Colmenar, the capital of the Montes de Málaga, lies in the most westerly point of the Axarquía, 30 km from Málaga and the coast. It is 700 metres above sea level and is part of the Ruta del Aceite y los Montes. Although populated since the Neolithical period Colmenar is one of the younger villages as it wasn´t until after the Christian King´s conquest that it was established and didn´t become an independent township until 1777. The name comes from Colmena (Spanish for beehive) after a local honey producing estate of the same name. Even today you can buy local honey and there is a honey museum in the centre of the town that is on the list of places of interest in the Axarquía to receive money for a major spruce up to attract tourism. The towns coat of arms features a haycock with 7 bees buzzing around it.
At the top of the village on a hill overlooking the whole area is the magnificent hermitage of La Santisima Virgen de la Candelaria. Built in the 17th century it is consecrated to the patron saint of Colmenar and became a historical local monument on July 4th 1982. Legend has it that it was erected by a group of sailors from the Canary Islands who survived a storm and built it to show their gratitude. Lower down in the centre of the town is the 16th century parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción with its Moorish style architecture, three naves separated by semicircular arches on square pillars.
The towns festive calendar starts on February 2nd with the festival in honour of the town´s patron saint, the Virgen de la Candaleria but one of the most popularfestivals is the Dia de la Pipa which takes place on May 3rd when all the townsfolk head to the countryside to eat bread rolls filled with hard boiled eggs.
The easiest way to get to Colmenar from Malaga is to take the motorway towards Sevilla/Granada and turn off at Casabermeja where one of the few remaining Osborne Bulls stands on the hill in front of you. However, the most attractive route is via the Montes de Málaga on the Carretera de Colmenar, through the pine forests with the road winding higher and higher and over itself via 2 tunnels. There are a few Ventas on route where you can stop to admire the view, take in the smell of the pines and generally have a good, relaxing time.