Villanueva del Trabuco is an appealing little town at the foot of the Gorda and San Jorge sierras, surrounded by wheat fields and olive groves.
Just 45 kilometres from Málaga city and the Costa del Sol and 34 kilometres from Antequera, this town of around 5,000 people is easily accessible from the main highway running between the provincial capital and inland northern Andalucía.And the good communications is just one reason why families from nearby cities and northern Europeans have decided to set up home in Villanueva del Trabuco in recent years.
Then there’s the attraction of the town itself, particularly the older parts such as los Villares, with its steep, winding streets and whitewashed houses with terraces and balconies adorned with brightly coloured flowers.
There is evidence of settlements in the area as far back as prehistoric times, but although both the Romans and theVisigoths had a presence in the municipality, it was only sparsely populated for centuries afterwards these periods.
The area covered by the existing municipality was under the administration of Antequera until 1808, but in the early 1700s Carlos III decided to repopulate parts of Andalucía where the land was unworked. Local Spaniards weren’t interested in moving to an area they regarded as unsafe and too far from inhabited areas, so German and Flemish settlers were brought in and the town was one of four ‘Villanuevas’ in the north eastern part of Málaga province which were officially founded at around the same time.
The Plaza del Prado is the town’s commercial and social hub.The Tres Caños fountain is in the centre of the square, through which pure spring water flows, even in the middle of summer.
The town’s most important historic building is the Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Parish Church, which was built at the end of the 18th century and restored in the 1950s. Its white tower is visible from just about anywhere in the town.
There are also several hermitages in Villanueva del Trabuco.The Virgen del Puente hermitage, located between the Plaza del Prado and the bridge over the river Guadalhorce, houses the image of the Virgen de los Dolores. More than a century old, the image had to be hidden during the Civil War so it wouldn’t be burned. The image was recently restored.
The San Antonio hermitage was built in the 1980s by one of the town’s mayors, José Antonio Arjona, in memory of his grandfather, Antoñico Rosa, and is the focus of the fiestas in honour of San Antonio de Padua on June 13. The Virgen del Pilar hermitage on the Moheda area of the municipality near the Alazores road is also fairly modern.
A romería (pilgrimage) on May 15 in honour of San Isidro focuses on the hermitage of the same name in las Beatas, a few kilometres from the town. In Los Morales just outside the town there is the small San Juan and Carmen hermitage, with altars to both saints.
Also of interest are the ‘caz’, or irrigation channels. Built in the 19th century, the eight channels took water from the Guadalhorce river to the various oil and flour mills in the village via aquaducts. Remains of the caz can be seen at a number of farmhouses: Prevenio, Maletas, Huerto del Viejo, La Fábrica and El Molinillo.
At cortijo San Antonio Jabonero one can still see the irrigation channel which carried water from the river to a stone structure and through a hole which generated a sufficiently strong stream to move the mill stones.There is also a monument to the irrigation channels in the village square in the form of an attractive fountain.
Villanueva del Trabuco is a good base for walking, particularly along the banks of the rivers Guadalhorce and Higueral and up in the sierras. A popular starting point for walks or to enjoy a picnic is the Fuente de los Cien Caños a few kilometres outside the town, a spring believed to be the source of the river Guadalhorce and where water flows through dozens of spouts.