Algatocín - Archaeological Sites
Two kilometres to the north of Algatocin, is the lost settlement of Benamahabu. This deserted medieval village lost its name after the local uprising in 1568 and today the name survives only as a hilltop near the site. Located on the boundary between Algatocin and Benalauria, it sits on the side of a small and fertile valley, completely hidden from modern life. The only other clue is the arroyo, which takes its name from the long gone village. Benamahabu has left us nothing to show us of its past, but access is best via Benalauria. Following the Canada de Arroyo, it is less than a two-kilometre walk, hugging the same contour line. At the track starts to drop in an easterly direction, this is the time to head south, following the spur of land into the woods and the small streambed.
The community was never going to be large, as the landscape confined it to a parcel of fertile land and a small spring. The Christian census in 1492 recorded a population of 55, which rose to 62 four years later. However, the census of 1501 does not mention the community and it is probable that the population had already been moved by then to Benaluria or Algatocin.
Canada Real Road
The current road that skirts the edge of Algatocin only came into existence in the last 100 years. The original road or Canada Real was further up the slopes, connected to the village by a steep zig-zag side lane. (Oposite Calle Alta) It is also known as 'Vereda camino del Ronda' Part of the original road is paved and is said to be Roman though it is more likely to have been late medieval. The old road is 4 kilometres long and can be accessed just past the Venta at Puerto del Espino or at Km 26, just south of the road junction at Benalauria. In both cases the old route leads up, while the new road drops down towards Algatocin. Though no longer accessible by car, it is a public right of way and makes an interesting walk either way. On route an impressive fountain of Fuente de San Isidro can be seen. This was used as a watering hole, as the annual Romerio procession makes its way up over the mountain, onto the hermitage chapel at Salitre. Also along the way of the redundant highway, an old Venta can be seen with a group of houses. An indication that this was a major port of call as travellers made the long journey on horse back between Gibraltar and Ronda.
Man has inhabited the district of Salitre ever since the early Iberian period. The community that grew up on the hilltop overlooking the whole valley was called in the Roman period Vesci. This town was on the old road Via Ilvro Arvada, that linked the Bay of Algerciras to Ronda and onwards to Cordoba. More about Salitre and Vesci>