in our day are medieval in origin. The castle
was built in the end of the 9th century, during the Umar Ibn-Hafsun rising,
and formed part of his dominions until the Cordoba Omeyas put an end to
his adventure with the seizure of Bobastro. Following the re-conquest of the
Guadalquivir Valley by the Christian forces, the castle became very
important once again with the frontier now having moved to this area and mutual
incursions being made by both the Christian forces and the Granada armies into
the region. The Adrales fortress now was the big prize, and it passed from
hand to hand quite a number of times. It was seized again in 1362 during the
reign of Pedro I de Castilla, but fell to the Moors six years later.
of Ardales with the castle in the background
There was relative peace during the final years of the 14th
century, but hostilities began again in the beginning of the following
century with the
weakness of the Moorish kingdom encouraging the Christians to
lay siege to
Ardales once again. It was re-conquered in 1433, along with the
posts at Turón and Iznájar, but passed into Moorish hands
again in 1447. The
final Christian conquest by the governor Teba, Juan Ramírez de
successful in 1453 or 1454 after the inhabitants had fled, and
the town was
incorporated later into the condado (county) of Teba.
The first historical image we have of the Ardales fortress is
made by J. Hoefnagle, part of the Civitatis Orbis Terrarum, in
1564. In this
one can see the peak of the Peña, along with various buildings
farmhouse on the slopes. One also see the large irrigation
between the 15th and 16th centuries, to bring water from the
Alcaparaín mountains to the base of the fortress. Part of the
double wall of
this construction still remains, with modern houses now built
There also exist in our time two walled areas of the castle.
area follows the lie of the land, making for an irregular
entrance is through a curved doorway located behind the church,
some parts remain. The square living area is situated on the
upper slopes of
the hill, and has a tower at each corner. It was here that the
settled after the final re-conquest.
A total of nine towers still exist, all around the perimeter of
although there were probably more originally. One of these,
perhaps by way
of homage, gives out over the north east.
There are no visible remains of the Emirate occupation of this
the remains we actually see date from different Nazeri and
periods. The walls are made of rubble, and one of the corners
with rectangular blocks of stone.
Church of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios
The building of the church was instigated by the aforementioned
Ramírez de Guzmán after the definitive re-conquest of the
town and work on
the Mudejar-style building finished at the end of the 15th
century. At the
beginning of the 17th century it was found to be in a bad
condition and was
reconstructed in 1720, conserving the original Mudejar style.
The new church
was similar in style to many of the religious structures in
Seville at the
time, and it became part of the Malaga diocese in 1833. Further
work on the
building was carried out in the 19th century, without any great
The church is situated close to the fortress in Ardales, and
was built with
three naves separated by thick columns on square bases. The
rectangular in shape, with arches reaching out and upwards.
These are all
elements of typical Mudejar architecture, as are the nave
central framework on these ceilings and the lateral naves.
The presbytery is square, with a octagonal Baroque vault
separated from the
central nave by a huge pointed main arch. There is a
tabernacle inside with the image of the Virgen de Villaverde in
wood. The side chapels were built in the 18th century, and are
dedicated to the Virgen del Rosario and the Cristo de la
Sangre, a curious
piece of artwork that was put together in 1944 from three
that had been destroyed in the Civil War. The other chapels
lateral naves were also built in the 18th century, the most
being that of San Isidro, built in 1783 to enlarge the actual
This has a square base and is vaulted in a semi-spherical
scallop design. At
the end there is a semicircular arch that opens out onto a
The chapel is highly decorated in gesso, and beside it is the
vaulted rectangular room that links to the main altar by a
elevated choir was built in the 18th century also.
On the outside one sees the brick entrance with its
framing pillars that support the top, where we can read an
1723. On top of this there is a semicircular pediment opening
out on a niche
and crowned with another curved pediment with a small opening,
there is a triangular pediment holding a cross. The entrance
attributed to the Seville architect Diego Antonio Díaz , who
worked at that
time in the diocese of Seville. More of his work in Seville
itself, like the
door of the Convent of Santa Rosalía, is of a similar style to
Beside the entrance there is a square brick tower, possibly
built at the end
of the 18th century by Antonio Matías de Figueroa, master
builder of the
Cabildo Eclesiástico in Seville, and who worked on the door of
neighbouring Campillos church as well. The tower seems to be
part of an
earlier construction, having a simple facade both inside and
decoration there is can be seen at the top of the structure,
roofed in green
tiles and topped by a small octagonal shape covered in more
La Posada del
Conde. Pantano del Chorro, 16 y18. 29550. Ardales. Tel:
952 112 411.
Bar Juan Vera. C/Andrade
Navarrete, 9. Specialising in varied tapas. Tel: 952
Restaurante-Hostal El Cruce.
Ctra Álora-Campillos, s/n. 29550. Ardales. Tel: 952
Mesón-Restaurante El Oasis.
The reservoir area. Tel: 952 112 400.
Mesón Ardales. C/Cantarranas,
2. Tel: 952 458 337.
Restaurante El Mirador.
Specialising in grilled meats. The reservoir area. Tel.
952 112 400.
Restaurante El Kiosco. Home
cooking. The reservoir area. Tel. 952 112 382.
Bar El Mellizo. Specialising
in tapas. Pza de San Isidro. Tel: 952 458 118.
Bar El Casino. Specialising in
tapas. Pza de San Isidro.
Posada del Conde. El Chorro Reservoir, 16 and18.
29550. Ardales. Tel: 952 112
Camping Parque Ardales. Bda.
Los Embalses s/n. Tel: 952 112 401 and 952 458 175.
Hostal El Cruce. Ctra
Álora-Campillos, s/n. 29550. Ardales. Tel: 952 459 012.
Accommodation in the province of Malaga
Sala de las Estrellas
(Room of the Stars) in the Ardales Cave
September, during which the Romería de la Virgen de Villaverde takes
In this the image of the Virgin is carried to the Llanos de Belén, at the
end of the Guadalhorce reservoir, accompanied by the pilgrims and musical
bands. This makes the period a good time to visit Ardales, and enjoy as
the pleasant climate there at this time of the year. The Fiesta de la
Matanza (Killing) takes place in February, where the best pork meats are
cooked and tasted, these being the basis of the agricultural industry in
The big event in Ardales is the Feria Grande, during the first week of
The best known gastronomic items to come out of Ardales are the
almendra" a type
of almond-flavoured cookie, and the "torta de aceite", a
pastry made with olive oil. Other traditional
dishes are the free-range kid
and the lamb
The area around Ardales is considered to be of
the utmost geological interest, quite
apart from its natural beauty. The Desfiladero de los Gaitanes
in El Chorro is one of the most impressive sights in all of Andalucía,
while the lakes further on have been favourably compared to many famous
lakes all over the world. In El Chorro too one can see the famous Caminito
del Rey, the King¹s Way, formerly used to cross this huge rock-face.
Among the sporting activities of the area are trekking, rock-climbing
and water sports on the lakes. The
lakes (reservoirs) are actually in different municipalities, one being
entirely in Ardales while the others are
shared between Antequera, Campillos and
Teba. The dam of El Chorro controls the flow of water from the Conde
del Guadalhorce Reservoir. In front of the dam is the Casa del Ingeniero,
a small palace of great beauty. The Conde del Guadalhorce Reservoir
is fed by the waters of the river Turón, and between the three
reservoirs is an
area known as Los Tres Lagos, the Three Lakes.