Featured White Village, Benahavis Pueblo
If you want to live in a traditional Spanish village brimming with history, fantastic scenery and hosting a thriving expat community, then Benahavís may well be the place for you.
Views to die for
This charming pueblo blanco, formed under Arab rule, is nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Serranía de Ronda mountains. The traditional Spanish village is surrounded by natural parkland, cork and pine groves, and is shaped by no fewer than three rivers: the Guadaiza, the Guadalmina and the Guadalmedina, each with its own valley.
Despite being situated right in the centre of a mountainous idyll, Benahavís is still only a ten-minute drive from the coast with the bright lights and resorts of the Costa del Sol within easy reach.
A brief history of Benahavís
Benahavís was founded towards the end of the 11th century and its name means ‘Son of Havis’ in Arabic after King Havis who ruled Montemayor Castle at the time. The castle’s position was key in the fraught battles between Andalucia’s Arab kings of the time and its ruins can still be visited today set against breathtaking views over the coast.
Fascinatingly, there are several underground passageways connecting the castle with the coast seven kilometres away and during ancient times the tunnels, large enough to fit a man on horseback inside, were used to transport soldiers, food and weapons to and from boats shored up on the beaches below.
Both castle and village were handed to the Christians in 1485 when Ferdinand and Isabella took control of Marbella and the surrounding region.
Benahavís is an ideal location for golf enthusiasts as it is surrounded by nine courses including La Zagaleta, an exclusive mansion club that has turned Benahavís into the richest town hall per capita in Andalucía. For those sports fans who want to get involved there are regular golf tournaments in the area and joining the Benahavis Golf Club enables members to play at local courses at discounted prices.
Benahavís is extremely well known for its cuisine and boasts a high number of top class restaurants. This is why for many, both Andalusians and expats alike, the word Benahavís is synonymous with fine dining and food.
Recommended destinations include El Castillo and the Amanhavis Hotel, where menus cover local, French, Belgian and Mediterranean cooking, and the dishes are of particularly high quality. For genuine foodies the village of Benahavís is one of the best places to live on the Costa del Sol.
Great sense of community
The flourishing expatriate community of Benahavís is comprised mainly of British, Scandinavian and Irish residents, ensuring it is practically impossible for any newcomer not to make friends here.
“One of the nicest things about Benahavis is that it is an established working village,” states local resident and photographer Daniel Posner. “That is something that is very important as an expat. A lot of urbanisations are in the middle of nowhere, with no real focus to them and you have to drive miles to get anywhere. In Benahavis, however, everything is close by. “You get to know a lot of people – if I’m walking into the village I have to make sure I have a lot of time because I always bump into so many people I know,” added Posner, who is from Britain and has lived in Benahavis for ten years. “It is really great if you have children as activities laid on by the town hall, such as the festivals, are put together with them in mind.”
Originally written in August 2012, updated by Adam Neal January 2019
Adam Neale | January, 2019