The white village of Riogordo © Michelle Chaplow
The white village of Riogordo (Click to enlarge image) © Michelle Chaplow


by Chris Chaplow

Riogordo is a very pretty village in La Axarquía, near Lake Viñuela with the dramatic mountain backdrop of the Sierra del Rey and Alto de Gomer. This is an area of stunning natural beauty.

The village was named after the river La Cueva that runs through it - the waters were "fat" with (full of) minerals. The population is about 3,000.

Riogordo is best reached from Malaga via the main roads, Casabermeja (A-45) and Colmenar (A-356). Alternatively, if you have plenty of time, take the direct route, the old Malaga to Granada A-7000 road through the 'Montes de Malaga'.  


Ancient tombs dating back to Phoenician times have been discovered at the foot of the Sierra del Rey Mountains. Roman remains were also found, demonstrating the importance of this village over the centuries. The location was probably chosen for the Castillo de Aute, which was first a Visigothic castle then became Moorish fortress; now it is a ruin. The present location of the village was the site of the Catholic Monarchs' base camp in their battle to take Velez-Malaga.The hamlet became a village in its own right in 1552 and the first mayor was Francisco Hernández.

Around the 17th century, livestock farming and sweet wine production began to bring great prosperity to this village. The population grew until 1882, when the devastating phylloxera plague destroyed the vineyards.

"El Cura de Riogordo", José A. Muñoz Sánchez, was the main character of the town who became famous for harassing the French during the War of Independence (1810) against Napoleon. In addition to being a priest, he was captain of a cavalry squadron and led the assault on the French garrison at Arenas. 

Riogordo is a very pretty Axarquía village in the vicinity of Lake Viñuela
Riogordo is a very pretty Axarquía village in the vicinity of Lake Viñuela.


Ruta del Aceite y los Montes

Riogordo is also one of the seven villages of La Axarquía (Riogordo, Colmenar, Alfarnate, Alfarnaterjo Periana, Alcaucin, La Viñuela) that make up the Ruta del Aceite y los Montes (Route of Olive Oil and Mountains).

Things to See

The centre of the village is the Plaza Constitucion which has limited parking, with a small supermarket, some shops and a couple of bars. The Plaza Constitucion is a good place to start a walk, with small monuments and a fountain at one end.

Ermita de San Sebastian
This small baroque chapel in Calle Real dates from the 17th century, with ared-trimmed white wall. Actively used by the villagers, you can part the heavy red velvet curtains and enter the cool dark single-nave chapel. Inside a niche behind glass is an image of Jesus Nazareno.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Gracia,
Church of Our Lady of Grace is the main village church, with a square tower; built in 1490 century, it was restored in 2012. The church consists of three naves divided by semicircular arches on rectangular pillars. Climb the steps from the Plaza Constitution and walk along Calle Horno to Calle de la Iglesia.

Museo Etnografico of Riogordo
The Museum of Ethnographyon Calle de la Iglesia is interesting and worth a look around. It comprises of three elements: a casa señorial (mansion), an olive mill with miller's house, and a flour mill.More> 

Bus ServicE 

M-251  Málaga-Colmenar-Riogordo      
M-365 Málaga-Riogordo via Torre de Benagalbón


Local handicrafts popular in Riogordo are wicker work, wrought iron, and leather.


The Riogordo cuisine includes snails in broth, cooked chickpeas, mushrooms, gazpacho made from of green beans, homemade sausages and also donuts. 


Carnival in February

El Paso de Riogordo (Easter passion plays in Semana Santa - Holy Week) - Good Friday and Easter Saturday

Fiesta del Candil - 7 September

May Fair - 27 to 29 May

Día del Caracol - 1 June (350kg of snails are boiled in a stew which is given out for free.) 

Summer Feria - 14 to 18 August


During Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week) there is a very special event in Riogordo. Over 500 villagers take part in an amazing re-enactment of the life and death of Jesus. Described as "natural theatre", an audience of up to 6,000 people can witness this incredible spectacle. All the participants are dressed in the biblical-period clothing. Dramatic scenes, including Jesus on the Cross, the Sermon on the Mount, the Last Supper,Judas Betraying the Lord, etc. are carried out with great sensitivity and solemnity. 

The event, Fiesta of National tourist interest in Spain and in Andalucia. Whilst its origin dates back earlier it has taken place continuously since 1951. There are 17 different scenes acted over three hours.

This event, set in the natural landscape, is held on Holy Friday and Saturday each year at 16:30 hrs. 

Tickets can be purchased from the Paso box office in El Calvario church in Riogordo, from 13.30 p.m. on the day of the performance. Tickets can also be reserved in advance online at bought



Hover the cursor over Riogordo to see bigger map and click to go to the maps page.