Colmenar town hall website describes the village, located to the north-west of the Axarquía and on the edge of the Montes de Málaga, as “a village with the taste of honey” and that is because ‘colmenar’ means apiary in Spanish.
In fact since 2009 the village has been home to the Museo de la Miel (honey museum), a fascinating place which explains, in Spanish, English and French, the history, dating back 800 years, and importance of honey to the village and indeed to Malaga province.
There are eight different types of the sweet treat, all of which can be sampled during a trip to the museum. Varieties range from avocado honey, which is said to be rich in iron and helps to prevent anaemia, to rosemary honey, used to fight against physical and intellectual exhaustion! Orange blossom honey will apparently help against insomnia while thyme honey is a good tonic for fatigue and regulating blood pressure. Asthmatics are recommended chestnut honey and should you find yourself suffering from dysentery then apparently forest honey can help! The museum is open from Monday to Friday 10am-2pm and 3-6pm and more information can be found on the website: www.museodelamiel.com.
As well as its claim on the province’s honey, Colmenar also boasts magnificent views over the Axarquía and Montes de Málaga thanks to its position at almost 700 metres above sea level.
Evidence of life in the area can be traced back to the Neolithic period, with the discovery of ceramic pots, plates and other objects in the Cueva de las Pulseras near the village and like the rest of the Axarquía the Muslim era of Al-Andalus was key to the early development of Colmenar. It is said that the area was rich in bread, cereal, running water, ponds and natural springs.
The village really began to grow between the 15th and 17th Centuries and became an independent town in 1777, when the first mayor was Francisco de Coalla. It remains independent today and forms one of the 31 towns and villages that make up the Axarquía. Nowadays the town has a town hall, primary schools, shops (in particular those selling local meats and cheeses), banks, bars, accommodation and restaurants and a number of other services all catering for some 3,500 residents as well as visitors. There is a foreign population living in and around Colmenar and the local language school is kept busy with people wanting to learn Spanish.
As well as honey, Colmenar has a history of producing ‘embutidos’ (cold meats) as well as ‘vino mosto’ which is the village’s variation on the typical sweet wine found in most villages in the Axarquía. In fact the Fiesta del Mosto y la Chacina (cured meats) pays tribute to two of these important products from Colmenar and will take place on Sunday 9th December this year (www.colmenar.es for more information).
Other important festivals in Colmenar include the Romería de la Virgen de la Candelaria y San Blás, which takes place on and around 2 February, Semana Santa (Easter Week, March or April depending on the year) and the Fería de Agosto, which is the second weekend of August.
Colmenar and the surrounding area offer a number of walking routes and information (in Spanish) can be found on the town hall website (www.colmenar.es). From Colmenar a series of spectacular hikes can be done around the Montes de Málaga and some of the area’s most well-known mountains; Juan Román and Granados, are within easy reach of the village.
Other places worth visiting in Colmenar include the pretty Plaza de España, in front of the Town Hall, the church; Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Asunción and the Ermita (hermitage) de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria who is one of Colmenar’s patron saints, along with San Blas. From the ‘Ermita’, which is located at the highest point in the village, you can see the Tajo and Doña Ana gorges and to the right is the Sierra Nevada.
Colmenar is approximately 38 kilometres from Vélez-Málaga along the A-356 and easy to get to from Malaga city (approximately 32 kilometres) along the A-7000 which goes through the Montes de Málaga. The town boasts hotels and other accommodation, such as the Hotel Balcón de los Montes, near to the historic centre. There is a regular bus service between Malaga and Colmenar and street parking is generally easy.