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 to visit and see the best of Velez-Malaga :

  • A few words about Velez Malaga
  • The origins of the town
  • 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!

Fountain in Velez-Malaga in front of Cervantes’ house


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?

  1. What can you see in Velez Malaga?
  2. A curious obelisk in the heart of the historic centre
  3. The Alcazaba Fortaleza
  4. Convent of San Francisco
  5. The church of Santa Maria Mayor de la Encarnacion
  6. The walls of the old Medina
  7. On the heights of the city
  8. The Puerta Real
  9. The old granary
  10. The palace of the Marquises of Beniel
  11. The mihrab
  12. Sculptures in the city centre
  13. The church of St John the Baptist
  14. The MVVEL – Museum of Velez Malaga
  15. The Carmelite Convent
  16. The Teatro del Carmen
  17. Hermitage of the Virgen de los Remedios
  18. Cervantes and Velez Malaga
  19. Worth seeing near 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

An obelisk to see in Velez-Malaga

Escultura con todos los alminares de la Axarquia

The Alcazaba 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 church is absolutely beautiful and dominates the city.

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

The wall of the old Medina

La antigua muralla de la medina

It has been beautifully restored and is integrated into the historic center.

On the heights of the city

This is a wonderful walk to get an overview of Velez Malaga and the surrounding area.

This walk will take you from the city center to Fortaleza-Alcazaba while enjoying the panorama

The Puerta Real

It is the only gateway to the ancient medina 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 (which you will see a little further down).

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 sculptures in the city center, little treasures to see in Velez Malaga

The city of Velez-Malaga offers an infinite variety of sculptures to discover among its streets and alleys. Very often, there is information on the sculpture and its author.

The Church of Saint John the Baptist

Here is another very beautiful church in Velez-Malaga.

I particularly like entering this church through a side door, several centuries old:


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


The old Posito, the city’s granary

It is located right next to the Saint Jean Baptiste church.

The MVVEL – Museum of Velez Malaga –

The MMVEL is the city’s museum, housed in the former Saint John of God hospital. This building is really 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.

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

At the foot of the theater, you can see a very beautiful “modern” menina by Velazquez. In the square, you will also find a very beautiful sculpture by Juan Breva, the immense flamenco artist.

The Ermita de la Virgen de los Remedios

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

This little church is worth a stop. It is located on a promontory which allows you to see a superb 360 degree panorama:

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

velez malaga estatua cervantes
Escultura de Cervantes en Velez

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.

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 will find a new job in Velez-Malaga…

Facade of Cervantes’ house in Velez

He will serve as tax collector…

interior of Cervantes’ house

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 –

He may have started writing his work not far from this house:

« ¡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

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:

via ferrata in Andalusia in Zafarraya

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

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

  • Velez Malaga Holy Week (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 (car hire, ideas for visits)

Easy and economical bookings

Continue your trip to Andalucia


Seville, the capital of Andalucia, is a city full of treasures to discover and monuments to visit.

Door of Forgiveness – Seville Cathedral

Here you will find everything you can see in Seville in 3 days. And for those who will stay longer you will also find information on secret Seville and the Santa Cruz and Triana districts.


cadix cadiz cathedrale catedral cathedral cattedrale


When you reach the Costa del Sol you will find in this link all must-sees in Malaga :

Street art next to the Picasso Museum Malaga


Discover what to see in Granada, and visit the Albaicin and Sacromonte districts:



And of course, visit Cordoba, the caliphate city, and the Juderia district


Experiences to discover in the province of Malaga

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

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Here are the latest articles on Andalucia

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