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El Acebuchal: Abandoned Village Becomes A Mecca For Rural Tourism In Spain

Aerial view of El Acebuchal, Spain
Aerial view of El Acebuchal [Image from Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0]
With its quaint villages, nestling in the countryside, Spain is already a remarkable destination for rural tourism. However, the village of El Acebuchal, which was abandoned in 1949, has been given a new lease on life as a true Mecca for rural tourism. Read on to find out more about the village’s troubled history and how it has now been transformed. Learn how to get there and where you can stay during your visit.

History of El Acebuchal in Spain

View over El Acebuchal
Aerial view of the village [Image @alojamientos_casas_rurales/Instagram]
The small village of El Acebuchal had a troubling past between the Spanish Civil War and the end of the 1940s. According to Sur in English, the few remaining residents had to abandon the village in 1949 after the Spanish dictator, Franco, banned people from living there. This was due to allegations that the village supported the maquis, a small resistance to his dictatorship, who, according to history books, took refuge in this hamlet on the slopes of the Almijara mountain range.

However, at the end of the 1990s after half a century, the small village in Malaga’s Axarquía region, began its second life. Some local people and the Cómpeta town hall started to refurbish the first of the village’s run-down houses. Gradually, the houses and streets were restored and in 2003, it was connected to the electricity supply and given access to running water.

The restoration work was done by many locals in the area, especially the Garcia family, who helped to reconstruct what had been the home of their parents and grandparents.

Rural tourism complex is born

Street in El Acebuchal
Street in El Acebuchal [Image @alojamientos_casas_rurales/Instagram]
After the major renovations, El Acebuchal, located in the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park, is now an authentic rural tourism complex. Set in nature, it is the ideal place for people to disconnect from their busy lives in a peaceful enclave.

Before the village was abandoned under the Franco regime, it was sparsely populated, as can be seen from the few houses in its streets and surroundings. However, in the past, the village played an important strategic role for the villages in the Almijara mountain range. These include Competa and the beautiful village of Frigiliana which lies 8 km (5 mi) away on tarmac and dirt tracks.

Street in El Acebuchal during a festival [Image @alojamientos_casas_rurales/Instagram]
In fact, El Acebuchal originates from the 18th century, when it was a place of passage for travelers and mule drivers who used to travel along the beaten paths. Now, the village’s center is small but lies next to the Acebuchal stream which flows along the road to Granada.

However, the village is far from other villages in the Axarquia region, which is known for its raisin farmers and wineries. However, a dense pine forest protects the tiny village from erosion on the slopes of the Sierra de Almijara.

Getting to El Acebuchal

Rural house for vacation rental
Rural tourism house [Image @alojamientos_casas_rurales/Instagram]
The village can be accessed by car from both Frigiliana and Competa. It takes around 15 minutes from Frigiliana and almost half an hour from Competa. Travelers should bear in mind that part of the route will be on dirt tracks with winding bends.

Alternatively, El Acebuchal can be accessed on foot, as it is now one of the major milestones on the sixth stage of the Gran Senda de Málaga hiking route, which links Frigiliana and Competa. Hiking from Frigiliana takes around two hours at an easy pace.

Rural vacation rental in Spain
Rural vacation rental on a misty mountain [Image @alojamientos_casas_rurales/Instagram]
On arrival in El Acebuchal, visitors can explore a pretty route through the two cobblestoned streets. Stroll past the colorful doors, windows and flower pots. Along the way, travelers will spot quaint sculptures and paintings of cats, poems and other elements that make the center unique.

These days, El Acebuchal boasts several rural houses that are available for vacation rental, including swimming pools. The village also has a restaurant and bar serving the local cuisine. Find out more about this pretty, rural tourism destination on the official website here.



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