Vélez-Málaga is the capital of the Axarquía and is on the scenic route of sun and avocado. It is situated just 1 km inland from the coast at Torre del Mar. After the Moors conquest of Spain they founded Vélez-Málaga, naming it BallixMalaca (fortress of Malaga) It was one of the main cities of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada during the 13th to 14th century. As early as the 10th century 75% of the towns folk were Muslims, the rest were Christians.Ferdinand and Isabella on attempting to defeat Moorish rule decided to capture Vélez-Málaga so they could use the route through to Granada via Zafarraya, they also needed to be able to use the port at Mariyya Ballix (Torre del Mar) to bring in supplies. After their defeat of the town the Moors didn't leave immediately as the monarchy wanted to continue the production and export of among other things the sweet Málaga wine, but they were eventually expelled in 1584.
During the 15th and 17th centuries the Catholics decided to get rid of the Islamic heritage that remained in the town and started to destroy many of the old Moorish houses, building instead huge churches, monasteries and convents to such an extent that the town soon became known as Cuidad Conventual (Convent City). Santa Maria was one of the first to be built and today it remains an interesting site with its Muslim Minaret. Also the Convent of San Francisco which was built in 1488 can be found in the Plaza de San Francisco next to the indoor market. The construction was funded by the Catholic Kings. The old town was declared a historic artistic monument in November 1970 and a must see are the beautiful paintings of local artist Evaristo Guerra in the Hermitage de los Remedios, patron of Vélez. A real work of love.
However, the real land mark of Vélez has to be La Fortaleza, built on a hill top in the 13th century. It was an important fort in the 13th and 15th centuries for the Nazari Kingdom. It was used as a general headquarters in 1487 when the Catholic Monarchs conquered the city.
The Axarquía even has its own currency, the Axarcos, which came into effect in 1988 when Antonio Gámez Burgos, a native of Vélez-Málaga who in his desire to build a unified region, created this coin which is in use in many bars and restaurants notably La Peña just behind the town hall.
In the square in front of the Teatro del Carmen is a statue of one of the town's famous inhabitants, Antonio Ortega Escalona, better known as Juan Breva, who was born in Vélez-Málaga in 1844 and became one of the most important flamenco singers in Málaga. He was the creator of the Malagueños and Verdiales and he sang to the two Kings of Spain Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII. The official fiestas of the town are held on August 26th and September 27th. The feria is held mid July and the Romeria mid May.
Vélez-Málaga is very much a bustling, working Spanish town where you can still get a couple of tapas and a beer for €2,5 from one of the bars overlooking the Parque de Andalucia where you can take a stroll or just stand and admire the amazing bicentennial trees at its entrance with their incredible huge trunks and roots.
Take time out to visit Vélez-Málaga, you won't be disappointed.