After arriving at Malaga airport, you have a choice of two routes to the Alto Genal valley – and the jewel in its crown, Los Castanos! One goes along the Costa del Sol freeway (toll road) and then up a spectacularly scenic mountain road.
The alternative is gentler on the nerves as the ascent is more gradual and is my personal preference mostly because my romantic soul loves to see the lonely, evocative, hilltop fort of Teba where a fierce battle was fought in 1330.
|hilltop fort of Teba|
The story goes that in 1330 during crusading times, a knight called Sir James Douglas was on his way from Scotland to the Holy Land with the heart of Robert the Bruce in a silver casket hung around his neck. He was fulfilling the Bruce’s last wish to have his heart in Jerusalem. He was of course travelling by horse and accompanied by a band of knights.
En route, Black Douglas strayed into Andalucia to lend a hand with another crusade, the reconquest of Spain from the Moorish invaders of 711. He arrived in Teba just in time for a battle against the Sultan of Granada.
Things were not going too well for the Christians, so, hurling the silver casket into the fray, he yelled to the faltering troops: “Follow me, men!” They did and they all died that day.
The heart was recovered and returned to Scotland as were the remains of the knights. Many centuries later the Douglas family put up a memorial plaque in Teba in honour of their illustrious kinsman.
John Barbour, a contemporary poet, described this valiant knight:
- When happy, loveable was he,
- And meek and sweet in company,
- But those with him in battle saw
- Another countenance he wore!
So, as you drive by Teba, enjoying the sunflowers turning their sweet faces to the sun, spare a thought for the bitter bloody battles that were fought on this lonely hillside.