Casares… coastal vantage point
Casares is located in the western part of the Costa del Sol, about 105 km from Malaga, between the towns of Manilva, Gaucín, San Roque and Estepona. It sits about 10 kilometres inland from the coast and 430 metres above sea level, and has an area of 160 square kilometres. There is a permanent population of about 6,000 inhabitants spread over several population centres.
Heir to the old Lacipo, Casares is named after a legendary event: Julius Caesar and his troops eased their skin diseases in what is known today as the Hedionda baths. The Romans knew as well as anyone of that time of the importance of a good SPA (Salus per aquam) before a battle; from this event Lacipo would become famous in ancient Rome for its healing waters; it would be some time in the first third of the first century BC, when Lacipo was erected on an Iberian settlement vitally placed to control the route to the sea from the fertile valleys of the interior.
Writers such as Pomponio Mela, Pliny and Ptolemy already mentioned the embryonic Casares, which at that time included what is known today as Manilva and San Luis de Sabinillas. Although somewhat remote from them, their long beaches allowed the always inevitable arrival of the Phoenicians eager to trade whatever they could.
Its stunning views made Casares, now some four kilometers from the original Roman site, a protagonist in Spain’s epic history; welcoming Christian and Muslim kings who helped to regain the throne of Granada, bringing peace to the area, and most importantly in the recent history of Andalusia; Blas Infante, considered the “father” of the Andalusian homeland was born here in 1885.
Being a gateway between the coast and the interior makes Casares a privileged vantage point where, in each of its secluded and hilly streets the past reaches out to the visitor, such as the rock houses which have been adapted and altered over the centuries.
Through the streets we reach the hermitage of Nuestra Señora del Rosario del Campo, where in 1570 an agreement ended the Moorish rebellion against Felipe II. Through the same streets Mohamed V of Granada would walk uneasily waiting for the troops of Peter I of Castile to leave on a mission to recover his throne. And later a child would run through them from the Carlos III Fountain to Spain Square. That child was Blas, who in time would pull together the threads of Andalusian autonomy, the story of which can be seen in his birthplace. It is best to visit here after first visiting the Ethnohistory Museum, which gives the background journey from the Neolithic age to the twentieth century.
Anyone who wants to really understand the essence of Casares should climb to the esplanade of the old Moorish castle, an excellent viewpoint -there are several- from which to contemplate protective mountains, plains, valleys and the open sea to the east and west; and on clear days Africa, on the horizon
PLACES OF INTEREST
The current urban layout of the main town centre and its picturesque white Andalusian village style originates from Arab settlements, however the influence of so many cultures have left their mark over the centuries. It worth pointing out:
- The Castle of Casares. Situated on a rock in the highest part of Casares this building dates from the thirteenth century, around which the city centre has grown. Nowadays part of the building is used for tourist facilities: accommodation, restaurants, and the Ethnohistory Museum.
- Church of the Incarnation. Dates from the fifteenth century and was originally a Franciscan convent. Simple construction with a single nave and bell.
- San Sebastián’s Hermitage. Seventeenth century and home to the Patron Saint of Casares, Nuestra Señora del Rosario del Campo.
- Blas Infante Birthplace. Exhibition Centre showing fragments of the work and life of this illustrious ideologue, considered the Father of Adalusianism.
- Blas infante Cultural Centre. The ancient Church of the Incarnation houses the headquarters of the Cultural Centre where there is a permanent exhibition on the history of Casares.
- Carlos III Fountain. Dating from the eighteenth century, is part of a bigger hydro system to capture and use water from the natural springs.
- The Hedionda baths. Sulphurous spring where a spa was built by the Romans in the first century.
- Pilgrimage of the Virgen del Rosario (penultimate weekend of May)
- Casares Medieval market (July)
- Secadero District Fair (third weekend of July)
- Casares August Fair (first weekend of August)
- Feast of Our Lady Virgen del Rosario del Campo (first weekend of September)
- Santo Cristo Fair (second weekend of September)
- Chestnut Roast (autumn)