Acebuchal - The lost village
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The Lost Village of Acebuchal is a small hamlet in the Hinterland of Nerja, close to the tourist hotspot Frigiliana. It is located in the National Park of the Sierra Tejeda, Almijara, and Alhama, in the Axarquia region. It lies close to the border of the provinces of Granada and Malaga and is under the control of Competa despite being closer to Frigiliana.
Picturesque and unspoiled it is one of the most special white villages (pueblos blancos) in the area. It was once an important trading post and for this reason, this tiny village has an interesting past. The visit is a must, and here is why:
Originally founded in the 17th century, the village is along the traditional muleteers’ route between Granada and Malaga. It has always acted as stopover for passing traders, a place to rest and get supplies. A peaceful life, until the Spanish civil war started 1936.
As with so many villages in the area, Frigiliana and Acebuchal suffered terribly during that time from 1936 - 1939. Frigiliana was declared ‘Red,’ (Republican) in July of 1936. The Fascists quickly retook the village in February of 1937 and took their revenge on anyone suspected of being communist. The executions and reign of terror drove many villagers into the surrounding mountains where they formed a left-wing Guerilla movement known as the Marquis – lead by José Muñoz Lozano. When the Civil War ended 1939, Franco turned his attention to mopping up any resistance movements. The Marquis was top of his list.
Until 1952 a terrible Guerilla war took place. Frigiliana and Acebuchal were right on the front line. The villagers were harassed from both sides. In the summer of 1948 the authorities ordered the residents of Acebuchal (around 200 people) to abandon their homes. Without warning. They left everything behind, all their belongings and even their animals. Acebuchal became a ghost town.
50 years later! In 1998 a son of one of the former villagers of Acebuchal returned. Antonio García Sánchez and his wife Virtudes set about restoring a couple of houses in the village. However, they did not stop there, they went on to rebuild a further five houses and the Taverna. Hard work, as they had no water or electricity until 2003!
At the same time, rural tourism increased in the area and many of the exiled families also returned. Today 36 houses, a chapel, the Taverna, and the beautiful cobblestone streets have been rebuild to their former glory. In fact, there are two restaurants now and a Bed and Breakfast!
Restaurant Bar El Acebuchal!
The main restaurant is run by Antonio and his family. Allow time for a meal here! The menu offers several dishes according to the season, mainly goat, lamb, wild boar, rabbit, and venison. Our favorite hot dish was wild boar cooked in dark chocolate. But be warned, it is very filling and very rich, so you might want to share.
You do have to allow room for homemade bread and olive oil. They make several variations, we have had it with fruit, with salt, and our favorite with rosemary. You are served a large loaf, often still warm and always very fresh. If you can’t eat it all they just wrap up to take it home.
Another dish to mention are the sharing plates of meats and cheeses, all homemade! The chorizo and the black sausage are so tasty. They also do a daily selection of homemade cakes and ice creams, if you have a sweet tooth.
Take a look at the photo collection on the walls inside. They show the former residents, the village and day to day life, in the past. When you have finished eating if Antonio is about, he will offer to take you to his little shop. Here you can purchase the home-made meats and cheeses and honey. Don’t be afraid to have a little friendly barter and he will not be offended if you choose not to buy.
You will find that many blogs on the area tell you they do not take cards and there is no phone or WIFI. They do have phone and WIFI nowadays and take card payments.
Getting there by car!
Is an easy drive - from Frigliana it’s about 15 minutes. You can't miss the large signs when you have to leave the main road. The road is concrete, but the last 2 Kilometers are gravel. Its a one way street, no good for camper vans or busses (great! no mass tourism!), but easy to drive with a normal car.
Hiking to the Lost Village of Acebuchal is very popular. For a keen walker, it would be a reasonably easy challenge. There is the added bonus of a glass of wine at the tavern at the end.
We have been in Acebuchal on a sunny day middle of February. With its green forest surroundings, it reminded us of Austria and Switzerland. A tranquil place, still offsite the touristy path. I was even thinking not to write about it to keep it a bit of a secret. But it’s too beautiful. And the food was too good. Homemade. A yummy and very tasty change to the tourist restaurants on the coast.
Take a look at this youtube clip https://youtu.be/WGp61EXqvm0