Definitions

primitive paintings

Nerja

Nerja is a tourism-oriented town on the Costa del Sol in the province of Málaga, which lies in one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions, Andalucía, on the country's southern, Mediterranean coast. It lies about 50 km east of the city of Málaga, and is within 1 hour 15 minutes drive of the Alhambra in the city of Granada, and 30 minutes more to skiing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

History

Nerja has a short history, evidenced by the primitive paintings found in its famous Nerja caves, discovered in 1959, and now Spain's third most-visited tourist attraction (after the Prado in Madrid and the Alhambra Palace). These caves are now believed to be just one entrance to a linked series of potholes stretching many miles into the mountains between Nerja and Granada, and which may yet prove to be one of the most extensive unexplored systems in Europe. Visitors to the caves will be able to view the remains of one of the ancient inhabitants of Nerja.

The Romans gave the settlement the name "Detunda", and it was later taken over by the Arabs. Under the Muslims, it became "Narixa", which means "abundant spring", and is the origin of its present name.

Its agricultural and silk products are said to have been famed throughout the Muslim world and in the markets of Damascus as early as the tenth century. The aqueduct in the illustration is not as old as it might appear, but was built to supply water to the sugar plantations in the 19th century.

The Balcón de Europa, a mirador or viewpoint which gives stunning views across the sea, is in the centre of the old town. Its name is popularly believed to have been coined by King Alfonso XII, who visited the area in 1885 following a disastrous earthquake and was captivated by the scene. Local archive documents are said to show that its name predated this visit, but this has not prevented the authorities from placing a life-sized (and much photographed) statue of the king standing by the railing.

The Balcón area was originally known as La Bateria, a reference to the gun battery which existed there in a fortified tower. This emplacement and a similar tower nearby were destroyed by British led forces under Major General Blayney in 1810 to deny their use to French occupying forces during the Peninsular War.

Modern Nerja

In more modern times, sugar cane production has given way to more valuable cash crops, particularly semi-tropical fruits such as mango and papaya and widespread avocado plantations in what is one of the major avocado growing regions in Europe.

It is the eastern-most town in the area known as the Axarquía and has an official population of around 22,000 (in 2008) — nearly 30% of which are foreign residents, including around 2,600 British — although the true expatriate population is probably at least twice that. In the summer months, tourism swells the population several times more.

Nerja has several beaches set in charming coves beneath cliffs and one of the best climates in Europe. It is also becoming a significant centre for walkers, thanks to the dramatic mountain scenery of the nearby Sierra de Almijara and Sierra Tejeda. The Sierra de Burno overlooks the town and provides an imposing challenge to climbers. Those who are willing to test their mountain skills to the full will find the southern route up this mountain especially rewarding. Nerja is also the centre of scuba diving on the Costa del sol, with the Natural Park of Maro - Cerro Gordo nearby. On the famous Burriana Beach which is one of few EU-classified blue flag beaches, you will find several opportunities for water sports. Burriana Beach also has its own webcam for checking todays weather, beach conditions and parking Burriana Beach Webcam

Twin towns

Literary Nerja

Nerja has long been a source of inspiration for expatriate writers and artists, such as French born Author Andre Launay. Jorge Guillen and Federico Garcia Lorca were longtime visitors and residents of the town.

Nerja in popular fiction

Fictional books that are set wholly of partly in Nerja include:

  • Balcony of Europe, a novel by the Irish writer Aidan Higgins, who based it on his Bohemian life in the village in the early 1960s.
  • Leisure, early 21st century pulp fiction about sunseeking holidaymakers, by English author Kevin Sampson.
  • Encarnita's Journey, by Joan Lingard. The novel features a Spanish woman living in Nerja in the last decades of the 20th century, whose life story spans 8 decades in places which also include the Alpujarras in the time of the writer Gerald Brenan, and Almuñécar during the time of the Spanish Civil War.
  • "The Enigmatic Mr Phelps", by Canada based English international Crime Writer; David B. Green, was set in Nerja during the period 1997 thru 2004 and includes many references to contemporary Nerja and the surrounding area. Part ONE of the two part novel features "32-Red", a fictional restaurant located on C/Carabeo. The fictional character of "Phelps" is often confused with the real life of the author. www.theoscarphelpsnovels.com

Nerja in non-fiction works

Books describing the experience of British immigrants to the Axarquia include:

  • Life in the Campo, by Maggie Hutton
  • A New Life in Spain, by Toby Wolrych
  • Tomorrow is Mañana in an Andalusian Village, by the Australian travel writer Shirley Deane, who lived in Nerja in the mid 1950s.
  • The Xenophobe's Guide to the Spanish, by Drew Launay - the French-born author who currently resides in Nerja.
  • Madrid & Southern Spain, by Drew Launay.
  • Driving Over Lemons, A Parrot in the Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society by Chris Stewart (author)

External links

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