Atajate is an extremely pretty, tiny white village lying between the Guadiaro and Genal valleys, 17 kilometres from Ronda.
Surrounded by countryside dotted with olive trees, vineyards and wheat fields, as well as cork and oak trees, Atajate is the ideal spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the Costa del Sol. In fact Atajate has the distinction of being the smallest municipality in Málaga province, with less than 200 residents.
The origins of the village are Moorish, although the remains of primitive axes found in nearby caves, and the discovery of Roman coins and pieces of pottery, indicate the area was populated much further back in history.
The Moors are believed to have built their settlement on the rocky Los Tajos hill, where a castle and fortifications were later added in view of the village’s frontier position between the Moorish kingdoms of Seville and Granada. Atajate also played an important role in the struggles between Moors and Christians due to its strategic location between Ronda and Gaucín.
Nothing remains of the castle, but part of the walls of the old 16th century parish church can still be seen on top of the hill, as well as ruins of houses; the village was destroyed by Napoleonic troops during the War of Independence in 1810 and later became a refuge for bandits.
There are also the remains of an old defence tower on an elevated area known as Santa Cruz, from where there are superb views of the surrounding mountains.
The San José Parish Church in the centre of the village dates from the 18th century, but was rebuilt in the 19th century. At this time the village was relatively prosperous due to the local wine industry, but after the vines were killed off by filoxera at the end of the 1800s many people emigrated, and a good number tried to establish a new life in Argentina. Those who stayed behind switched to the cultivation of olives and livestock farming, although in more recent years wine production has been reintroduced and an annual grapejuice fiesta has been celebrated every November for the last decade.
The nearby Los Tajos caverns are worth a visit, if only for the views right across the
Ronda mountains and the Genal Valley, and on a clear day, to the distant Rif mountains in North Africa.
Village people have kept the local crafts alive, and visitors can buy items such as baskets, espadrilles and chair seats made in the traditional way.