Hidden Gem: Malaga’s enchanted forest

Malaga's enchanted forest.

The guardian of the forest. Credit: Raseca78/Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

In 2024, Parauta, a town nestled in the Serrania de Ronda, Malaga, joined ‘The Most Beautiful Towns in Spain,’ an accolade celebrating its picturesque charm and family-friendly attractions.

Steeped in the heritage of its Andalucian past, Parauta boasts white-washed houses and Arab-tiled roofs, with narrow lanes meandering between them.

The town stretches to the edge of the Sierra de Las Nieves Natural Park, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its significant ecological value.

Among its urban treasures are the ancient Holm Oak of Valdecilla, one of the world’s oldest, and the 16th-century Church of the Purisima Concepcion.

The enchanted forest of Parauta

Venture just outside the town to find El Bosque Encantado, a magical forest created by local artist Diego Guerrero. Stretching for nearly one kilometre, the trail is dotted with sculptures of wizards, elves, and fairies.

Each July, Parauta transforms into a mythical wonderland during the Enchanted Forest Festival, illuminated by over 3,000 candles.

The whole experience is designed to be a delightful experience for visitors of all ages, making it the perfect family outing.

Cultural heritage and activities

Other historical sites include the Fuente de la Alqueria, a fountain linked to a medieval farmhouse, and the Fuente del Pozuelo, still used to water local orchards.

The lower town retains an Arab influence with its cobbled streets and the 16th-century El Altillo Street Arch, showcasing local masonry skills. Throughout the town, commemorative tiles narrate the life and traditions of the area, like the old oil mill and esparto crafts.

Beyond Parauta: Natural wonders

The Tajo de Ronda, a stunning natural monument since 2019, splits the city of Ronda with its dramatic gorge and offers sanctuary to rare bird species.

Meanwhile, the Buitreras del Guadiaro in the nearby Alcornocales Natural Park provides a tranquil hiking route, with a swimming spot at the river’s mouth and a viewpoint overlooking a vulture nesting site.

Parauta is a testament to the blend of natural beauty and rich history, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the charm of Malaga and the broader Serrania de Ronda.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.