At 500 metres above sea level, pretty Periana proudly overlooks the Viñuela reservoir and offers residents and visitors alike some of the most stunning views in the Axarquía.
A great time to visit the small town is towards the end of winter and early spring when the almond blossom is out and the journey along the A7204 is picture postcard-esque.
The town of Periana is the administrative centre of an area which lays claim to a further 14 hamlets, including beautiful Moya and El Cañuelo, both home to a relatively large British population. Of a population of 3,400 people living in Periana and its surrounding area, around 15 per cent is northern European.
Legend has it that Periana got its name from two feuding families, both of whom wanted the village to be named after them; The Pereiro and Santana familes. Eventually a deal was made to merge the two names to give the town its name – ‘perei’ and ‘ana.’ The town’s coat of arms bears the words ‘ni Pereiro ni Santana,’ meaning ‘neither Pereiro nor Santana. However, it is worth noting that ’ana’ meant ‘place name’ in Roman times.
Regardless of how the town acquired its name, what is certain is that there was a natural spring on the site of the fountain in Plaza de la Fuente, where farmers brought their cattle to drink. Gradually people started to settle there and the place grew as a town.
There is evidence of Islamic settlers in the area, with the ruins of a mosque (mezquita) in the hamlet of Marchamona, to the north of the town.
On Christmas day in 1884 a huge earthquake devastated large parts of Andalusia and in Periana it left 58 people dead. Survivors tried to flee to neighbouring towns, only to find that the roads had been cut off and the church, town hall and police station were also destroyed.
From 28th August 1922 until 12th May 1960 the Malaga to Zafaraya train stopped just outside Periana; the only station between Vélez-Málaga and its final destination. The old station building can be found in the town centre.
Periana is probably best known for its olive oil (Aceite Periana). The town celebrates its ‘liquid gold’ every year on the Sunday after Easter with the ‘Día del Aceite Verdial’ (will take place on Sunday 23rd April 2017). The day includes olive oil tastings along with local ‘Verdiales’ music; traditional music which takes its name from the verdial oil of the area.
Other places of interest in Periana
The Lavadero de la Cruz – the old town laundry area, where women would meet to do their washing and chat.
Mirador – on the Plaza de la Lomilleja – offering stunning views of the Guaro river and Viñuela reservoir.
Baños de Vilo – situated approximately 2.5 kilometres to the north of Periana, is the tiny hamlet of Baños de Vilo, where during the 18th and 19th Centuries the Balneario, or baths, were among Andalusia’s most frequented. Guests would visit the baths for medicinal purposes and the baths are still used today and known for their health benefits.
In recent years, not only have many foreigners fallen in love with the area, but thanks to the current mayor as well as the Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Axarquía’s and the Asociación de la Promoción Turistica de la Axarquía (APTA) pushing to promote tourism in the area, in 2015, a foreigners’ office was opened and two volunteers work closely with politicians not only to help to attract tourism to the town but also to promote closer integration between the growing foreign population and the Spanish people who live there. They run successful weekly Spanish classes and organise a year-round programme of events which everyone is encouraged to attend, regardless of nationality.
Día del Aceite Verdial (see above) On 15th May every year, Periana pays homage to its Patron Saint; Saint Isidore the farmer (San Isidro Labrador). Like many agricultural towns and villages in Spain, Saint Isidore is an important figure in Periana, as his English name suggests, he is the Patron Saint of farmers. As the procession passes the town’s fountain, the ‘throne’ carrying a statue of the saint is rocked as a reminder of the important role the water source played in the past. Peaches are another local crop and the día del melocotón (peach day) is celebrated every year on the last Saturday in July and the town’s annual Feria (fair) takes place during the penultimate week of August.
Walking routes A number of walking routes are available in and around Periana, including the Millennial olive trees, which takes in the oldest examples in the Axarquía, which, as their name suggests, are over 1,000 years old. Another route follows the old railway tracks. Further information about these and other walks can be found at: www.periana.es and are available in English.
Alsa runs a bus service to Periana from Vélez-Málaga. For further information visit www.alsa.es
Tourist information can be found at www.periana.es, is available in English and has information on festivals, places to eat, what to see and walking routes and or by email firstname.lastname@example.org The Foreigners´office opens on Wednesday from 10am until 2pm and has a wealth of information.
Written by Jennie Rhodes ©
Photographs taken by Rob Bell Photography ©