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Mijas Pueblo is a typical Andalucian white town (pueblo blanco) and makes a lovely daytrip from the coast being easily accessible from the A7 and less than 10km from Fuengirola.
The most famous inhabitants of Mijas Pueblo are the donkeys which, in their capacity as burro taxis, have their own special parking area in Plaza de la Virgen de la Pena.
The donkeys are Andalucian donkeys, a native breed, and have been used as working animals for hundreds of years. The practice of offering rides to tourists, however, is fairly recent and dates back to the 1960s. Apparently, when the first influx of holidaymakers to the area saw local workers returning home with their donkeys they persuaded the workers to let them pose with (and on) their donkeys for that all important holiday photo. Some tourists went one step further and asked to be taken for a ride at which point the workers realised that they could make money (sometimes more than their actual wage) doing this and so the burro taxi was born.
With their colourful livery it’s true that they are more than Instagram worthy but they aren’t without controversy. Although each donkey is registered with the local municipality, their working conditions monitored (each has an official taxi number plate), and they are inspected every six months, many people consider the practice of allowing them to carry tourists around the village to be cruel. A charity, El Refugio del Burrito, has been working to improve conditions for donkeys and mules in Spain and you can read more about their work in Mijas here.
Personally, I’d rather not take a donkey ride, particularly on a scorching summer day, so I settled for a photo opportunity on the bronze donkey statue next to the Tourist Office in the town centre.
So apart from the donkeys what else does Mijas Pueblo have to offer?
As with all the white towns sometimes a leisurely meander through the cobbled streets is enough to while away a few hours.
However, the Hermitage (La Ermita de la Virgen de la Pena de Mijas) is definitely worth a visit. It’s a beautiful little chapel which has been carved into the rock and, inside, the walls are decorated with shells. It’s free to go in and take a look – it’s only small but not to be missed.
Next to the Hermitage there are some gardens with spectacular panoramic views of the entire coast and the Malaga mountains.
We’d noticed a small white church on the hillside above the town as we drove up to the village. This is the Ermita del Calvario and, although it only opens for worship on Good Friday each year, it was a lovely walk up through the trees. There were very few other people walking that way and, once we reached it, the views back down over the village and to the sea were stunning. The track does continue to the top of the Mijas Sierra but, as I’d only worn my flip flops, I sensibly decided to give it a miss! Something for my next trip…
If you’ve been to Mijas I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for things to do as I’ll definitely be back.