Velez Malaga discover best things to see and do

A heritage to discover !

Visit Velez-Malaga, the capital of Axarquía, and its 3000 years of history

velez malaga casco historico

In this article you will find the essential information for visiting Velez-Malaga :

  • A few words about Velez Malaga
  • The origins of Velez-Malaga
  • What to see in Velez Malaga?
  • What to do in Velez Malaga
    • Activities
    • Guided tours
    • ferias and fiestas
  • Where is Velez-Malaga?
  • Book accommodation
  • Some useful links
  • Experiences to discover in the province of Malaga

velez malaga Convento San Francisco en Axarquia
Convento de San Francisco

A few words about Velez Malaga

Velez-Malaga is the capital of Axarquia in the province of Malaga. It is located 40km from Málaga, which is considered the big sister.

Velez-Malaga is a small and somewhat forgotten town, despite its incredible historical and cultural heritage, with 3000 years of history.

The origins of Velez-Malaga

Originally, almost 3000 years ago, Velez-Malaga was a Phoenician village.

Later it became a Roman town under the name of Maenoba.

After the Romans and the Visigoths, it took the name of Bâllish or Ballix Malaca during the period of Al-Andalus.


In 1487, following the conquest of the city by the Catholic kings, Abul Kasim, the last mayor of Velez Malaga under the Nasrid kingdom, handed over the keys of the city to the first Catholic mayor of the city, Diego Arias. All the mosques were converted into churches, convents or palaces.

2 other dates in the history of Velez-Malaga

24th August 1704

The biggest and most deadly naval battle in history took place in Velez-Malaga, more precisely in front of the beach of Torre del Mar.

torre del mar vista playa paseo maritimo

At the beginning of August 1704, the English seized Gibraltar (20 days earlier). The Spanish galleys and French ships faced the Anglo-Dutch fleet on that day. For more details of this battle, see the page dedicated to Torre del Mar.

9th March 1810

On this day the King of Spain (and also King of Italy) …. Joseph Bonaparte visited.

He was appointed King of Spain by his younger brother Napoleon Bonaparte. His visit to the city would later cause rebellions, which prevented the Napoleonic army from pacifying the area.

Joseph Bonaparte was not a real leader or warlord like his brother… His reason for coming to Velez was to discover the sugar cane crops of the region!


Velez-Malaga is today the European capital for the cultivation of tropical fruits. The main crops are mango and avocado. However, all around Velez you can taste papayas, pitayas, maracujas, litchis… about thirty different tropical fruits.

Fruits tropicaux en Andalousie
papaya, pitaya, litchi, passion fruit, ….

In the following link you will find almost all the tropical fruits grown in Axarquia.

What to see in Velez Malaga?

The historic centre of Velez Malaga is an invitation to travel back in time.

velez malaga fachada en Axarquia
una fachada en Velez Malaga

It is a place where you can discover many monuments and works of art (sculptures, paintings, poems by Joaquín Lobato).

velez malaga scultura pintura
Sculpture with all the alminares of Axarquia

The Alcazaba Fortaleza

velez malaga fortaleza
la Fortaleza de Velez Malaga

It was one of the most important fortresses of the Nazarite kingdom of Granada. There is little left from that time. It was partially destroyed by Napoleonic troops. And it was then used as a lime quarry for a long time. However, it is worth a visit. It also offers a magnificent panoramic view.

The convent of San Francisco.

Exterior facade of the San Francisco convent

This is a beautiful monument.


Its current bell tower is part of the old minaret, from the time when this convent was a mosque.

Below, another photo of the bell tower…just because this perspective is quite curious.


The iglesia of Santa Maria Mayor de la Encarnacion

It was built at the end of the 15th century on the site of the old Aljama mosque.

velez malaga iglesia Sta Maria Mayor encarnacion
Iglesia Santa Maria Mayor de la Encarnacion

This is a beautiful church that dominates the city. Inside you will find the Semana Santa museum.

The wall of the old Medina and the Puerta Real

velez malaga muralla
La antigua muralla de la medina

It has been restored, and the old royal gate of the city can be seen right next to it. It is the only one that remains from the time of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada.

velez malaga entrada muralla arabe
entrada muralla arabe

After passing through this gate, we find ourselves in the old Medina, with the street of water:

velez malaga calle agua

The palace of the Marquis of Beniel

MVVEL Museo Velez Malaga
Palacio Marques de Beniel

This palace is the most important civil building in the city. Today it houses the Maria Zembrano Foundation. In front of the palace there is a life-size statue of Cervantes.

The mihrab

is a niche in a wall that is used to indicate the qibla – the direction of the kaaba in Mecca. It allowed the Muslim faithful of the time to indicate the direction of the prayer. This mihrab has remained in good condition to this day.

velez malaga mihrab
el mihrab (cerca del mercado)

This mihrab was originally part of an old small mosque from the 14th century. It has probably been miraculously preserved because it was part of an inhabited house after the reconquest.

The Church of Saint John the Baptist


Like the other churches, it was built over a former mosque. Below is a very partial view of its bell tower.


Next to it you can see the old Posito, the city’s granary.

The MVVEL – Museum of Velez Malaga –

The MMVEL is the city’s museum, housed in the former Saint John of God hospital. The building is beautiful. The exhibitions, both permanent and seasonal, are of great quality.

You will find a photo and the opening hours in this link.

The Carmelite Convent

It is located opposite the town hall. And right next to it, there is the Toto café-bar, which will be a very nice place to have a coffee and admire this convent.

Velez malaga plaza carmelitas
Plaza de las Carmelitas

NB: 200 metres away, there is an exceptional bakery, perhaps the best in the province of Malaga. It is the Juanito bakery. This baker supplies prestigious restaurants in Madrid and Marbella.

The Teatro del Carmen

This theatre is located in an unusual place, in the former Convent of San José de la Soledad (with a photo of the current theatre).

It is a convent founded in 1591 by the order of Discalced Carmelites (Carmelitas Descalzos). The church was converted into a theatre in 1984.

The Ermita de la Virgen de los Remedios

ermita Ntra Sra de los Remedios
ermita Ntra Sra de los Remedios

This small church is worth a stop. It would be a real shame to miss the fabulous and curious paintings by the painter Evaristo Guerra.

Virgen Remedios Evaristo Guerra fresco 2
Fresco Evaristo Guerra

In the following link you will find all the information about the hermitage of the Virgen de los Remedios.

Cervantes and Velez Malaga

We cannot talk about Velez-Malaga without mentioning the life of the writer Cervantes. His life is an epic worthy of his novel Don Quixote.

Miguel de Cervantes lived in Velez-Malaga, and is one of those men who had an incredible life. He was a military man and took part in a naval battle off the coast of Greece to combat the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. He lost the use of his left hand. On his return to Spain, he was captured by the barbarians and was enslaved for 5 years in Algiers, despite having escaped 4 times.

velez malaga estatua cervantes
Escultura de Cervantes en Velez

On his return to Spain, he became a food commissioner and embezzled church property, then engaged in the illicit sale of wheat, which led to periods in prison.

He found a new job in Velez-Malaga as a tax collector. Then he became the brilliant writer of Don Quixote and the creator of the character of Dulcinea in his masterpiece.

velez malaga Don Quijote escultura
Don Quijote – Escultura en el parque del centro –

« ¡Gracias sean dadas a Dios, señores, que a tan buena parte nos ha conducido! Porque, si yo no me engaño la tierra que pisamos es la de Vélez Málaga. » (Chapter XLI)

To be seen just outside Velez

The municipality of Velez Málaga includes many places such as Torre del Mar, Trapiche, Almayate, Benajarafe or Chilches.

Here are two others that are worth a visit:

  • the town of Triana, where you can discover a wonderful hidden hamlet: La Zorilla
  • and of course Caleta de Velez to discover its fishing port and taste the pescaïto frito

puerto caleta de Velez fishing costa del sol port harbour
trampas de pesca – Caleta de Velez –

What to do in Velez Malaga?


In the surroundings, it is possible to find very nice activities:

balade à cheval sur la plage en Andalousie

  • horse riding, on the beach or in the mountains
  • diving in Nerja and Torrox
  • guided tours (villages of Axarquia, Cordoba, Alhambra,…)
  • via ferrata (Caminito del Rey,…)
  • hiking (El Saltillo with the hanging bridge,…)
  • canyoning (in the rio Verde,…)
  • astrotourism
  • snorkeling
  • visit of caves

Use the following link to access all the activities to do. during your holidays. This link provides you with all the details of each activity.

Guided tours from Velez

A very good local guide, Cipriano, offers thematic and seasonal guided tours from Torre del Mar.

local guide andalucia

As example : Frigiliana and El Acebuchal Tour

Cipriano organizes from Torre del Mar the visit of Frigiliana and El Acebuchal, the famous hamlet forgotten for 50 years!

You can find the details of the day and the possibility of booking online, in the following link: Frigiliana and El Acebuchal Tour.

frigiliana pueblo mas bonito en Axarquia
Frigiliana barrio morisco

The guided tours are always done in small groups (2 to 8 people max.) to discover the authentic Axarquia.

In the following link you will find all the details and prices of the tours he offers (Olive Oil Tour, Wine Tour, White Villages Tour,…)

Here are all the guided tours from Torrox, Nerja and Torre del Mar.

Ferias and fiestas

  • La Semana Santa de Velez Malaga (to be experienced once!). This is the most important week of the year and the city shows its fervour in celebrating Holy Week.

velez malaga escultura semana santa
Escultura cerca de la iglesia San Juan Batista

Despite the small size of Velez-Malaga, there are 19 processions in a few days. It has been declared a Fiesta of national tourist interest.

Below are the other main fiestas and ferias of the city:

Where is Velez-Malaga?

Book accommodation

Some useful links

Here is a great car rental agency in Andalusia and more specifically at Malaga airport : book a rental car.

If you are in Andalucia as part of a tour with several major cities to visit, here are some links that may be of interest:

  • All you need to know about Granada, the Alhambra, the Albaicin neighbourhood before visiting Granada

  • If you are passing through the geographical centre of Andalusia, then you can visit Antequera, with the incredible natural site of El Torcal right next door.

Experiences to discover in the province of Malaga

Find more ideas for visits to authentic Andalusia: see the blog pages on Andalucia.

Here is the link to receive our newsletter from the blog

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