This village enjoys a privileged location in the Guadalhorce
Valley, which it overlooks from the north, standing atop
a small hill. As well as its vegetable gardens, orchards
and citrus trees, it also boasts interesting areas nearby,
such as Los Gaitanes Pass - which it shares with Ardales
and Antequera - , La Sierra de Huma and La Sierra de Aguas.
Its urban layout, of Arabic origin, gives it a special charm,
which must be enjoyed without haste, due to the steep nature
of its streets, which lead up to the symbol of the village:
the castle, made even more curious by the fact that it is
now used as a cemetery.
The highlight of Alora’s buildings is La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora.
Within the town boundary, at a spot known as Hoyo del Conde,
prehistoric remains are to be found. Turdetans and, later,
the Phoenicians found the Guadalhorce Valley the ideal place
to set up colonies to exploit the natural riches of the
plains which would also become strategic locations on the
natural routes leading inland. The foundations of Alora
Castle were laid by Phoenician settlers. In Roman times,
it was known as Iluro, while the Arabs called it Alura.
Alora was an important Roman town between 81 andl 96 A.D.,
as witnessed by the archaeological remains found here pertaining
to the period, particularly a monolith -which today stands
in the patio of the parish church- from the time of the
emperor Domicianus, on which the words "Municipium
Iluritanum" can be read. The town, linked to the Roman
region of Betica, was, according to the historian Columela,
an important trading centre for wheat, barley, honey, wine
and oil, all easily obtained from the area’s land;
its prosperity was such that Alora even minted its own coins.
It was conquered by the Vandals in the 5th century. Remains
from the Visigoth period can be found in the fortress located
atop Las Torres mount. During the Moslem occupation, its
privileged strategic location -the castle overlooks the
whole of the Malaga basin- it was besieged by the Christian
kings on numerous occasions. Alfonso VIII attacked in 1184.
In 1319, Alfonso XI also tried to conquer the town. Later,
John II, 1434, and Enrique IV, 1455 also attempted its capture.
It must also have played a key role in the 11th century
rebellion led by the muladi - Christian convert to Islam
- chief Omar Ben Hafsun against the Caliphate of Cordoba,
due to its proximity to Bobastro, where Omar gathered his
forces. Its reputation as an impregnable fortress gave rise
to one of the most beautiful of the frontier ballads: the
Ballad of Alora, which refers to the town as “the
well besieged" and which can be seen reproduced on
a tablet embedded in the castle walls. The town finally
fell into Christian hands on 10 June 1484. The attacking
troops, who bore the banner of the Catholic Monarchs, were
led by Captain Don Luis Fernandez Portocarrero. After the
Christian conquest, the town’s inhabitants continued
to live inside the fortress, and the original parish church,
now the cemetery chapel, was built on the foundations of
a former mosque. With the passage of time, the town began
to spread to the foot of the hill. A decree issued by Philip
IV in 1628 saw Alora cease to belong to the city of Malaga
"for evermore", according to the exact wording
of the document. An earthquake left the original church
in ruins in 1680, as well as destroying the older districts
of the town. The Castle, witness to so many deaths in attempts
to capture and defend it, later became the town cemetery.