Many years ago, a guide to Spain simply described Álora as a quaint little town with a big parking problem. Much of the parking problems have been overcome and it is now a bustling town with interesting narrow streets and well worth a visit. Located about 40km north west of Malaga, It is in 'The Valley of the Sun', in the Malaga Region of Andalucia. It nestles between two hills, on top of one is the remains of a Moorish castle, which dominates the town, the whole area being surrounded by spectacular mountains in the distance. The town is positioned at the narrowest point of the Guadalhorce valley, which elsewhere is otherwise wide and fertile, and in which the Guadalhorce river meanders down to the Mediterranean next to Málaga. The valley area is known for it's large crops of oranges and lemons, while in the higher areas olives and almonds are grown in abundance.
The Álora area has been lived in since prehistoric times for its commercial position by the Tartessos and by Phoenicians, who probably built the castle. Later the Romans restored the fortress and had a base there dating back to about 79 BC.
The fortress was enlarged by the Visigoths followed by the Moors, who conquered it early during their conquest of Spain. Álora became a stronghold of the rebellious arab Umar ibn Hafsun, a semi-independent Lord of Bobastro when the area was ruled by the Emirate of Córdoba. The Christians based in the north and central parts of Spain, attempted many times to take over the town, but it took them until 1484 to be successful. Álora enjoyed a considerable period of prosperity during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Apart from it's history and old-world charm and narrow streets, it is a thriving community with all the facilities you would expect from a modern day town. It boasts a large indoor sports centre, town swimming pools, football stadium, running track, tennis courts, theatre and entertainment centre, a number of churches (one with the second tallest tower in Andalucia), a good selection of shopping facilities including supermarkets, and a surprising large number of inexpensive taxis (tel: 952496424).
Álora is fortunate in having it's own railway station, with regular services to Malaga and has a connection to the line which calls at all the resorts, towns and beaches along the Costa del Sol as far as Fuengirola At the main station in Malaga is also the connection to the AVE - the high speed rail service to Cordoba, Madrid, Barcelona and beyond.
One of the most spectacular visitor attractions in the Alora area is the 'Caminito del Rey' pathway, sometimes called the eighth wonder of he world. It has a 1 metre wide walkway build onto a sheer vertical rock face and was originally use to carry equipment across a deep gorge to a hydroelectric power plant. It was completed in 1905 and opened by the King some years later, King Alfonso XIII walked the length of it - about 7 kilometres, some of which is via a wooded pathway. So the pathway is name 'El Caminito del Rey' (the pathway of the King). Over the years it fell into decay and was only accessible by the most daring of mountineers. Recently it has been completely renovated and is open to the public (it is necessary to buy a ticket as the number of users of the pathway is limited). From it there are spectacular views of the mountains either side of the gorge and the river way down below. Well worth a visit. This site gives more information - http://www.caminitodelrey.info/en/5106/discover-caminito
Picture above: The dangerous state the pathway got into over the years - a lot of it had fallen into the dam below. Lower picture: Some of the remaining parts of the old concrete pathway can be seen under the new pathway.