Colmenar: The Inland Gateway To Axarquía
Colmenar is at the farthest point of the Axarquía region and forms the entrance to this beautiful region. Surrounded by mountains and lush vegetation, it is a great place to start an exploration of the diverse scenery of Axarquía.
Colmenar is easily accessible via the motorway, 35km from Malaga on the A45 or AP46. From Torre Del Mar, the stunning A356 will take you to this small pretty white village. Because of its strategic position as a stopover point from Malaga, there has been a settlement here for many centuries. This is not a hill top village, despite being set 700m above sea level. In fact, Colmenar is in a valley.
Colmenar means honey
The name Colmenar means honey, which is handy as this village is a main producer of excellent honey. The Honey Museum is dedicated to the chief product of this municipality. Situated in the former Guild of Farmers’ building, it features several rooms to explore along with classroom-workshop as well as a gift shop. https://www.museodelamiel.com/
Along with honey and its by-products, Colmenar is rich with other locally produced food and drink. This is a major agricultural area and it is known as ‘the pantry of Malaga’. Excellent olive oil is produced here along with wine. It will come as no surprise that festivals here have a gastronomic or food theme. The day of the 'Pipa', held in May is allegedly the celebration of sunflower seeds and is the chance to celebrate with a huge picnic. In December, Colmenar hosts the festival and pays homage to two of its most typical products: mosto, unfermented grape juice and chacina, locally cured meats. This festival attracts a large crowd who are entertained with traditional songs or verdiales, flamenco music and, of course, lots of cured meats and drink!
With its foodie reputation, it will come as no surprise that local dishes feature many of its home grown produce. This is an inland area so food tends to be more meat based. Stew made with goat is often served or kid with garlic and bean tortilla and chickpeas cooked with gammon. If you order 'dish of the mountains' you won’t leave the area hungry with the combination of pork loin, chorizo sausage, potatoes, peppers topped with a fried egg. Desserts here go beyond the ubiquitous rice pudding or crème Catalan with borrachuelos or lemon pastries, wine roscos, a traditional type of cake and quince jelly. A great place to try these dishes is the highly recommended Taberna de Flores https://www.facebook.com/La-taberna-de-Flores-1760051460898574/ though there are many contenders in the village.
Nature features heavily in reasons to visit Colmenar. It is one of the entrances to Montes de Málaga Natural Park which is a beautiful area of nearly 5,000 hectares where Aleppo pine forests dominate the scenery. This is a perfect place to hike, picnic with a feast formed of local produce and immerse yourself in nature. Another option is to visit the source of the River Guadalmedina, which follows a route that takes you past flowing natural springs and fountains.
Explore and enjoy the views
Within the town, there are also places to explore and enjoy the views. The Convent of the Virgin of La Candelabra is the highest point of the village. Also known as the 'Ermita' or hermitage. From its spectacular viewpoints, you can see the Tajo and Doña Ana gorges as well as the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains. Legend has it that a group of fisherman saved from certain death in a terrible storm just off the coast of Malaga, built and dedicated the 17th century convent as a tribute to their miraculous survival.
Colmenar is a great introduction to the Axarquía region as it represents much of what attracts both visitors and those seeking to relocate to this diverse and unique area. There’s the beautiful natural scenery, the lively annual festivals, an abundance of natural produce and the friendliness and warmth that Axarquía and Andalucia are famous for.