Situated in “La Sierra de Líbar” and with a very uneven orography, Benaojan invites travelers to embark on a journey through its rich history and captivating landscapes. This idyllic town, with its white-washed houses and cobblestone streets, exudes an undeniable Andalusian charm. As you explore its winding alleys, you’ll be transported to a world where time seems to stand still, and the rhythm of life is set by the tranquil flow of the Guadiaro River. Benaojan is the perfect starting point for a captivating adventure that will unveil its storied past, scenic wonders, and culinary delights.
History of Benaojan
Evidence of its ancient roots can be traced back to prehistoric times, with the renowned “Cueva de la Pileta” standing as a testament to human habitation in the area. This cave, declared a National Monument in 1924, houses remarkable cave paintings and Paleolithic artifacts, offering a glimpse into the lives of early inhabitants.
Throughout the ages, Benaojan witnessed the ebb and flow of various civilizations. Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, and Christians all left their indelible marks on this land. The “Cueva del Gato,” a favorite among potholing enthusiasts, continues to reveal secrets of the past. Notably, “La Torre del Moro,” an Arabic construction that still stands today near the railway station, serves as a reminder of the town’s diverse cultural heritage. Benaojan’s name, rooted in its Arabic origins, is a testament to its rich history, founded by a Berber tribe that settled in this captivating region.
Places to visit
This picturesque town offers a glimpse into its rich cultural and natural heritage through a range of must-visit attractions. Let’s explore some of the enchanting places you can discover in Benaojan:
In 1905, a local farmer in search of guano to fertilize his fields, stumbled upon a remarkable discovery that would change the course of history. As he ventured into “La Cueva de la Pileta,” he encountered prehistoric paintings of animals, symbols, and enigmatic figures that left him awe-struck. This cave, with over 20,000 years of history, stands as one of the finest examples of Andalusian cave art.
Within its depths, you can marvel at depictions of deer, horses, fish, goats, bulls, seals, bison, and more, alongside abstract symbols and indeterminate figures. In recognition of its significance, the cave was declared a National Monument of Rock Art in 1924.
Visitors can explore this treasure with the guidance of knowledgeable experts, offering insights into its history and intriguing secrets. Tours typically last about an hour and accommodate groups of up to 25 people. Advance reservations, either by phone or online, are necessary to embark on this captivating journey.
The “Cueva del Gato” is a breathtaking masterpiece of nature. It marks the endpoint of an underground system stretching over 9,000 meters, where the Guadares or Gaduares River seeps and traverses a labyrinth of chambers, lakes, and siphons.
The cave’s entrance, resembling the eye of a cat, is the culmination of a stunning 170-meter waterfall cascading from above. Within its depths, the cave houses a diverse array of wildlife and flora, as well as ancient cave paintings and archaeological remnants. As part of the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, an ecologically and scenically protected area, the surroundings offer opportunities for birdwatching, with species like griffon vultures, Bonelli’s eagles, peregrine falcons, otters, Egyptian mongooses, and wild boars.
While “Cueva del Gato” is a cherished destination for spelunkers and adventure enthusiasts, it’s crucial to note that it can be hazardous, particularly during heavy rains that may cause sudden flooding. Therefore, entry should only be attempted with the necessary permits and appropriate equipment.
This cave had a connection to the Andalusian banditry of the 19th century and served as a refuge for the famous bandits who would rob travelers in the mountain ranges of the region. Some of these bandits were known as ‘The Seven Children of Écija,’ ‘El Tempranillo,’ or ‘El Tragabuches.’ Hence, the ‘Cueva del Gato’ was linked to these historical figures and their criminal activities in the area.
Just a short distance from the village, approximately 2 kilometers away, lies the “Nacimiento de Benaojan”. This natural wonder serves as a point of emergence for the Sierra de Líbar’s underground waters, creating a serene lagoon nestled amidst the rocky terrain.
The water is remarkably clear and cold, maintaining a constant temperature of around 14 degrees Celsius. Accessible via a well-marked trail starting from the Benaojan train Station, the path offers scenic vistas of the landscape and the Guadiaro River. The “Nacimiento de Benaojan” presents an ideal setting for nature lovers seeking respite from the summer heat. Visitors can swim in the lagoon, enjoy a leisurely picnic on the grassy banks, or simply bask in the beauty of the surroundings while listening to the soothing sounds of the waterfall.
Dating back to the time of Moorish rule, this tower served as both a watchful eye over the Guadiaro Valley and a refuge for the inhabitants of the nearby hamlet, Sexima.
With a unique and somewhat precarious design, only a fragment of its original walls remains. Yet, within those weathered stones lie innumerable stories, secrets that have been locked away for centuries. Imagine the mysteries that this abandoned tower has witnessed, the echoes of its past reverberating through time.
As one of the village’s enduring symbols, the Torre del Moro has borne witness to the ebb and flow of cultures and the turning of the ages. Its silent presence invites contemplation of the countless events and legends that have unfolded within its ancient walls.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or simply looking to enjoy the great outdoors, Benaojan promises scenic beauty, rich biodiversity, and a chance to reconnect with nature. Join us as we embark on a journey through the picturesque landscapes and winding paths that make Benaojan a hiking paradise.
Benaojan to Cueva del Gato:
- Distance: Approximately 6 kilometers (round trip).
- Duration: About 2 hours.
- Trail: SL-A 139.
- Description: This beautiful and easy trail starts from Benaojan’s train station, leading you along the Guadiaro River valley through lush orchards and riverside forests. It culminates at the awe-inspiring entrance of Cueva del Gato, resembling a cat’s eye, the endpoint of an underground system originating at Cueva del Hundidero. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear lagoon or have a picnic amidst the natural surroundings.
Benaojan to Montejaque via Nacimiento de los Cascajales and Cueva del Gato:
- Distance: Approximately 10 kilometers.
- Duration: Around 3 hours.
- Description: Embark on a fascinating and moderately challenging circular route starting in Benaojan. Ascend via a trail to Nacimiento de los Cascajales, a spring that forms a pristine lagoon. Descend along a path to the captivating Cueva del Gato, where you can refresh or marvel at the geological formations. Continue on trail SL-A 139 to Benaojan’s train station and return to the village via an asphalt road.
To Pico Ventana via Sierra de Juan Diego and Montejaque:
- Distance: Approximately 21 kilometers.
- Duration: About 6 hours.
- Description: For those seeking a more demanding and challenging hike, this circular route begins in Benaojan. Ascend through a trail to Puerto del Correo, where you’ll then follow a detour to Pico Ventana, standing at 1,298 meters and offering spectacular views of the Serranía de Ronda. Descend through Sierra de Juan Diego to the charming white village of Montejaque. Return to Benaojan via an asphalt road.
Fairs and festivities
San Marcos Fair
The San Marcos Fair, held on April 25th, marks a prominent patronal celebration that extends over three vibrant days. This event is steeped in devotion and community spirit. The highlight of the fair is the procession of the revered image of San Marcos, accompanied by a resounding display of fireworks. Festivities also include colorful parades, musical performances, engaging contests, and delightful gastronomic tastings.
When: April 25th.
On October 7th, Benaojan comes alive to celebrate the Our Lady of the Rosary Fair, dedicated to the patron saint of the village. The town’s streets become the stage for lively parades and captivating performances in the central square. The evening takes on a festive atmosphere with traditional open-air dances and music, creating a memorable experience for all. A procession through the village with the image of the Virgin adds a touch of reverence to this joyful occasion.
When: October 7th.
Mosto and Chacina Day
The first Sunday of December brings a gastronomic extravaganza known as Mosto and Chacina Day. This culinary celebration offers a delectable taste of the region’s culinary heritage. Visitors and locals alike gather to savor the village’s typical products, including mosto, a young wine crafted from locally grown grapes, and chacina, flavorful pork-based sausages. The festivities also feature a cultural dimension with exhibitions, workshops, and live concerts, making it a well-rounded and memorable event for all.
When: First Sunday of December
The gastronomy of Benaojan is a flavorful tapestry that draws from the region’s rich agricultural traditions, particularly focusing on pork products and nuts. Let’s take a delightful tour through some of the local specialties awaiting your palate in this picturesque village of Malaga:
- Lomo en Manteca (Pork Loin in Lard):
A quintessential dish, Lomo en Manteca, features succulent pork loin marinated with aromatic spices and gently fried in lard. Served in generous slices, it pairs wonderfully with freshly baked bread or crispy fried potatoes. It’s a flavorful introduction to the village’s culinary heritage.
- Chorizos al Vino (Chorizo Sausages in Red Wine):
These hearty pork sausages simmer in red wine with garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Intensely flavorful and aromatic, perfect solo or with bread.
- Gazpacho Caliente (Hot Gazpacho):
A heartier take on the traditional cold version. It’s a thick soup made with bread, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and more. Perfect for chilly days, it’s garnished with eggs, ham, and chorizo.
- Conejo al Ajillo (Rabbit in Garlic Sauce):
A simple but exquisite dish, tender rabbit pieces are cooked with garlic, olive oil, white wine, and parsley.
How to get to Benaojan
When it comes to reaching Benaojan from Málaga, there are alternative modes of transportation to consider aside from the road. Let’s explore some of these convenient options:
If you do not own a car, you can rent a car in Malaga from our website.
- Depart from Málaga on the A-357, heading towards Cártama and Campillos.
- Stay on the A-357 until you reach the exit for the A-367, signposted for Ronda and Ardales.
- Continue along the A-367 until you arrive in Ronda, where you will take the exit onto the A-374, marked for Sevilla and Algodonales.
- Follow the A-374 until you reach the junction with the MA-7401, which indicates Benaojan and Montejaque.
- Make a left turn onto the MA-7401 and continue until you arrive in Benaojan.
Start your adventure by boarding a train at Malaga María Zambrano Station. Travel to Antequera-Santa Ana Station, where you’ll make a seamless transfer to the train bound for Benaojan-Montejaque Station.
This train journey offers a scenic route through the countryside, with a duration of approximately two and a half hours. Ticket prices typically range from 17 to 43 euros, making it a comfortable and cost-effective choice.
Opt for a relaxed bus journey by taking a bus from Málaga to Ronda Station. From Ronda, you can conveniently catch another bus to Benaojan or choose the option of a taxi ride.
The bus route offers a glimpse of the picturesque landscapes along the way, with a total travel time of around three and a half hours. Tickets generally cost between 12 to 24 euros, providing an economical travel alternative.
The taxi transfer from Malaga offers a swift and comfortable ride, taking approximately two hours to reach your destination.
Whichever mode of transportation you choose, Benaojan is waiting to welcome you with its charm and cultural richness. Whether you opt for the scenic train ride, the relaxed bus journey, or the convenience of a taxi, your adventure to this enchanting village promises to be memorable.