Surface Area: 147 square kilometres
What the natives are called: Mijeños
Monuments: the Virgen de la Peña (Virgin of the Rock) hermitage, Inmaculada Concepción church, Plaza de Toros (Bullring), Carromato de Max museum, Casa Museo (House Museum), Museo de las Torres Vigçías (Watch Towers Museum)
Geographical Location: in the western Costa del Sol region. The locality is some 430 metres above sea level and is 30 kilometres from the provincial capital and 8 from neighbouring Fuengirola. The municipality records an average rainfall of 660 litres per square metre and the average temperature is 17º C.
Tourist Information: Tourism Office, Plaza Virgen de la Peña, 2 (29650). Telephone: (+34) 952 58 90 34 Fax: (+34) 952 58 90 35 E-mail: [email protected]
The municipality of Mijas takes in all that country between the mountain range that gives it its name and the sea. The terrain thus ascends in a short distance and at times rather abruptly from sea level on the coast to the highest peak in the territory (1,130 metres). The ravines, peaks and more or less gentle hills still have part of their indigenous vegetation despite the area’s spectacular urban development making it ever more difficult to maintain grazing lands and olive groves, which yield little income in this day and age.
Nevertheless, the rugged nature of the landscape and a certain respect for the surroundings have kept golf courses, brick and cement from hiding the natural beauty of this municipality, where the mountains and the village itself continue to be the main points of reference. The coastal zone, on the other hand, is practically urbanised from the boundary ofFuengirola to that of Marbella with the exception of a few rocky areas that remain intact.
This municipality, like others in the province of Málaga, has three centres of population. In this case they are Mijas Pueblo, Las Lagunas and Cala de Mijas. The first of these is a classic whitewashed Andalusian village of Moorish origin that contains the monuments and the administrative centre. Most of the municipal services and part of the building developments are in Las Lagunas while Cala de Mijas, squarely within the coastal zone, is completely given over to residential and beach tourism.
There are facts that confirm that Mijas used to belong to Turdetania while other traces attest to the presence of Greeks and Phoenicians, who set about exploiting the area’s mineral wealth. The first historic reference to the village, however, is by the geographer Ptolemy of the School of Alexandria, who must have been in these lands in the second century A. D. or gathered information from someone who knew them very well, judging by how exactly he describes some places.
The locality was called Tames during the Roman era, and there is every indication that it generated remarkable economic activity due to its proximity to the Apian Way that linked the cities of Cádiz and Málaga. The Arabs named it Mixa, from which the Christians derived the modern name of Mijas.
The Muslims took over the village very soon after landing on the Iberian Peninsular. They were already governing it in 714 and doing so quite profitably, since they permitted the inhabitants to continue to possess their property and practice their religion and customs in exchange for a certain percentage of the agricultural and livestock production.
The Muslims’ good relations with the Mozarabs were obvious in the time of the strongman Omar Ben Hafsún, with whom they maintained cordial and beneficial relations since they needed one another mutually. With the death of Omar Ben Hafsún, Abderramán III re-conquered the area.
Mijas resisted the attacks of the Christian army until the conquest of Málaga in 1487. When they learned of that city’s surrender the residents of Mijas decided that an unconditional surrender would be the best option. The emissaries that were sent to Málaga to carry out the surrender were taken prisoner and some were sold as slaves. In 1494 the municipality’s land was divided among Old Christians. The locality was granted the status of “villa” (royal burgh) in 1521 as a reward for their loyalty to Carlos I during the Comuneros rebellion and Juana la Loca also declared it to be exempt from payment of sales taxes (“alcabalas”).
Mijas was the scene centuries later of an important historical event that took place on 2 December 1831. General Torrijos landed on the beach of El Charcón with 52 companions. They went across the municipal territory towards the mountains, from which they came down toAlhaurín de la Torre to seek shelter in a mansion that belonged to the Count of Mollina. Days later, on 11 December, the general and his men were executed by firing squad on the beaches of San Andrés in the city of Málaga for having stood up the absolutism of Fernando VII.
How to Get There
You must take the Mediterranean Expressway (AP-7; N-340) from the Costa del Sol. If you leave Málaga going towards Cádiz once you are past Benalmádena you must take the A-368 (the signs are very clear) to Mijas. If you leave from Fuengirola in the direction of Málaga you must likewise take the Mediterranean Expressway and the A-387 to Mijas.