Riogordo: Right In The Heart Of Axarquía

Riogordo is located in stunning countryside surrounded by imposing mountains. This pueblo blanco is an excellent destination for nature lovers and those seeking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the coastal areas.

Travel 35km north along the A356 out of Torre Del Mar, past the shimmering water of Lake Vinuela and you’ll arrive in the beautifully located small town of Riogordo. Flanked on three sides by mountains, this town is steeped in traditions and history as well as being steep. This inland municipality is an important part of the Ruta del Aceite y de los Montes, the mountains and olive groves route. Meandering through its narrow cobblestone streets, you will be transported to a different time and era. An ancient town, it was an important Arabic settlement and there is still evidence of its Moorish origins. In fact, Riogordo has its origins even further back in history and there are remains of both prehistoric and Roman culture. The Valle de Auta is worth visiting as here are the Roman ruins, located near the Borbollón natural spring. However, the most impressive buildings are the various churches including the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Gracia, built in the late 15th century. With its basilica floor plan and naves divided by semi-circular arches, this is a beautiful and serene place. In total, there are 13 chapels in this small town and it is no surprise that even the festivals have a religious background. In Semana Santa, or Holy Week, there is an enactment of El Paso (Episode of the Passion of the Christ). Here, locals enact the life, passion and death of Christ and their performances have won acclaim from both local and national tourism awards. Other festivals include the original Feria de Mayo (May Festival), also known as Veladilla (little soiree). It opens with a traditional cattle fair. However during the festival, the Día del Caracol (Snail Day) is celebrated, which includes tasting snails in broth, a local delicacy as well as live music and dancing. In August, the Río del Cante flamenco festival is held. Then, in September is the evocative and moving Fiesta del Candil (Oil Lamp Festival), otherwise known as Noche de las Candelas or Night of the Candles. 

Local dishes such as Caracoles en caldo (Snails in broth) 

The most notable local dish in Riogordo is caracoles en caldo (snails in broth) eaten in season as well as during the Feria de Mayo. Other typical dishes include migas (pieces of toasted bread with pork cuts) and a range of hearty soups: porra campesina (cold creamy soup made with tomato, garlic, peppers and oil), gazpacho de habas verdes (gazpacho with broad beans, fennel, peppers, tomato, onion and bread) and gazpacho de pimentón (a variation on the standard gazpacho recipe with tomato, peppers, garlic, oil and bread). These specialities are prepared with another local favourite: verdial olive oil which gives recipes a richness and depth. There is an abundance of locally grown vegetables that give these dishes a truly local flavour.

Aside from this, there are two other unusual eating options in the town of Riogordo. Bar Familia offers English food including a highly rated fish and chips special Whilst, just on the outskirts of town, in an old cortijo complete with a place to tie up your horse is Cortijo Veleta which offers high end and innovative cuisine at completely affordable prices. Both restaurants have the added bonus of live entertainment too. 

Beyond the town, Riogordo is set in beautiful scenery that demands exploring. Several hiking routes of various degrees of difficulty lead out from the town and are well marked. These hiking routes offer an excellent opportunity to explore and enjoy the area surrounding Riogordo with the combination of natural landscape and traditional rural life. One route trails along La Cueva river, passing old flour mills and reminding the visitor of the long and varied past of this region. Another route heads to the Sierra del Rey and its dense and verdant forest. This is the home to mountain goats and genets. For the more ambitious hiker, the Gómer, Doña Ana and Fraile gorges are rocky elevations with spectacular views of the surrounding area. Whichever route you decide to choose, you’ll not be disappointed, though remember that summer temperatures are excessive during the middle of the day so perhaps consider carefully when to hike. Riogordo offers a different experience in Axarquía from the usual seaside and coastal one. Here the emphasis is on the outdoors, agriculture and natural beauty.