Comares Comares is a Moorish village located on the border between the region of Axarquía and the Montes de Málaga. It is known as the “Balcony of the Axarquía” because of its privileged position on a mountain top (703 metres above sea level). The village is located only about 20 kilometers from our house “Cortijo Los Capitos”.
Its labyrinth-like streets and its architecture, a reflection of its Moorish roots, are the most characteristic features of its urban landscape. The Ruta de la Pasa (Route of the Raisin) should not be missed. This village is also the birthplace of verdiales, a particular style of folk song in the villages of Malaga and which carries the name of the village.
The Comares Castle and the Aljibe de Mazmúllar form part of the rich heritage left by the Arabs in this village of Axarquía. The fortress still preserves two of its turrets and part of the ancient wall, which is known as La Tahona. The well, built during the 13th century, was declared a national Historical-Artistic Monument.
The Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación is another one of the main architectural features of Comares. This Mudejar-style church is located at the highest part of the village. It was built during the 16th century, although the Sagrario chapel was added at a later date. It has three naves and its distinctive features include its Mozarabic tower.
Due to its geographic location, Comares was a key village in the times of the Arabs. But it was founded much earlier, in the seventh century B.C., by the Greeks from Focea reaching Málaga and Torre del Mar, who called it “Komaron”, meaning “land of strawberry trees”. The village”s layout, as it has come down to us, is an Arab legacy.
The Romans saw the advantages of this area in Axarquía, using it as a vantage point and even probably setting up a fortress. The Comares Castle was one of the main defensive bulwarks in Arab times, together with the castles in Zalía and Bentomiz. Designed as a square fortress, it held as many as 15,000 people.
Al-Andalus is present in today”s Comares in the city layout, specific traces and local customs. In those times, Comares used to be called “Hins Comarix”, meaning “high castle”. The keys to the village where handed in to the Catholic Monarchs in 1487, after it surrendered to the Christian troops – a fact depicted in the choir stalls of the Toledo Cathedral.
The 30 Muslim families who stayed in Comares after the Reconquista converted to Christianity. A mass christening ceremony was held in Calle del Perdón. In the sixteenth century, the Arab descents joined in the Moorish riots that rose in Axarquía. They were crushed and expelled, and people from other areas came to settle in Comares.
The town”s coat of arms mirrors the history of its marquises, beginning with Diego Fernández de Córdoba. He got his nobility title from the Catholic Monarchs, as a reward for the role he played when Boabdil was taken prisoner. Currently, the Duchess of Medinaceli is the 17th Marquise of Comares.
The calendar of events in Comares begins in January with the fiesta de San Hilario de Poitiers. This festivity, which has been granted a Provincial Tourism Award for being of Particular Interest, consists of a procession by the patron saint of the village, accompanied by verdiales dances and songs. At midday residents and visitors alike can enjoy a lunch and in the evening the fun begins with the local open-air dance.
The Comares Fair is held in August, which is enjoyed by the entire village. It begins with the traditional firework display and then the fun begins, which is guaranteed to get everyone enjoying themselves. Open-air dances, concerts, horse racing and sports competitions complete the programme of activities.
Other events of interest are the Feria de los Ventorros which is held in July and the Feria de las Cuevas, held in August.
Some of the most representative dishes of Comares are its gazpachuelo (a hake and potato soup made with vinegar and mayonnaise), the sopa de puchero (a stew with chickpeas, vegetables and meat) and chivo, or young goat, used in a number of typical dishes of the region. However the culinary specialities also include maimones (similar to garlic soup), migas (small chunks of toasted bread combined with pork derivatives and vegetables), tomato soup and the famous plato de los Montes (fried egg, potatoes, green pepper, chorizo and pork loin). And of course all these dishes have to be paired with local wines made using traditional methods.