Alora enjoys a privileged location in the Guadalhorce Valley, which it overlooks from the north, standing atop a small hill. As well as its vegetable gardens, orchards and citrus trees, it also boasts interesting areas nearby, such as Los Gaitanes Pass (which it shares with Ardales and Antequera), the Sierra de Huma and the Sierra de Aguas. Its urban layout, of Arabic origin, gives it a special charm, which must be enjoyed without haste, due to the steep nature of its streets, which lead up to the symbol of the village: the castle, made even more curious by the fact that it is now used as a cemetery.
The highlight of Alora’s buildings is Our Lady’s Church.
Within the town boundary, at a spot known as Hoyo del Conde, prehistoric remains are to be found.
The Turdetans and, later, the Phoenicians found the Guadalhorce Valley the ideal place to set up colonies to exploit the natural riches of the plains which would also become strategic locations on the natural routes leading inland. The foundations of Alora Castle were laid by Phoenician settlers.
In Roman times, it was known as Iluro, while the Arabs called it Alura.
Alora was an important Roman town between 81 andl 96 A.D., as witnessed by the archaeological remains found here pertaining to the period, particularly a monolith -which today stands in the patio of the parish church- from the time of the emperor Domicianus, on which the words “Municipium Iluritanum” can be read. The town, linked to the Roman region of Betica, was, according to the historian Columela, an important trading centre for wheat, barley, honey, wine and oil, all easily obtained from the area’s land; its prosperity was such that Alora even minted its own coins.
It was conquered by the Vandals in the 5th century. Remains from the Visigoth period can be found in the fortress located atop Las Torres mount.
During the Moslem occupation, its privileged strategic location -the castle overlooks the whole of the Malaga basin- it was besieged by the Christian kings on numerous occasions. Alfonso VIII attacked in 1184. In 1319, Alfonso XI also tried to conquer the town. Later, John II, 1434, and Enrique IV, 1455 also attempted its capture. It must also have played a key role in the 11th-century rebellion led by the muladi (Christian convert to Islam) chief Omar Ben Hafsun against the Caliphate of Cordoba, due to its proximity to Bobastro, where Omar gathered his forces. Its reputation as an impregnable fortress gave rise to one of the most beautiful of the frontier ballads: the Ballad of Alora, which refers to the town as “the well besieged” and which can be seen reproduced on a tablet embedded in the castle walls.
The town finally fell into Christian hands on 10 June 1484. The attacking troops, who bore the banner of the Catholic Monarchs, were led by Captain Don Luis Fernandez Portocarrero.
After the Christian conquest, the town’s inhabitants continued to live inside the fortress, and the original parish church, now the cemetery chapel, was built on the foundations of a former mosque. With the passage of time, the town began to spread to the foot of the hill.
A decree issued by Philip IV in 1628 saw Alora cease to belong to the city of Malaga “for evermore”, according to the exact wording of the document.
An earthquake left the original church in ruins in 1680, as well as destroying the older districts of the town.
The Castle, witness to so many deaths in attempts to capture and defend it, later became the town cemetery.