If you are looking for a charming and historical place to visit in Andalusia, you should consider Archidona. This city and municipality in the province of Málaga has a rich heritage that dates back to ancient times. It was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1980.
One of the most striking features of Archidona is its octagonal Plaza Ochavada, a unique example of Baroque architecture in Spain. You can also admire its Arab castle, which dominates the landscape from the top of Sierra de Gracia. There you will find the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, patron saint of the city.
Archidona offers many attractions for visitors who want to enjoy its culture, nature and gastronomy. You can explore its churches and convents, taste its typical dishes like porra archidonesa or molletes, join its festivals like the May Crosses or the Living Nativity Scene, or hike along its beautiful trails. Archidona is only 54 km away from Málaga capital, so you can easily access it by renting a car and discovering its surroundings.
Archidona has a long and fascinating history that goes back to ancient times. It was inhabited by Iberians, Romans and Visigoths, but it reached its peak of splendor under the Muslim rule. It was called Medina Arxiduna and it was the capital of the Cora of Rayya, which included most of the current province of Málaga. In its fortress, Abderramán I was proclaimed emir in 756, starting the independent Emirate of Córdoba.
Archidona resisted several Christian attempts to conquer it until 1462, when it surrendered to King Henry IV of Castile. It suffered a great depopulation and decay after the expulsion of the Moriscos in 1614. It recovered its vitality in the 18th century with the construction of new buildings and monuments, such as the octagonal Plaza Ochavada or the Convent of Santo Domingo.
Archidona became a city in 1901 by royal decree of Alfonso XIII. It was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1980 for its rich heritage and beauty. Today, Archidona preserves its historical legacy and welcomes visitors who want to discover its charms and secrets.
Places to visit
Archidona not only has a fascinating history, but also a great variety of places to visit and enjoy. From historical and artistic monuments to natural and cultural spaces, Archidona offers options for all tastes and ages. Some of the places you can’t miss are:
- The Plaza Ochavada: a unique square in Spain for its octagonal shape and its baroque style. It is the nerve centre of the city and houses the town hall and several bars and restaurants. (Map)
- Castle and the Walled Enclosure: the remains of the ancient Arab fortress that crown the Sierra de Gracia. There you will also find the Chapel of Our Lady of Grace, patron saint of Archidona. (Map)
- Convent of Las Monjas Mínimas: a convent founded in 1664 by Franciscan sisters. You can visit its baroque church and buy their handmade sweets. (Mapa)
- Churches of Santa Ana and La Victoria: examples of religious architecture with different styles and periods. The first one is the oldest, from the 13th century (Map); the second one is the largest (Map), from the 18th century.
- Municipal Museum: a museum located in the old Pósito or Cilla, where grain was stored. It exhibits archaeological, ethnographic and historical pieces related to Archidona. (Map)
These are just some of the places you can visit in Archidona, but there are many more that will surprise you. What are you waiting for to discover them?
Fairs and festivities
If you are looking for a place where tradition and fun go hand in hand, Archidona is your destination. Throughout the year, this town celebrates several festivals that reflect its history, culture and identity. You will have the opportunity to enjoy music, dance, gastronomy and folklore in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Some of the festivals you should not miss are:
- The Candelaria: on February 2nd, people light bonfires in the streets and squares to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary. This festival has ancient roots and symbolises the renewal of life through fire.
- San Blas: on February 3rd, people honour Saint Blas, protector of throat diseases, by eating typical sweets called roscos de San Blas. They also wear blessed ribbons around their necks to ward off evil.
- Carnival: during this festive season, Archidona fills with colour and joy as people dress up in costumes and masks. There are parades, contests and dances that enliven the town.
- Easter: this religious celebration is one of the most important ones in Archidona. The processions of holy images are accompanied by bands of music and penitents. The most remarkable day is Good Friday when a silent procession takes place at night.
- May Crosses: around May 3rd, people decorate crosses with flowers and ornaments and display them in public places. There are also competitions for the best cross and musical performances.
- San Antonio: on June 13th, the neighbourhood of San Antonio celebrates its patron saint with a popular festival. There is a mass at his chapel (17th century) followed by a procession through the streets. There are also stalls with food and drinks, games and dances.
- San Aurelio: on July 27th, the hamlet of La Estación-La Romera honours its patron saint with a festival that includes a mass, a procession, a fairground and live music.
These are just some examples of the rich and varied festive calendar of Archidona. If you want to experience its charm and vitality first-hand, don’t hesitate to visit it during any of these occasions.
You can find more information and updates dates for those festivities at: https://www.archidona.es/5692/feria-y-fiestas
If you are looking for a unique and festive experience in the summer, you should not miss the August fair in Archidona. This is one of the most important and popular events in this town, which celebrates its patron saint, the Virgen de Gracia.
The fair begins on the night of August 14th with a nocturnal pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Virgen de Gracia, located on top of a hill overlooking Archidona. This is a singular tradition that attracts thousands of people from different places of Malaga province and beyond. The pilgrims walk with candles and lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere.
The fair continues until August 18th with various activities and attractions for all ages and tastes. You can enjoy live music, dancing, bullfights, horse shows, gastronomy, crafts and more. The fair ends with a spectacular firework display that lights up the sky.
The August fair in Archidona is a great opportunity to discover the culture and history of this town, as well as to have fun and meet new people. Don’t miss this chance to join one of the most original and lively celebrations in Andalusia!
Natural environment and hiking
Archidona has multiple trails that allow you to enjoy its different natural spaces, such as:
- The PR-A 157 Archidona – Hoz del Arroyo Marín trail, which is a circular route of about 14 km that takes you through a river canyon with stunning views and vegetation. (Map)
- The GR-249 trail, which is part of the Gran Senda de Málaga (Great Trail of Málaga), a long-distance route that connects different towns and landscapes of the province.
- The Sierra de Gracia trail, which is a short route of about 4 km that ascends to the top of the hill where you can see the remains of an ancient fortress and a sanctuary.
Archidona has several natural attractions, such as:
- Natural Reserve Lagunas de Archidona, which are the only karstic lagoons in Andalusia and which host a great variety of birds and plants.
- Periurban Park Sierra de Gracia, which is a protected natural area that offers magnificent views of the town and the region and that has trails and recreational areas. (Map)
- Natural Site Hoz del Arroyo Marín, which is a river canyon formed by the erosion of water on limestone and that has a great landscape and ecological beauty.
- The cave of Las Grajas is a karstic formation on the slope of a mountain that shares its name. The cave has an altitude of 775 meters above sea level and has a huge opening that enjoys natural light. It is a landmark of great scenic value and also has archaeological and historical interest. (Map)
Getting to Archidona
Archidona is located about 60 km north of Malaga, in the heart of Andalusia. If you are flying to Malaga airport, you have several options to reach this beautiful town. One of the most convenient and flexible ways is a car hire in Malaga and drive yourself. Book your car online from our website in advance and pick it up when you land.
To drive from Malaga airport to Archidona, you will need about 40 minutes. The route is simple and well signposted. You just have to follow these steps:
- Exit the airport and take the MA-20 motorway towards Antequera/Granada.
- After 12 km, merge onto the A-45 motorway towards Antequera/Córdoba/Sevilla/Granada.
- After 38 km, take exit 124 towards A-92M/Antequera/Granada/Almería.
- After 2 km, take exit 20 towards A-7200/Villanueva del Trabuco/Archidona.
- Follow the signs for Archidona until you reach your destination.
Driving a car will allow you to explore Archidona and its surroundings at your own pace. You will be able to visit other interesting places nearby such as Antequera, Loja or Iznájar. You will also enjoy the scenic views of the mountains and olive groves along the way.