The museum village of Genalguacil
Religious fervour and entertainment are not mutually exclusive at the fair which is held in honour of Genalguacil’s patron saint each year. This all-important festival is taking place this weekend and it is dedicated to San Pedro Mártir de Verona, to whom the people of this village in the Bajo Genal area of the Serranía de Ronda hold a special devotion.
Today, Friday, is deemed the most important day because the image of the patron saint is taken in procession through the streets of the village twice: the first time after the Mass which is held at midday, and then again after nightfall, at 10 pm. These processions are the most emotional parts of the weekend, and are a time during which the most devout express their feelings towards the saint. Some do so with a quiet prayer; others, however, prefer to let off rockets as the procession winds its way through the narrow and often steep streets of Genalguacil. This, without a doubt, is one of the most memorable customs of this festival.
After a day of religious devotion, three days of partying lie ahead in the marquee which has been set up in the main square of the village, from where there are some beautiful views over the Genal valley.
Live music, excellent food – a ‘tapas route’ has been organised on Sunday – and a great atmosphere; these are the features which best define this festival, which is an enthusiastic combination of religious passion and fun.
During the fair, the population of this small village increases considerably. Not only do people come from other parts of the region to enjoy the festivities, but many locals who live elsewhere come home for this weekend.
It is certainly a good time to explore the natural and artistic beauty of what has become known as the ‘Pueblo Museo’, because walking through its streets is like touring an open-air museum. As you stroll, soaking up Genalguacil’s unique atmosphere and charm, you come across lovely surprises in the form of sculptures, murals and other unusual artistic creations which have been designed and produced during the Art Encounters which take place here every two years.
This initiative, the first one of its type in the world, began in 1994 and it means the village has an art collection which would normally be unthinkable for a place of its size. Some of the works of art are housed in the museum, El Museo de los Encuentros de Arte, to prevent them being damaged by inclement weather.
In addition to these works of art, Genalguacil’s popular architecture is also lovely. It is similar to that of other villages in this region, with narrow streets, stunning countryside and beautiful views over the valley.
One especially interesting building is the church of San Pedro Mártir de Verona, which is dedicated to the patron saint of the village. It was built in the 17th century over the ruins of another church which was destroyed during the Moorish uprising of Sierra Bermeja in 1570. Its octagonal tower is particularly unusual. Some Mudejar and Baroque features can still be seen in the interior.
Genalguacil also looks over the main river in this area, the Genal. From the village you can go down a winding road in the direction of Algatocín to the San Juan bridge, which is one of the most spectacular stretches of the river. Although this part of the river is actually in the municipality of Jubrique, its proximity to Genalguacil makes it a very popular place for local residents on very hot days, because there are some natural pools which are ideal for swimming, such as the Charco Picao and the Charco Estrecho.
Genalguacil also has several hiking routes and roads which lead to the beautiful and environmentally valuable Reales de Sierra Bermeja, which is divided between Estepona, Casares and Jubrique. This protected area has a particular geological value because it contains one of the largest areas in Europe of peridotites, rocks which are rich in platinum and which give the mountain range its striking reddish colour.
On the road from Genalguacil towards Los Reales, in the Peñas Blancas area, you can also visit another spectacular beauty spot called the Charco Azul, which is one of the crystal-clear pools formed by the Arroyo Estercal stream.source surinenglish