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Casares

Surface Area: 162 square kilometres

Population: 5,331

What the natives are called: Casareños

Outstanding Sights: Arab Fortress – Blas Infante Cultural Centre; Chapel of Vera Cruz and Graveyard; in town: Chapel of San Sebastián, Fountain of Carlos III, Church of La Encarnación, Blas Infante House Museum; in the surrounding area: Visitor Centre, Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Rosario del Campo, Torre de la Sal, Baths of La Hedionda.

Geographical Location: in the Western Costa del Sol region, bordering on the Ronda highlands. The village is spread over two hills, at some 435 metres above sea level, and is 104 kilometres from the city of Málaga. The area records an annual average rainfall of 860 litres per square metre and the average temperature is 16.6º C.
 

The village of Casares, only 14 kilometres from the bustling and cosmopolitan Costa del Sol, unexpectedly displays to the visitor the most authentic character of those mountain villages that have miraculously avoided an absurd and poorly understood modernity. This locality has preserved in its urban quarter an ambience of quieter times while, to the extent permitted by good taste, making those renovations to its infrastructure that modern life demands. Such balance is anything but easy, but in Casares it has been achieved and it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, as evidenced by the fact that in 1978 it was designated a Historical-Artistic Complex.

Its municipal territory stretches between the Costa del Sol, of which it is a part, the Ronda highlands and the Gibraltar plain. As a result, it shows some of the characteristics of each of those three zones, although the mountain region more influences its appearance than the other two. There are deep gorges in the direction of Sierra Bermeja, small pine woods stretching toward the peak of Los Reales (1,440 metres) and limestone heights in Crestellina, at the entrance to the Genal valley, where a majestic community resides: a colony of Griffon vultures that can easily be seen in full flight.

In the western part of the municipality the River Guadiaro, after receiving the waters of the Genal, opens up its valley to a succession of orchards and gardens that advance towards the sea among gentle hills covered by grain fields and a few grazing lands, a clear forerunner to the border landscape of Cádiz

Prehistoric man left his imprint in different places in this municipality, as, for example, the caves and shelters of Ferrete, Crestellina, Pelliscoso, the La Novia hill, Utrera and the farmstead of Alechipe (or perhaps Alepiche), where remains have also been discovered that may have belonged to the Roman city of Lacipo, which seems to have been built over an Iberian-Phoenician town. What’s more, Casares came to have its own coinage during the Roman era.

It is hard to establish today just what role Casares played in Betica during the Roman period but it is obvious that it must have been of definite importance considering the archaeological remains that have been discovered, such as the aforementioned city of Lacipo.

There is also no doubt that the present urban zone is of Arabic origin, as shown by the ruins of the fortress on top of the rocky hill on which the village lies. From a comparison of Casares with other localities in Málaga it is reasonable to suppose that farm communities sprang up in the surroundings of the castle and with time came to form the village. After the taking of Ronda in 1485 it surrendered to the Christian troops and was granted as a feudal holding to Rodrigo Ponce de León, Duke of Cádiz.

The residents of Casares were not only affected by, but actively participated in. the Moorish uprising, which in this area was put down by Don Juan de Austria, and in the second half of the sixteenth century a pact was signed in this village that brought to an end one of the Moorish rebellions. In the late eighteenth century (1795) Manilva was separated from Casares and given the privileges of a villa (royal burgh), and only a few years later the population found itself caught up in the confrontations with the invading French army. Casares and Cádiz had the distinction of being the only population centres that could not be taken by the Napoleonic troops.

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