YUNQUERA is a lovely white washed town in the Natural Park of the SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES. Nestling in the most beautiful landscape with the hillsides covered in the rare Spanish fir trees PINSAPO, the mountain range is part of the SERRANIA DE RONDA. The easiest way to reach the town and area is from Ronda.
The SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES is a KARSTIC range with some impressive shafts and caves. Part of the area of the Sierra de las Nieves is a protected area since 1989 as the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park located in the heart of the range and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1995.
The park centres on LA TORRECILLA (1,919 m), the highest point of the range, and covers an area of 300 kmē. This mountainous area has a rich variety of flora and fauna. Historically there has been little human influence or agricultural activity in the mountains, which can be snow-covered in the winter, hence their name in Spanish.
Apart from a few villages, which form a rural mountain community, this isolated area is largely uninhabited, and has seen very little human influence or activity, such as agricultural cultivation.
For this reason, it has an unusually rich variety of indigenous flora (pine, fir, ash, chestnut, wild olive and oak trees, as well as juniper) and fauna, including mountain goat and muflon. As the name suggests, the park is sometimes snow-covered in winter.
Access to the Nature Reserve is from across the valley and it is possible to drive to the part known as HOYO DE LAS COLMENAS, but then it is necessary to continue on foot.
The paths split into two, to the left is a footpath which leads to the Tajo de la Caina, an impressive cleft over the Horacjos valley, to the right there is another footpath which leads to the Puerto del Saucillo and from there to the FUENTE DE LA PERDIZ, a spring which flows all year round. Further ahead you pass by the Llano de la Casa, and finally you arrive at the Torrecilla peak, at 1.819 mts the highest point in Malaga Province.
Outside the Natural Park, the hills and valley of the Convent have a special attraction where the firs descend the hillsides until the vicinity of the ruins of the convent of NUESTRA SENORA DE LAS NIEVES. The Romans named the village JUNCARIA, which means marsh or reed meadow, and later the ARABS made the most of these lands with plots watered by nearby springs. The agricultural tradition has been kept up to our days and extends over the hills and undulations of the high plateau with the most important extensions of olive groves.
The following villages surround the park and are spectacularly situated, with mountain backdrops, and are largely unspoiled due to their rural location.
ISTAN to the south of the park was one of the few Arab settlements which remained after the Reconquest. It is famous for its pure, clear mountain water.
MONDA, which lies to the southeast and is close to MARBELLA, is popular with residents of the glamorous seaside town. The castle dates from Moorish times, and has been restored and expanded into a luxury hotel.
TOLOX also dates from the 10th century, and is famous for its balneario (Spa).This steep hillside village lies to the east of the park.
YUNQUERA, to the northeast, is a popular gateway to the park. Look out for the Moorish water system, still in use today.
EL BURGO has a Roman bridge and a holy spring nearby. It is also situated to the northeast of the park.
RONDA is the largest town in the area, and is famous for being the birthplace of modern bullfighting. It is situated to the northwest of the park.
IGUALEJA, to the west, is well-known for its chestnut trees and its tough residents.
In the central area is the town of YUNQUERA, a typical ANDALUSIAN white village nestled in the western part of the Guadalhorce valley combines isolation with anonymity. The town has part of its medieval layout with windy, steep streets of white washed house full of olde worlde charm.
Visit the Parroquial Church, which dates back to the XVI century, the tower of the Puerto de las Abejas and the Hermitage of OUR LADY OF CARMEN. The watch tower and the ancestral homes of Abela and the Viuda de Sola, dating from 1800, are also worth visiting.
Half a km from the village you will find the ARABIC chapel and remains of an old wall which survive from the Andalusi-Arabic period, the best conserved testimony to YUNQUERA'S past.
The festivals held on August the 16th in honour of the VIRGEN DE LA PORTICATE and on October 7th to the VIRGIN DEL ROSARIO conserve traditions from the times when harvesters returned in Mid-August from the JEREZ countryside.
As the last group arrived they all joined together to go to the chapel of Porticate and celebrate mass for thanksgiving. The local people still place "SAN JUANES" and "SAN JAIMES", where they hang a print of either one of the Saints in the street with a colourful blanket as the background.
Each of these improvised alters are adorned with mirrors, ribbons, dolls and pot plants, and the youngsters often sing and dance there during the summer nights.
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