The tiny municipality of Macharaviaya is one of Malaga province´s smallest. However, it has possibly the most illustrious history with the name Gálvez synonymous with the village.
At 235 metres above sea level, Macharaviaya, which was founded as a village in 1572, is the birth place of some of Spain’s most prominent sons; Matias, José, Miguel and Bernado de Gálvez, who each made major contributions to their country and to the Axarquía.
José, thanks to the Bishop of Malaga, was sent to study in Salamanca and went on to become influential in the court of Carlos 3rd, who was King at the time. Matias would go on to become Viceroy of Guatemala and later Nueva España and Miguel is said to have been responsible for the early exportation of sweet wine from the area, famously introducing Catherine the Great of Russia to it.
Another annual event is the 4th July celebration that takes place both in Macharaviaya and Malaga city, to mark the strong bond that the two places still have. On the weekend nearest to Independence Day, parades take place through the streets of Malaga and a re-enactment of the Battle of Pensacola is performed in front of the church in Macharaviaya. This year it takes place on 1st July. Members of the Granaderos y Damas association dress in traditional 18th century Spanish, American and British costume, which include military attire, for the occasion and since 2016, the University of Malaga has been collaborating with members of the association to produce replica dresses which would have been worn by women during the era.
Throughout the year, however, visitors can learn more about this famous family and its legacy in the area at the Museo de los Gálvez, which is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11am until 2pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 11am until 3pm. Arrangements can be made with the town hall for private, group visits. In Malaga city bronze statues have recently been erected near the María Zambrano train station, depicting members of the Gálvez family.
A stroll around the village will bring the visitor to a number of landmarks linked with different members of the Gálvez family, including the house where Bernardo’s mother, María Josefa lived, the fountains demonstrating the arrival of water to the village thanks to the family, a disused playing cards factory and the church.
The church of San Jacinto is relatively large for the size of the village and was built in 1875 with the profits from the playing card factory. Beneath the church is the Gálvez mausoleum, where José de Gálvez’s remains are – the only family member in Macharaviaya. Busts of family members also fill the space but other members of the family are buried elsewhere – Bernardo is in the cathedral in Mexico City, where he was Viceroy until shortly before his death on 30th November 1786.
Out and About in Macharaviaya with The Directory Axarquia magazineAnother famous story linked to the church is that of the ghost of María López, a young bride who, suffering from a heart condition, died before being able to say, ‘I do,’ on her wedding day on 5 December 1920. It is said that the unmarried bride’s ghost still haunts the church today.
Macharaviaya was also home for some time to American painter, Robert Harvey, whose memory lives on through murals on the wall below the primary school at the entrance to the village. There is also a permanent exhibition of his work in the museum and the association of friends of Robert Harvey regularly organise events in his name throughout the year.Out and About in Macharaviaya with The Directory Axarquia magazine
The municipality includes the hamlets of Benaque and Vallejos and a combined total of just under 500 people live between the three places, including a number of foreign residents. Katie Hallybone and her family moved there from England in the 1980s and Katie is now Deputy Mayor and councillor for culture. Benaque is the birthplace of Spanish poet, Salvador Rueda, who was exiled during the Spanish Civil War.
Macharaviaya celebrates its Feria (fair) during the first weekend of August to coincide with San Bernardo.
Although there are currently no services in the village (a local shop recently closed down as did a café, due to illness), but a mesón, offering dishes made with local products and elaborating a fusion of typical Axarquía and American food is due to open later in 2017. Locals currently rely on regular deliveries of milk, fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. However, it does boast modern sports facilities and an outdoor swimming pool as well as a primary school and town hall, offering Spanish classes for foreign residents. Access to the village is via the MA3201 off the A7 motorway at exit 258, where it is clearly signposted.
Written by Jennie Rhodes
Photographs taken by Rob Bell Photography