As I’m about to fly to Spain this week, I was reminded I had a few pictures of my Spanish adventures last year to share here. I’m going to be honest I had written off most of the coast as a sterile destination full of overdeveloped sea resorts. There are certainly quite a few of those but let me tell you, I had to eat my hat hard.
While travelling along the South Coast, I was completely blown away by the variety of landscapes: from towering sea cliffs to green valleys via miles of desert (it’s no wonder that the old Hollywood crowd used to come here to shoot some of their classic Western movies). It dawned on me that this would be the perfect setting for an epic road-trip. Besides these, there are adorable villages of white-washed cube houses resting on top of hills. Like, for instance, Mojacar. It’s just too charming and I thought it had a certain air of Santorini.
But Mojacar is not only a pretty face, it is an important historical crossroad and it also has the strangest legend involving America’s most famous figure of all time.
Located in the province of Almeria, the old pueblo of Mojacar is nestled at the top of a hill facing the Mediterranean sea and the tourist resort of Mojacar playa. It is thought to have been populated since the Bronze Age. It’s been under the rule of the Greeks, Rome and in the 8th century, the Moors took over. The town was actually once on the frontier with the Christian civilisation to the East which led to many invasions and blood baths in the 15th century. Up until a pact of free association was agreed between the local Moors, Jews and Christians at the fountain Fuento Moro, which you can still visit today. Locals regularly come here to fill up plastic bottles.
Mojacar bloomed for centuries as it welcomed diverse traders inside its walls but ultimately it fell into decay in the 19th century. In the 1960s, the local mayor reversed the trend by giving away pieces of land to a community of artists. Today the town is an interesting combination of different architecture styles basked in a bohemian aura. Amongst the expected souvenir shops, you’ll find arts and crafts shops as well as vintage sellers.
It’s better to explore the meandering alleyways by foot, you can pick up Mojacar map from the tourist centre. You’ll notice along the way many beautiful details: iron-wrought doors and windows, potted plants, vibrant bougainvillea, blue tiles, orange trees and the Moorish pebble-covered paths which were thought to be beneficial for the back. You will also notice that several house-fronts sport a match-stick man carrying a rainbow. This is the Indalo (or Mojacar Man), a drawing from the Bronze Age found in a nearby cave and thought to cast off the evil eye and bring good luck. This symbol of Mojacar became so popular that it now represents the whole province of Almeria. The town also features a couple of miradors which boast spectacular panoramic views stretching to the Mediterranean Sea. Mirador del Castillo is the highest point of town, you shouldn’t miss it!
Now onto that bizarre local legend… Rumour has it that Mojacar is actually the birthplace of Walt Disney. I know, crazy, right? It is believed he was the child of an illegitimate liaison and emigrated later in the US. The Guardian has an interesting article on the subject if you’re into your conspiracy theories *grins*