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Best Sights of Mijas
Mijas is one of the most charming white towns, with burro taxis. While being a big tourist center, it has kept much of its charm. Mijas is located high up on a mountainside and one has to ascend from the A7 highway. Mijas is a town that is prepared for tourism because they built a ten story parking garage several years ago that accommodates at least 600 cars. This is one of the few tourist towns that you do not have to worry about parking. The tourist office of the town is located on top of the parking building.
The town is quite ancient in origin, having been inhabited during the Bronze Age. Later came the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Moors, and finally the Christians.
Just beside the tourist office is the stand of the burro taxis. One can take pictures of the beautiful donkeys and take a ride on them. Behind the stand is a place where the donkeys can rest in the shade and have water. The town has regulations that mandate good care for the animals. Mijas is one of the few places left in Spain where one can ride a burro. News reports show that the burro is now an endangered species in Spain.
To the left of the burro stand is a little park that has been built on top of the old castle that protected the town. The little park is planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers. There is also a little fountain. There are lookout points along the edge of the park where you can see the coastline below and the city of Fuengirola. This is a good place to take pictures. At the end of the park is the Grotto of the Virgin de la Peña. The word peña means cliff in Spanish. A space has been hollowed out in the rock beside the castle walls and inside the space there is a chapel to the Virgin de la Peña, as well as a little room where the ceremonial clothes of the Virgin are kept.
The upper part of the town has many good stores and restaurants. There is a little church at one corner that is charming. On the street near the church is the Wine Museum, which is a store that sells good wine and accessories for drinking wine. One can try different wines at their little patio for a nominal price. Upstairs in the store they sell beautiful Spanish shawls made of silk.
The lower town is located around the Plaza Virgen de la Peña. This is the main town square. On certain days of the week during summer the town has a free flamenco show in the morning at this plaza, which entertains the visitors. The town really wants to please its visitors and is quite organized about this. During the show they offer free glasses of wine to the tourists.
Mijas has the air of innocence, and yet one can find very good and sophisticated stores. And the views of the countryside and coast below the town are really breathtaking.
a. Grotto of the Virgin de la Peña
At the end of the park beside the burro taxi stand is the Grotto of the Virgin de la Peña. The word peña means cliff in Spanish. A space has been hollowed out in the rock beside the castle walls and inside the space there is a chapel to the Virgin de la Peña, as well as a little room where the ceremonial clothes of the Virgin are kept.
The grotto has a very interesting legend. In 1536 a man named Pedro Bernal lived in the town with his wife and two children, a boy called Juan (12 years old) and a girl called Asuncion (10 years old). On May 30 of that year, the children were playing where the park is now and saw a white dove that was very beautiful, much more so than the other doves. The dove alighted on them and they caressed it, before the dove flew away. The children told their parents when they went home about what they saw. The next day the children went back, and at the same time the beautiful white dove reappeared to them. When they went home and told their parents, the parents told them not to go back because something strange could happen to them.
So the next day the children stayed home. However the next day they returned to the spot and they heard a voice calling them. Beside the tower of the castle walls appeared the Virgin and Child in her arms, with the white dove on her shoulder. The boy asked her who she was, and she answered that she was the Mother of God. She told the children to tell their parents, the authorities of the town, and the town priest of what they saw. Her instructions were to remove her from the rock, where she had been inside for the last 500 years. The parents notified the authorities and the priest and the next day the whole town went to the tower, where the Virgin had appeared. The father went to the top of the tower and hit the rock where there was a hollow sound. He continued excavating the rock and found the Virgin, and the man fainted on seeing the Virgin.
The town gained fame because of this and there was a project to build a chapel in the same place, but nothing happened for many years. A pious hermit priest called Diego decided then to build the chapel himself. He continued excavating until the chapel was finished in 1682. The priest was buried in the chapel when he died.
b. Church of the Immaculate Conception
This church is also called La Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion, and was built in the upper part of the town on top of the ruins of the castle. One of the towers (the square one) of the castle was incorporated into the church as the bell tower.
The church was ordered to be constructed in the 16th century by the Bishop Bernardo Manrique. The finished church was consecrated in 1631.
There are three naves that are separated from each other by rounded arches supported by columns. The ceiling in the main nave is made of wood and is Mudejar in style. The Baroque elements are shown in the plaster moldings done in the church. In 1986 the church installed two stained glass windows that show the Inmaculada of Murillo and a memorial to the 400th anniversary of the Virgen de la Peña.
The side naves are dated from the first half of the 17th century. The nave of the Evangelist is decorated profusely with figures of acanthus leaves, fruits, and flowers. There are two paintings done by the artist Fernando Gomez Lobato in 1984 that represent the apparition of the Heart of Jesus to Saint Margarita Maria Alacoque and the other is of the disciples of Emaus. The nave of the Epistle has a semicircular cupola that is decorated with fruits. It has the coat of arms of the feudal lord of Mijas and the coat of arms of Mijas, done in 1705. Under each chapel are crypts where burials took place.
The bell tower was reconstructed in 1979. There are two old bells. The larger bell weighs 680 kilos and was made in 1915 in Madrid, and is inscribed with "Father Jesus of the Anguished". The second bell weighs 200 kilos and is called Santa Teresa, from 1918 and refurbished in 1984. Three new bells were added in 1980 with the names of Inmaculada, Santisimo Sacramento, and Santa Cristina.
In 1991 and 1992 the city hall reconstructed the roof and other parts of the church, including the wooden ceiling. During the reconstruction, eight frescos of the apostles were discovered on the columns, from an unknown painter from the Baroque age, and these have been recovered.
c. Museo Histórico-Etnológico de Mijas
The Museo Historico-Etnologico is located at the Plaza de la Libertad, 2, and entrance is free. There is a beautiul patio that is typical of Andalusia. The museum was inaugurated in 1995 in the old city hall and tries to recreate the Mijas of the past. There are utensils used in the kitchen, on the farm, for fishing, a bodega for wines, and a typical kitchen. Upstairs there is the bedroom where Manuel Cortes Quero hid for 30 years so as not to be found by the Franco regime. The museum shows how olive oil was extracted from the olive fruits. There are also a carpenter shop and a place where bread was made. This is a very interesting museum.
d. Plaza de la Constitución
The Plaza de la Constitucion is one of the plazas in town. The marble artisan Galiano was the one who constructed the fountain and benches made of marble in 1884.
e. The Lookout Point, Walls, and Gardens
On the part of town close to the burro taxi station, one can find the lookout point, see the old walls, and enjoy the gardens. The gardens were designed to have flowers the whole year. The lookout point gives a visitor one of the best views of the coastline.
During the 1960s, workers returning home where asked by tourists to pose with their burros and to give them rides. The tips the workers received were bigger than the wages they earned in the fields. So the workers decided to have the burro-taxi as a way of earning their living. The City Hall has constructed a place where the burros can be stationed and taken cared of in humanitarian conditions. This attraction is probably the most popular in Mijas. A ride costs about 10 euros.
g. Hermitage of San Sebastian
The Hermitage of San Sebastian was built at the end of the 17th century. There is only one nave. The main chapel is square and is topped with a semispherical vault and has many plaster decorations. There is a camarin with a sculpture of Jesus Nazareno, the work of Antonio Castillo Lastrucci. In the 18th century the sculpture of San Sebastian arrived at the hermitage, as well as the sculpture of San Jose with the Child Jesus.
h. Flamenco Show
There is a free flamenco show in the Plaza Virgen de la Peña every Wednesday at 12:00 H, the whole year. During July and August, there is another free flamenco show on Thursdays at 21:30 H.
Mijas has 12 km of coast line, which includes Calahonda Beach, Cabo Rocoso Beach, El Bombo Beach, Butiplaya Beach, La Cala Beach (a Blue Flag beach), El Charcon Beach, El Faro Beach, Piedra del Cura Beach, and El Egido Beach. During the summer months, all the beaches have life saving facilities.