Welcome to Cártama, a picturesque town and municipality in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia, southern Spain. With a population of approximately 15,000 residents, Cártama is one of the most extensive towns in the province, covering c. 150 km2 (58 sq mi) and situated approximately 17 km (11 mi) from Málaga. Its strategic location on a natural route from the coast to the interior made it an obvious place to settle, and the area has been successively occupied by Iberians, Tartessians, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines and Arabs until it was finally conquered by the Christians in 1485. Today, the town is a charming blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the traditional Andalusian way of life.
Geographically speaking, Cártama is situated in the heart of the Guadalhorce valley, at the foot of two small sierras, and surrounded by thousands of orange and lemon trees, which form part of the Hoya de Málaga, 17 km (11 mi) from the provincial capital. From its main vantage point, the Hill of the Virgin, visitors can admire the different communities which make up the town: Cártama Pueblo, the ancient town with a 3000-year history and streets laid out in Moorish style; Estación de Cartama, which has its origin in the 1865 railway station; El Sexmo, Doñana, Aljaima and the Sierra de Gibralgalia, with views of the whole valley as far as Coín, Álora, Casarabonela and Málaga itself. The original town, Cártama Pueblo, stretches across the steep side of the Hill of the Virgin (240 m over the sea level) with its buildings and roads following the contours of the hill, reflecting the varied topography of the area. One of the town’s most well-known features is the iron bridge (the green bridge or puente verde) over the Guadalhorce river, which provided access between Estación and the pueblo before its replacement by a more modern road bridge. This area has been restored as a recreational area, and an extensive riverside leisure area is now planned.
If you’re a history buff, Cártama has plenty of fascinating sights to explore. The Hermitage of Our Lady of the Remedies (La Ermita de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios), situated on the Hill of the Virgin, is a beautiful building that has been designated a building of historical and cultural interest. It was built on the site of a previous Hermitage from the 15th century and commands superb views of the surrounding area. A remnant of the Roman period is the 2nd-century AD column, called the Humilladero Cross, after the forged iron cross attached to its top, which is incorporated into the town’s heraldic crest. The castle, which dates back to the 10th century when the city was ruled by the Moors, sits astride a ridge dominating the surrounding area and offers wonderful panoramic views. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, its strategic situation meant that it became one of Málaga’s more important defenses, guarding against access from the Guadalhorce valley, which was one of the easier routes to mount an attack on the capital. Its construction is typically military, with a double defensive enclosure; it was well equipped to resist siege, as it had two wells, dug in the time of the Caliphs.
Apart from its rich history, Cártama is also famous for its festivals and ferias. The main festival of the year takes place in April to honor the town’s patron saint, La Virgen de los Remedios. The fiesta is followed by a cattle fair and has recently been designated a Fiesta of National Touristic Interest by the Tourist Board of Andalusia. In May, Estación holds its feria to celebrate the Saints Day of its patron, San Isidro. On the first Sunday in May, the town holds the Verdiales festival, which is a traditional country song and dance festival with competing groups from Álora, Pizarra, Almogía, and Cártama taking part. This event, held at the Ermita de las Cruces, has been declared an Event of National Tourist Interest. There are many other annual events, including the return of La Virgen to the Ermita in early June, the festival of San Juan in late June, and the September Cattle Fair. The El Sexmo fair, held in the second week of September, lasts for four days. The Día de los Canastitos is held on Saint Ann’s day on the banks of the Río Grande and features people arriving with baskets of fruit and bread, and the Verdiales which feature the old wheel dances.
Overall, Cártama is an enchanting destination that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring the town’s ancient streets, admiring its stunning vistas, or sampling its mouthwatering local cuisine, Cártama is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit. So why not add this hidden gem to your travel bucket list today?