Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Sierra de Yeguas on the olive trees, amidst the olive trees, for the olive trees. Sierra de Yeguas: a living flat layout. Sierra de Yeguas: talkative mountain people. Sierra de Yeguas: asparagus and corn. Sierra de Yeguas: a hard-working farming town. Sierra de Yeguas: chosen the Romans as transit land and now a moveable border between Seville’s meadows and Málaga’s coastland. Sierra de Yeguas: a town to walk around, stroll in, enjoy calmly. Sierras de Yeguas: a town to be discovered.

Coming Close

Red earth, large fields, boundless olive orchards beyond the horizon. The persistent sound of the cicadas is the only soundtrack I can hear. There’s the countryside all around. Border landscapes and new experiences. Fields full of olive trees. No beaches and no mountains. Málaga gets richer with such views. The attraction here is the difference it makes, the vastness meeting the eye. The plains of Navahermosa are dead flat. An area to gaze at in brave delight. Imagining the roads being trodden upon by Roman troops or by wagons carrying goods from Seville to Málaga or vice versa –impassive landscapes in the background– can make your hair stand on end. You can easily fancy a glorious past of fluttering flags. Archaeological remains speak of Roman villas and thermal baths. Now this is a farming area, and “the fat of the land” is so valuable that it has come under the Environmental Protection Plan of the Málaga Government. Sierra de Yeguas bears no connection to the region’s common Arab roots, so strongly reflected in the culture and architecture of so many villages. There’re Neolithic and Roman traces, but no sign of the Moors. In fact, this contrast between Sierra de Yeguas and other towns in the region makes it even more attractive. It rather looks like a Castilian village. Country roads and trails that seem to have been drawn with a square or a triangle. Lots of cortijos, both dilapidated and brand-new. Olive trees, and olive trees, and olive trees. New windmills brandishing their white blades as if they’d been taken out of Cervantes’s Don Quixote. This is what you can find on the outskirts of Sierra de Yeguas, which is also a haven for cyclists and hikers.


The Sierra de Yeguas Town Hall website contains a downloadable PDF file displaying three of the main hiking routes starting in the town centre. “Ruta de Los Cortijos” (13.2km, easy) leads to “El Concejil,” “Cortijo de la Mezquita,” “Las Flores,” and “La Quinta” along mildly undulating trails. “Ruta de los Flamencos” (12.5km, easy) takes you to the viewpoint of the Cantarranas lake, where you’ll get different views of the nearby Fuente de Piedra lake, close to the Roman thermal baths of the third century A.D. Along this route, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll spot flying pink flamingos and other water birds in the spring and fall seasons. Finally, “Ruta de los Cultivos” (11.3km, easy) brings hikers to the plains of Navahermosa amidst the fields sown with wheat, corn, asparagus, and olives. These routes are also suitable for mountain biking. They give visitors a glimpse of the essence of Sierra de Yegua, with its deeply-rooted farming character.

The Town Centre

Following directions, I came to the town centre. It’s impossible to get lost here. Sierra de Yeguas’s layout is flat and straight, free of the hidden corners and winding alleys you can find in other Andalusian towns, so finding your way around is an easy task. And so is parking your car. I parked in Plaza de Andalucía, a welcoming, shady place that is full of inviting trees. This square dominates life in town: the Town Hall, the church opposite, coffee bars, restaurants, shops…

The Parish Church of Inmaculada Concepción

When I entered the Renaissance-style Parish Church of Inmaculada Concepción, I remembered a funny story I’d read. The Marquis of Estepa had the church built in 1559, and in 1578 it was designated as a parish church. Its baptismal font was added in 1592. In 1833, Sierra de Yeguas was transferred from the Council of Estepa to Málaga Province, but the church was only incorporated to the Málaga Bishopric in 1960. One of the reasons they give is that, as the Inmaculada Concepción belonged to the Vicariate of Estepa, it reported to Rome directly without the bishop’s intervention. The apparent simplicity of this temple stands in stark contrast to its elaborate altars. Carved in noble woods, excessively ornate, hanging from the spotless white walls to the sides of the central nave, their images give away the hands of skilful craftsmen. While I was watching them, a group of women came in to present saints with flower offerings. It
was nice and cool inside. For being such a small town, Sierra de Yeguas has two fraternities: Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and Santísimo Cristo de la Vera Cruz. Both of them have their processions in Easter.

The streets in town

Several streets to walk along begin at Plaza de la Constitución. Since Sierra de Yeguas lies in the plains next to the Seville meadows, most streets are flat and thus great for a stroll. No climbs here, at last. The houses make a fine sample of popular Andalusian architecture: small square or rectangular buildings featuring interior patios, window and door grilles, square terraces, and floor tiles coming right into the streets. Sierra de Yeguas spreads out, a hamlet projecting onto the endless olive orchards. I walked around and visited the market past the church: a porticoed square where you can buy vegetables, fish, pork products, delicatessen, meat, fruit, etc. in small yet well-supplied stalls. In Plaza de la Libertad there’s a street market on Thursdays. The square faces the exterior walls of the fraternities, whose frontages tell long stories. I walked on, mixing with local people. When the sun is overhead beating down on the city, they take shelter in Plaza de Andalucía. Seniors try to find a place in the shadow, wearing light-coloured shirts, and they move away from the sun as it comes higher in the sky.


On a corner in Plaza de la Libertad, near the church, I stumbled upon a bar, El Cañero. It was a typical tavern where patrons ordered tapas and small servings at noon. A busy place, with a small terrace outdoors and two tables inside. There were lots of things to taste: little squid, porra, tripe, giblets, bacon… All kinds of tapas and traditional servings. Following the waiter’s advice, I ordered 2 beers, 1 little squid tapa, 1 guarrito with quail eggs tapa. The bill = €2.40. I washed everything down with amiable chat and some jokes, feeling at home.


Going back to my car, I chose to return along the same road, which was somewhat longer and in poorer condition but cut across the red earth and olive orchards. I left a trail of dust behind so that it guided me back in when I visited Sierra de Yeguas again.

Travel Tips and Useful Links

What to do: 1. Hiking: If you’re hiking along any of the trails mentioned above, you’d better wear comfortable shoes and drink enough water. They’re easy, but in summer they’re really hot. Ask for further directions from locals before setting out. Bring binoculars, just in case you spot flamingos. The hiking PDF file can be downloaded at Hiking in Sierra de Yeguas. 2. Asparagus Fair: For foodies, April is the right month to visit Sierra de Yeguas, for the town holds its Asparagus Fair, serving over 6,000 kilos of asparagus to locals and out-of-towners alike.
Useful links: If you want to know more about Sierra de Yeguas’s history and everyday life, try these websites. Antonio Solís González’s blog contains a lot of information on this town’s history. Also, filmmaker Mari Quesada has a website where you can watch short films featuring Sierra de Yeguas. Federico Sánchez Torres recreates historical events in films and also some nature videos. Finally, there’s an interesting blog containing recipes from the sierras by the Rural Tourism Department of the Sierra de Yeguas Town Hall. For general information, you can always use the websites of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board, the Sierra de Yeguas Town Hall, and

Comments, suggestions, and opinions from travellers/ visitors to this blog are very welcome. This is intended to be an open door, so the more things shown and said, the better. See you under the Bright Blue Sky.