EL ACEBUCHAL, ANDALUCÍA, SPAIN: If lucky to wander these streets, you are whisked away on a journey back in time with donkeys and mules. Alongside white houses and a few locals, El Acebuchal has dozen guesthouses, silence and extraordinary landscapes, and a stunning location down in the valley.
For us it was a journey just half hour drive from the seaside city of Nerja on poor hill-roads the final kilometres. To a quiet place with no television or mobile phone signal, one shop with local produced specialities and some good restaurants. This one-of-a-kind village is an ideal place to come for brunch where you can savor freshly caught game and other delights.
Hunt down the guerrillas
El Acebuchal is located in the heart of Sierras de Tejada, Almijara and Alhama natural park. The village was on the route connecting Granada and Malaga when founded in the 17th century.
Until 1949 Acebuchal was a poor village whose inhabitants produced charcoal and limestones and kept some animals. In 1949 the Spanish dictator, General Franco forced the population to move out. Then Guardia Civil could use the location as a base to hunt down the guerrillas “Los Maquis” in the mountains who oppose the fascist regime.
The Ghost City
Guardia Civil expelled everyone out of the village, leaving it completely abandoned for decades. The houses were forgotten and many after a while were left in ruins, and with no water or electricity. No wonder the city got names like “The Ghost City” and “The Lost City”
Back to life
After sleeping for 50 years, El Acebuchal began to come to life again in 1998. Antonio “El Zumbo” Garcia and Virtudes Sanchez had long dreamed of reviving the village and they began to reform little by little. Without water and electricity, we can easily understand the idea involved work and effort of titanic dimensions.
Later Antonio became the chef at El Acebuchal bar and restaurant, where the food is tasty and keeps the quality in line with the mountains that surround the village.
Food and goat cheese
“I have transferred the chef’s job to others and now take life more calmly. I have an overview of all the guest houses, and I make jam, goat cheese and strong wine which is sold in my shop”, says Antonio, now 74 years old.
Several families with roots in El Acebuchal followed and restored old houses, all following a common architecture and the Andalusian tradition. More than 30 houses have been rehabilitated with whitewashed facades and many are holiday-homes.
Writing on the Wall
They say walls have ears, doors have eyes and trees have voices.
On a wall in the village, we found this poem, a tribute to beautiful Acebuchal. “You are the source of inspiration, built with stone on stone” tells the unknown writer.
Como te quiero
Como te anoro
Fuiste la fuente
De una mujer
Piedra sobre piedra
Cal y barro con ardor.
Tu eres la Jerusalem
Ciudad hecha con amor.
Tu eres de nadie
Tu eres una flor
Una flor perenne
Que nacio del amor.
Walk back in time
A walk through the town is definitely an experience – a walk back in time when 120 people were forced out of the village. But a building stands there almost broken down – as a reminder and warning of a dubious past in Spain.
Acebuchal is back and rehabilitated as a city of joy, ready to welcome tourists who want to find delight in the tranquility of a unique place. A small chapel also stands out, ready for both wedding and baptism.
The last part of the road from Frigiliana up to El Acebuchal makes the ride an extra excitement. The serenity, silence and extraordinary landscapes around El Acebuchal make it an incredible destination for a relaxing getaway – without connection on your mobile.
Facts El Acebuchal
Where: Near Nerja on Costa del Sol and close to Frigiliana. 9km from Frigiliana to El Acebuchal.
Here to stay: Flats and houses with up to four bedrooms. Some has shared private pool, terrace and barbecue.
The food: Restaurant El Acebuchal serves fresh produced food, some rare meat of game, with freshly baked bread with olive oil and oregano. The food is cooked as it was 50 years ago.
Level of beauty: It has two streets and the whole area preserved an aura of a charming white village.
Why visit: Every corner has its charm and view great work of restoration.
Lost village address: El Acebuchals, Turismo rural, Calle la Cueva, 29788 Frigiliana, Málaga.