The Axarquía region is riven by deep valleys lined with terraces and irrigation channels that date to Islamic times – nearly all the villages dotted around the olive-, almond- and vine-planted hillsides were founded in this era. The wild inaccessible landscapes, especially around the Sierra de Tejeda, made it a stronghold of bandoleros who roamed the mountains without fear or favour. Nowadays, its chief attractions include fantastic scenery; pretty white villages; strong, sweet wine made from sun-dried grapes; and good walking in spring and autumn.
The ‘capital’ of La Axarquía, Vélez Málaga, 4km north of Torre del Mar, is a busy but unspectacular town, although its restored hilltop castle is worth a look.
Some of the most dramatic La Axarquía scenery is up around the highest villages of Alfarnate (925m) and Alfarnatejo (858m), with towering, rugged crags such as Tajo de Gomer and Tajo de Doña Ana rising to their south.