A Fascinating Holiday in the Old Moorish Town of
Álora - Valle del Sol (Valley of Sun)
Álora is a dramatic small town set astride three steep hills, the most prominent dominated by an old Moorish Castle. For the most part it is still a peueblo blanco (white-walled village) with narrow whitewashed streets, steep slopes, churches, lemon trees and squares where people gather. However, it also has a more modern quarter with reasonable and interesting shops and many bars and restaurants.
The town is small enough to walk everywhere and, despite the slopes, it's fun to do so. Cuarenta is situated on the hillside behind the church and is only a five minute walk through the winding streets to the main square - always full of life, particularly in the mornings when the men come to smoke, drink coffee (maybe brandy) and talk and the evenings as people come out to be social. From the square you can choose to stroll along the main shopping street or continue down the hill to the old town square "Plaza de La Despedia", named for the farewell of Mary to Jesus. This is dramatically acted out each Good Friday in front of of La Encarnacion, the impressive and imposing seventeenth century Catholic church. A short climb up the next hill brings you to the dominant building in the town, the dramatic Old Castle - first built by the Phoenicians, expanded by the Romans, destroyed by the Visigoths and finally re-built by the Moors.
The Castle (similarly the roof terraces at Cuarenta!) affords panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the Guadalhorce valley and the mountains. You will notice how fertile the land is compared to most of Andalucia, the lush green orange and lemon groves fed by the (relatively!) plentiful river water. The surrounding area is easily accessible and delightful for evening strolls or longer walks (see walking itinerary). Towering above all is El Hacho, the mountain overlooking the town. Go and see Álora the way the vultures see it - you will often see these magnificent birds circling in the countryside from the house terraces. The top of El Hacho is only 2 km from the centre of town, just the matter of the 559 metres to climb.
Álora is delightful, a charming microcosm of traditional Spain. You will find markets (Monday), several good restaurants, many pleasant tapas bars, flamenco in the streets (beware, it can go on until dawn), festivals (esp. the flamenco festival in June, the Romería de la Virgen de las Flores in September, Easter and the Three Kings in January - click for pictures) or, if you prefer, just enjoy the peace and quiet and the sunshine. You should enjoy yourself here from the moment you see the town's oversized welcome sign to the day you sadly have to leave for the airport. We hope you have a good time.