The tiny village of Cútar really is right in the middle of the Axarquía. It’s around 330 metres above sea level and has approximately 600 inhabitants, many of whom live in the surrounding hamlets of Salto de Negro, La Zubia, Monte de los Frailes and El Molino. In the compact village itself, there are probably just about 300 and according to the people at the town hall, many of those are second home owners and foreigners who just come for winter.
There are two possible origins of the name Cútar: one is that it comes from the Arabic, Hisn Aqut, which means ‘strong castle’ and Cautzar, meaning ‘fountain of paradise. Whichever the true origin, Cútar has strong links with its Islamic past, not only with the discovery of the Koran but also through the Fiesta del Monfí, which take places over two days in October. The festival acts as a reminder of the village’s Moorish past and recreates the ‘Andalusi’ culture through a medieval market, selling traditional food and handicrafts. Residents dress up in traditional costume and there is music, dancing and a tea ceremony.
One of the permanent residents is Cutareño (the name given to people from Cútar), Miguel Lozano Ruíz, who along with his son, came across a 16 th Century Koran and Arabic manuscript hidden in straw and mud inside the wall of a house that the pair were reforming in 2003. We were joined by Miguel at the village’s one and only bar when we visited and he told us his story. While there are copies of the books in the village’s museum, Museo del Monfí (although this appears to be closed at the moment), the originals were sent to Malaga University to be analysed and translated.
Miguel told us that he laments the loss of his village’s population, which is a problem across much of Spain and has hit the news in recent weeks. He told us that the problem isn’t new and that during the last century, many of the men from the village went in search of work to Barcelona and would come back for the annual feria, in August.
As you enter the village on the road from Vélez-Málaga, you cannot miss the Fuente Arabe (Arabic fountain) on your left. There are steps leading up to a small tunnel and if you carry on you’ll get to the upper part of the road. It’s well worth the climb as the mirador at the top offers a stunning panorama, not only of the whole village but of the surrounding countryside and other nearby villages.
Other points of interest include the Virgen de la Encarnación church and the Algorfa Arabe, an old Arabic barn, which is just down the road from town hall and next to the bar. The views from the bar’s terrace and Algorfa Arabe of the hills surrounding Cútar are unmissable.
Cútar is highly dependent on agriculture and as well as Axarquía muscatel raisins, subtropical like avocados and mangoes have become a vital source of income for the village. Mayor, Francisco Javier Ruíz, also told us that rural tourism is something which is beginning to take off in the village and that more and more visitors and second home owners are coming into the area.
There are plenty of hiking options around Cútar and thes include a 19 kilometre circuit starting and finishing in the village and taking in La Zubia and La Alqueria. The Del Cerro trail is the easiest of the options and takes around 90 minutes, while the La Albaida trail is medium to difficult and takes around 2 hours 30 minutes to complete. Further information is available from the town hall near the entrance to Cútar.
Cútar celebrates its annual Romería de San Roque (pilgrimage) at the end of May, the Feria de Salto Negro takes place in early August and the Fiestas de San Roque, the village’s patron saint, take place over the weekend closest to 16 th August. Then of course the aforementioned Fiesta del Monfí is in mid-October.
Services and getting there
Despite its diminutive size, Cutar has a range of services including primary school, town hall, health centre, chemist’s and sports facilities. Market day is Thursday.
To get to Cútar from Vélez-Málaga, take the A-356 and then MA 3113 to Benamargosa and then the MA 3108 on which Cútar is signposted at the bridge over the river once in Benamargosa.
By bus there is a service from Torre del Mar and Vélez-Málaga with Valle Niza coaches. For further information visit www.autocarsvalleniza.es