|CASARABONELA - “ITS LEGACY AND ITS TRADITIONS”||MUSEUM OF CACTI AND OTHER SUCCULENT PLANTS - ”A PRIVATE INICIATIVE”||LOS RONDELES - ”TRADITION AND ENIGMA WITH PRECIOUS IMAGES”|
Casarabonela is one of the towns of Malaga which has understood it best to combine his Muslim and Christian past. This fact allowed the village to maintain a big part of the original alley layout of the historic Casr-Bonaira. Its most precious resource is the water, flowing in innumerable fountains and streams in and around the village, creating in the more plane areas just underneath it a beautiful green carpet of fertile orchards, dotted with white farm houses.
Casarabonela, with white houses along alleys that wind up the steep slopes, preserves all the colour and flavour of the white villages of Andalusia, with secluded squares, such as the square of the Town Hall - a small building with lintels, balconies, small lanterns and clock underneath the gable – and with houses which show religious niches where certain images of popular devotion are worshiped.
The first reminiscences of human presence are dating back to prehistoric times and show various fields of industrial character (for example lithic workshops where tools of flint stone were produced), of residential character (inhabited caves with polished utilities, decorated ceramics and prehistoric paintings) and of funeral character (burial sites covered with stone slabs).
The settlement continues during the Iberian period and in the urban centre and the surroundings were detected Iberian remains like pottery.
Archaeologists detected the first urban nucleus in Roman times. The fortress – a real castra romana - was constructed and historically identified as the so called CASTRA VINARIA, mentioned by Plinio (Naturalis Historia, III, 10) to be situated in the Roman province “Betica”. Still today you can see remains of the “Vía Romana”, which proves that the town existed during the whole Roman period from the highest cultural level of the Roman Empire and through its decline straight into the Gothic period. Therefore historians mark Casarabonela as of Roman origin.
QASR BUNAYRA is its name during the Arab period, during which it acquires its maximum splendor and its true strategic importance due to its geographic situation and the peculiar location of the castle who actively participated in the rebellion of Omar Ben Hafsun against the reign of the Omeya dynasty in Cordoba in the Xth century, forming part of the defensive belt of “Bobastro”, which was the headquarters of the rebels in the early stages of the rebellion and which ruins still remain near the town of Ardales. In 922 Casarabonela finally becomes the base of operations of the Caliphate against the rebels and is reinforced by the Caliph once the rebellion was extinguished.
In the Nasrid period (from mid-thirteenth century) it is a fundamental part of the defensive system of the border and the constant battles against the Christian advance. After it fell in hands of the Christians, Muhammad V re-conquers it from the hands of the Spaniards in the campaign of 1366 along with the towns of El Burgo and Tolox.
In the late fifteenth century, it finally falls into the hands of the Catholic Monarchs on Thursday June 2, 1485. Once established the conditions of capitulation, it remained a significant Muslim population which was completed with a group of Christian settlers.
As the conditions agreed upon regarding the respect of lifestyle and traditions of the residents Moors were not met and as those suffered under severe fiscal pressure, they started a first attempt of a rebellion at the beginning of the 16th century in the mountain range Serranía de Ronda – at that time without success. The intents culminated later in the Revolt of the Alpujarras in 1568 with the deportation and forcible transfer of the Moorish population to other areas of the peninsula. Casarabonela was left practically without citizens and was repopulated with new Christians from Seville and other provinces.
Departure from Benalmádena in a tourist coach with 54 seats.
We go on the new highway of the coast to the speedroad A357, on which we stay until we arrive at the crossroad of Zalea/Casarabonela/Alozaina. At a distance of 11 km from the crossroad we arrive at Casarabonela.
|16:00 hours||We arrive at our first destination, situated at just 2 kilometres from the town centre of Casarabonela – the “Museum of cacti and other succulent plants Mora i Bravard”. During the following 90 minutes we will discover through the explanations of a botanic from the University of Malaga the surprising and fascinating world of the cacti, which will amaze us with some stunning information and details about this botanic family.|
|17:30 hours||We leave the museum in direction Casarabonela. Let us discover this Moorish village with all its history, legends and monuments, visiting the church, the museum of sacred art, its typical alleys with the enormous amount of religious niches and fountains and finishing with the visit of an historic olive oil mill, called “Molino de los Mizos”.|
|19:30 hours||Dinner in a restaurant of the villaje, enjoying the typical gastronomy of Casarabonela.|
|21:00 hours||We leave the restaurant. The acts of the procession of the Rondeles start at 21:30 hours with the blessing of the fire in front of the hermitage “Ermita de la Veracruz”. Afterwards start the procession of the “Divina Pastora” at 22.00 hours through the streets of the villages, accompanied by the Rondeles in flames. Due to the lack of space it will be impossible to keep the whole group together. Therefore we will agree upon a meeting point, where we will come all together again after the procession ended in the church. Once we are all reunited, we can decide if we want to return directly to the coast or if we stay longer in order to enjoy the specialities of the village from 24.00 hours onwards on the square by the church.|
|24:00 hours||From this hour onwards they distribute in the central square of town toasted slices of bread with olive oil and garlic (the “tostones”) and especially the so called “buñuelos” (pastry backed in oil) together with hot chocolate. We will leave the village, when everybody is served.|
|02:00 hours||Approximate arrival in Benalmádena (if we decide for the tasting of the specialities of the village).|
The “Botanical Garden of Cacti and other Succulent Plants” hosts the important collection of cacti, which the couple Edwige Bravard and Joan Gabriel Mora brought together from all over the world and cared for throughout their lives. They moved it from the island of Mallorca to Casarabonela in 1995, where it was finally donated in 2011 to the town hall of Casarabonela together with the 8.000 square metres of terrain, where it is situated.
After an investment of 2.4 billion Euros from the Andalusian Government Junta de Andalusia, the Provincial Council of Malaga and the City of Malaga itself, the centre now houses the largest collection in Europe, with some 10,000 plants of 2,500 different species adapted to live in the most arid places of tropical and subtropical areas around the world belonging to a total of 45 different botanical families among which the most abundant are the castáceas.
The best represented geographic areas are South Africa and Madagascar, as well as the deserts of the southern United States and Mexico. However, we also find numerous examples of species from South America (Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile and Argentina, mainly), tropical Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India, Australia and - of course - Europe and the Mediterranean region. There is also a special area dedicated to the Canary Islands.
This is the largest collection of cacti and succulents with the widest variety of species of all Europe, which can be compared without any doubt with the famous collection of Monaco. However, the latter one is not accessible to the public.
Due to its importance and botanical value, the collection is investigated and catalogued by a team of experts from the University of Malaga, which has a constant research center on the premises of the Garden.
The museum is actually becoming a place of reference for experts in these plants, who are conducting lectures and highly scientific reunions, for which purpose the museum counts with a conference room. It should also be mentioned that in the complex there is also a laboratory for research and to reproduce selected plants as some of them need to be artificially pollinated.
Therefore we can still feel very fortunate to be able to visit this gem in a quiet way and accompanied by a biologist from the University of Malaga.
This botanical garden has two different and very defined spaces:
The exterior garden is primarily designed in an ornamental and decorative way and wants to show the visitors the great possibilities and advantages of the use of this type of plants in garden architecture. In this part of the garden, which responds purely to landscaping aspects, you will find the so called succulent plants. Their main characteristic is the accumulation of water in the different parts of the plant and their extremely reduced water consumption, among others.
The special climate we have in this area of Malaga’s coast makes it possible that all cacti in this open air part of the Museum adapted effortlessly to their actual location.
In the modern greenhouses with state-of-the-art technology you might see the different species and plants organized according to their geographic origin. In these facilities live plants from arid tropical climates, with more stringent requirements, together with others for which the greenhouses play the role of an acclimatization garden.
This part also contains endangered species from three continents and some of the plants can only be visited in their original surroundings, where they are in danger of extinction - and in this Museum.
Part of the greenhouse is dedicated to miniature cactus, which despite their extremely small size may have already several decades and even centuries of age.
During the visit, we will discover a surprising and unknown world, which increasingly fascinates with every detail you hear about the properties, possibilities and abilities of adaptation of these plants, which are so underestimated and often unconsidered.