In Ojen life passes very calmly. Just like the nearby Istan, it is not an important touristic destination, but still many people come here who look for countryside calmness among Andalusian hills. That is why tourism is an important source of income here. I really appreciate unique places, those that differ from Frigiliana and Mijas Pueblo, where during summer it is very crowded and noisy, Here, tranquillity dominates.
Ojan is situated on the slope of Blanca y Alpujarra mountains, in a picturesque Sierra de las Nieves range (snowy mountains/not to be confused with Sierra Nevada), only 9 km away from Marbella. The history of the settlement in Ojen goes as far back as to the Middle Palaeolithic, but it was the time of the Arab rule, which started in 711, that gave it – and similar towns in Andalusia – a unique charm. The name comes from the Arabic Joxan – rough and hard, later is was spelled Hoxen, Oxen, and finally Ojen. It is famous for, just like Istan, perfectly led water trails going under the town and providing it with life-giving fresh water, thanks to which it is possible to cultivate crops in this hot climate.
Many centuries later, in 1485, the people of Ojen changed their ruler to the Catholic king, Ferdinand. The Moors were banished from the area in 1609, and after another two centuries, in 1807, Ojen became administratively dependant on Marbella.
In front of the entrance to the town from the main parking lot, you will find the spring called “El Chorrillo”, which is famous for top quality fresh water. The streets in the town are very narrow and steep, and near them, there are traditionally flowered, modestly decorated with azulejos whiten facades of Andalusian houses. Many overlooks offer a beautiful landscape of mountains mixing with the sea, and you can also watch the “terrace” life of the local people, because from the higher points, you can see roofs and “solariums” of local residences very well. On one of the higher tiers, there are Cueva de las Columnas caves – the natural monuments from karst, which originally were used to hold animals – they make the walk around the neighbourhood much more interesting. As in all towns like this, the centre is composed of a square with a church La iglesia de la Encarnacion from the sixteenth century, built on top of the old mosque, the remains of which is minaret turned into a bell tower. In the town’s centre, near the church, there is a charming fountain called Fuente de los Chorros, which is a symbol of the town and which offers fresh water.
There is an event that many people wait all year for: one of the most important and the oldest flamenco festivals in Spain called El Festival Flamenco Castillo del Cante. Many famous flamenco artists have performed on the scene.
Ojen cuisine is mainly based on local products, such as: leguminous plants, vegetables, venery, goat cheese, milk and fruit from local orchards and villages. It is characteristic for the local people to use dill as seasoning. If you enjoy Andalusian cuisine, you will like ajoblanco (characteristic for this region) and exquisite gazpacho with grape and almond.
I recommend visiting El Museo del Molino de Aceite (the building is situated right next to the main parking lot), where you can find original machines used to mince olives, and the Museum of Wine situated in an old distillery producing the famous Spanish ojen’s brandy.
Once you finish walking around Ojen, you should go a bit further near El Refugio de Juanar – to Mirador de Juanar from which you can enjoy the view of the local summits and the sun coast… BREATHTAKING!
BY bus from Marbella. If you go by car, right before the town, there is a large and comfortable parking lot. You can stay here in RV as well.
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