Trip to Villa Antiopa, Benaque and Macharaviaya – March 2023

Romans, a Spanish Poet and a family who produced playing cards & whose son founded Galveston in Texas.
On Friday 24th March, 34 of us embarked on an interesting visit, all locations this side of Malaga.  Because of this, we started later and had no breakfast stop.

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Our reservation at the newly opened museum of the Villa Antiopa was at 10.00 and we divided into 2 groups, in order to be able to see the exhibits clearly. After years of preparation, it is a wonderful display with artefacts in glass cases around the walls before using the walkways to view the floor mosaics. One of the exhibits, is a small head of the Roman God of wine, Bacchus. It had been unearthed, practically in tact but with no base. Other artefacts include pieces of terracotta and metal tools and example of the tiny pieces of mosaics.  There are videos with English sub-titles at various places within the museum – most helpful.  Certainly, a very worthwhile visit.
We then boarded the bus to visit Benaque and Macharaviaya.  The views while travelling inland are amazing.  At the junction of the 2 roads, one to Benaque and one to Macharaviaya, is a monument in praise of the Galvez family, for what they implemented for Macharaviaya : a water system , a school for girls and boys with cash prizes for the best students.  And, they created a factory for producing playing cards, which had royal approval.
This where we were joined by Katie, the former Deputy Mayor of Macharaviaya, who was to be our guide. We went first to the birthplace of Salvador Rueda, a journalist and poet. His family home is small but furnished as it would have been and there is a video about him with English subtitles. We then went to the church, which is very imposing but had been derelict for a long time with no roof.  When repairs started, they found that there were frescos around the walls, which had been protected by the cal (lime wash). On one of the frescos, is a date of 1594.  The church was built over a Mosque.
We boarded the bus again for the short journey to Macharviaya, which is nestled in to the Malaga countryside. The air seems so clean and fresh. There is a statue to Bernardo Galvez, founder of Galveston which is close to the local primary school.
We then visited to Galvez Museum which has much information about the history of the family and of the village.  There was also a temporary exhibition about the connection between Spain and the U.S.  Each year, on the Saturday nearest to the 4th July, Macharaviaya celebrates.  Unfortunately, the church was closed as was the crypt as there was to be a presentation that evening of a book about the Galvez family.  This book, together with family documents, had been found in a secondhand book shop in Madrid.  It was purchased and the Ayuntamiento was able to acquire it.  It will be on display in the Museum – sadly, we couldn’t see it on this visit.
We then adjourned for a most enjoyable lunch at the local restaurant, delicious food prepared by 2 young male chefs and then boarded the bus for our return journey to Nerja. Lots of information to absorb but most interesting.
Christina Sinclair
Nerja History Group