Archez And Canillas de Albaida: Wonderful Mountain Retreat

Archez, a small white village and its near neighbour, Canillas de Albaida an even smaller settlement are perfectly located to enjoy the best of the Axarquía countryside. A mixture of traditional lifestyles and modern facilities, they are an ideal destination.

Series of white villages

Archez and Canillas de Albaida form part of a series of white villages that nestle in the foothills of the mountains across Axarquía like a pearl necklace. These villages are indeed treasures with their picture perfect white houses decorated with flowers and their winding alleyways. It is easy to become lost in their beauty. In fact, the word Albaida means white in Arabic, perfectly fitting the dazzling white buildings.

The beautiful church at Canillas de Albaida

Archez dates from the twelfth century and is located midway on the Mudéjar Route, a beautiful route that links five of the inland white villages. It is a perfect place to explore the Arabic heritage of Axarquía and the narrow streets allow the visitor to be transported to a different time and place.

The town is dominated by the minaret which now forms part of the fourteenth century Iglesias de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación, one of the most beautiful buildings in Árchez. Built in red brick, the minaret stands 15 metres high and is a square structure with a diamond-shape decoration. It is a Spanish National Monument. It is also the home of a local legend. When the church bell was being made it seems that a lizard fell into the forge.  Its imprint is there in the bell and, if you’re single and you touch the bell, you’ll find your love within the year.

The Fiesta Patronales - Party time!

The town celebrates its heritage and culture throughout the year. One of its most important festivals is the Feria, held in August. The Fiesta Patronales, in honour of San Sebastian and Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion, lasts a full twenty four hours as the town really knows how to party.

The bustling Wednesday market is held in the Plaza de Andalucía. It’s a place where local craftsmen display objects handmade from wood and wicker as well as local produce. This also includes the wine which is also available in the local bars.  The local bars and restaurants are traditional in nature and serve local dishes such as ajoblanco, a cold almond soup served with peeled grapes, potaje de garbanzos con bacalao, a cod and chickpea stew or tortas de bacalao con miel de caña, cod served with honey cakes. It’s close proximity to the coast around 25km from the sea means that menus are a mixture of meat and fish, all incredibly fresh and delicious.

Situated at the foot of the Sierras de Tejada y Almijara, in a valley formed by the Cajula and Turvilla rivers, is Archez’s near neighbour, Canillas de Albaida, a village dating back to the 13th century and also retaining many Moorish features.

Despite its small size, with less than a 1000 inhabitants, it celebrates with several lively festivals throughout the year. In June, there’s the Sierra de Axarquía Flamenco Festival and the San Juan festival. Of course, San Juan is celebrated all over Southern Spain especially along the coast but here in Canillas de Albaida, there is a traditional burning of the “júa” at night. These are rag dolls made out of old clothes which locals drape along the village.

Very close to the village is the Fábrica de la Luz or the light factory which is a most beautiful natural retreat in the Axarquía region. The disused ruin of the former factory is now a popular place to have a picnics especially with its waterside setting. There are lots of places surrounding Canillas de Albaida that offer a chance to escape, relax and unwind in nature.

The wine producing heart of Axarquia 

Also, Canillas de Albaida has another great reason to visit. This is at the heart of the Axarquía wine producing area. Vines cling to the sides of the mountains here and bodegas are happy to have visitors. If you visit one of the bodegas, you’ll be offered a tour and, of course a sample or two. In addition, some also serve food alongside the tours.

Both villages, Archez and Canillas de Albaida, are well worth a visit for their incredible beauty both structurally and naturally, their vibrant traditions and festivals and their warm Axaquaria welcome.