Are you planning to visit Andalusia and want to immerse yourself in its history and culture? On this occasion, we will tell you about the era of the bandits. A period of time that spans from the late 18th century to the early 20th century that left us with countless stories and legends.
It is possible to tour Malaga and get to know some of the towns where the popular bandits gained the most renown. While some bandits were bloodthirsty and evil, others enjoyed popular affection for only stealing from the rich and sometimes even sharing with the poor.
The practice of banditry in Andalusia dates back practically to Antiquity. This is due to the Andalusian orography. Sierra Morena, Despeñaperros, and Serranía de Ronda are examples. It is also due to different socioeconomic conditions that occurred throughout the centuries.
The bandits era
The bandits era was a period of social unrest and violence that affected Andalusia between the late 18th century and the mid-19th century. Several factors such as poverty, inequality, political instability, corruption, repression and war caused it.
Many people resorted to banditry as a way of survival or rebellion against injustice. Some bandits organized themselves into groups or gangs that operated in rural areas or mountains. They attacked travelers, merchants, landlords or authorities. They also extorted money from villages or estates under their control.
Some bandits became legends or heroes for their deeds or personalities. They inspired songs, stories or plays that romanticized their lives. Some examples are Diego Corrientes Mateos (the Andalusian Robin Hood), Luis Candelas (the Madrid Bandit) or Juan Caballero (the Valencian Bandit).
The bandits era ended with the progressive modernization of society and law enforcement that reduced their opportunities and power.
Andalusia was one of the notorious bandit areas of Europe, where encounters with latter-day Robin Hoods added drama to the romantic landscape. The remote mountainsides around La Alpujarra, Serrania de Ronda and Sierra Morena provided shelter for these desperados.
El Tempranillo was a famous 19th century bandit who operated in Andalusia. Born in Jauja in 1805 as José María Hinojosa Cobacho, El Tempranillo was a famous bandit who operated in Andalusia during the 19th century. He became a bandit at a young age after killing a man who had insulted his mother. His generosity, courage and charisma earned him fame and respect. He was known as “the King of Sierra Morena” and “the Gentleman Bandit”. He robbed from the rich and helped the poor, gaining the sympathy of many people.
In 1832 he married María Jerónima Francés and had a son with her. He also had several lovers and illegitimate children. He was involved in several conflicts with other bandits, such as El Barberillo, El Tragabuches and El Lero.
In 1832 he made a deal with King Ferdinand VII to stop his criminal activities in exchange for a pardon, money and land. He also became an officer of the Royalist Volunteers, a militia that fought against liberal rebels. However, this decision made him lose popularity among his former comrades and enemies.
“El Barberillo” (another bandit) set up an ambush for him and shot him near Alameda on September 22nd 1833. He was buried in Alameda’s Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The tomb of the most famous Andalusian bandit, Jose Maria el Tempranillo, is located in Alameda. The Tempranillo Route Foundation offers the possibility of delving into the adventures of this myth. Places of interest close to Ruta del Tempranillo (Alameda, Benamejí, Palenciana, Jauja, Badolatosa y Casariche)
Andalusian Robin Hood
Diego Corrientes Mateos was a famous bandit from Andalusia, Spain. He was born in 1757 in Utrera and died in 1781 in Seville. He occupies a prominent place in the history of Spanish banditry. His exploits lasted only about five years. He was executed at only twenty-three years of age. Popular imagination and legend have filled his life with novelistic episodes. They highlight his rebellion and generosity. He shared with the poorest the product of his robberies. This earned him the respect of the people.
Diego Corrientes was born into a humble family of agricultural laborers and was the fourth child of Diego Corrientes and Isabel Mateos. Not much is known about his childhood or the reasons why he turned to a life of crime. Around 1776 he began his criminal life as a highwayman and horse smuggler. He stole horses and transported them along the route of the Sierra Norte de Sevilla to the neighboring kingdom of Portugal for selling them.
A legend was born
This bandit became a popular legend due to his generosity. He robbed the rich and gave to the poor. This increased his esteem and protection in the surrounding areas. In 1780, King Carlos III ordered his capture. He fled to Portugal due to constant harassment by the authorities. He was captured in Covilhã and transferred to Seville. There he was tried and sentenced to death by hanging.
Songs, stories and plays have romanticized Diego Corrientes Mateos and made him a legendary figure in Spanish history. Following the custom of the time, they dismembered his body and distributed it among the places where his misdeeds were recorded. His head remained in Seville, where it was buried in the Parish Church of San Roque. (Map). This was the end of Diego Francisco Bernardo Corrientes Mateos, a bandit without blood crimes.
According to legend, this is the place where the famous bandit was hidden: https://goo.gl/maps/EQsrESZ3B8akpW868
The last bandit in Andalucia
Juan Mingolla Gallardo, also known as Pasos Largos, was a famous Andalusian bandit. He was the last to operate in the Serranía de Ronda. He was born on May 4th, 1873 in El Burgo and died on March 18th, 1934 in Sierra Blanquilla. Pasos Largos was the last of a lineage that included Tragabuches and El Tempranillo. A romantic aura surrounded the bandits and the citizenry considered them benefactors, especially in towns and places where they sought refuge.
On the day of his death, Pasos Largos had little of the supposed greatness attributed to the free spirits of the Ronda mountains. He had syncopated dialogues with his captors. According to a chronicle: “Pasos Largos, surrender and don’t be foolish,” to which he would have replied: “You will catch me dead, but not alive.”
Interesting areas to explore and hiking routes:
- Puerto del Viento: https://goo.gl/maps/DyQXD4VRLrtTmw6M8
- Fuensanta recreational area: https://goo.gl/maps/sLJET2Ms9y6MDUcS8
- El Burgo: https://goo.gl/maps/4URG8U7id5SACVp66
- Old trail from Ronda to El Burgo: https://goo.gl/maps/Ho3gKnZFFxqt2uNa6
- Chorrero Cave: Probably used by this or other bandits at https://goo.gl/maps/gkYvcbW3wa2DytDx8
- Cuevas del Becerro: https://goo.gl/maps/awtjABUcJcBxiYvF7
- Old abandoned Country house: https://goo.gl/maps/5VmLnvkiVK3qsS1PA
- Last prison where he was convicted: https://goo.gl/maps/qWsGTQPwX5e69mnu8
There are many more famous bandits and stories about them in Andalucia. Let us know your interest on this topic so we can extend the information about them in this article.
Some of the most populars bandits in Andalucia:
- Diego Corrientes Mateos
- José Ulloa “Tragabuches”
- José María Hinojosa, “El Tempranillo”
- Juan José Mingolla, “Pasos largos”
- Francisco Antonio Jiménez Ledesma, “El barquero de Cantillana”
- Juan Caballero “El Lero”
- Joaquín Camargo Gómez, “El Vivillo”
- Flores Arrocha
In Andalusia, there are routes that follow the trails of the most famous bandits. Along these routes, you will journey through remote mountainsides such as La Alpujarra, Serranía de Ronda and Sierra Morena where these bandits found shelter. As you explore these areas, who knows what surprises you could discover!
- La Alpujarra
- Serrania de Ronda
- Sierra Morena
- Sierra Blanquilla
More about this topic
If you want to learn more about this topic, you can visit the Bandit Museum el Borge, Malaga. If you are learning Spanish or have enough knowledge to read a book and enjoy this topic, you can try reading “The romantic myth of the Andalusian bandit”, that you can find for free here in PDF.
Location of the Bandit Museum in El Borge: https://goo.gl/maps/Z5kMz2SsvmKCDhE48
Wondering about the benefits of Malaga car hire? You can get to the Bandits Museum in less than 1 hour:
To drive to El Borge, you can take the Ma-20 and E-15 roads. The distance is approximately 56.5 kilometers and it takes about 53 minutes to get there without traffic. the route takes you through the beautiful Andalusian countryside, so there will be plenty of scenic views to enjoy along the way.