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Velez-Malaga is the administrative capital of the Axarquia region and a place that has a real mix of old and new. On one hand, in its more modern areas, it’s a busy working city, very Spanish, with limited tourist influence compared to Nerja, Torrox and Torre del Mar. The quieter and prettier parts however resonate with history, thanks in no small part to the role that the city played in the re-conquest of Andalusia and the expulsion of Muslim influence when it acted as a staging post for the capture of Malaga.
If you’ve passed Velez-Malaga or Velez as the locals refer to it on the motorway you may be questioning whether it’s large enough to be referred to as a city. Given that it’s nowhere near as large as Malaga or Granada it’s a reasonable question, however officially Velez has been a city since 1487 when the Catholic monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon laid siege to it, eventually removing its Moorish rulers from power.
Although a number of civilisations have played their part in the history of Velez-Malaga, with archaeological evidence of both Roman and Phoenician settlements in the Municipality, the true roots of the city are undoubtedly Moorish. Dating from the 10th century the city was originally named Ballix Malica. By far its prettiest area is ‘Arrabal de San Sebastian’, the oldest part of the city, which sits on a hill top overlooking the streets and home to some of its most interesting historical attractions. In this neighbourhood you’ll find the 16m high defensive tower dating from the 13th century as well as the 15th century church of San Juan Bautista and the Marquises of Beniel palace. These are just three of the places to visit in Velez-Malaga, which boasts a number of monasteries , churches and chapels which led to the city being designated a ‘Historic-Artistic Complex’ in 1970 although the fact that it even gets mentioned in the famous book ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha’ surely didn’t hinder it.
The municipality of Velez-Malaga, within which lies the city of the same name, takes up one seventh of the entire Axarquia region and includes a number of smaller towns including Benajarafe, Triana, Trapiche, Almayate amongst others.