A winding road takes us, amid mountains, to this small village in the region known as Axarquía, some 30 kilometers from Málaga. It seems surprising that out of so remote an area should rise a family that would play such a remarkable role in some extraordinary episodes of Spanish history. The Galvezes, a noble but impoverished agrarian family, had been living in the area for some 300 years before their spectacular social ascent to the highest political and military circles of Spain and North America in the late 18th century. The most notable members of the family were José, Secretary of the Indies, and his brother Matías, Viceroy of New Spain. The most renowned among them would be Matías’s son, Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, hero of Pensacola, and today Honorary Citizen of the United States. His statue welcomes visitors to Macharaviaya.
Many of the small town’s steep and narrow streets, reminders of its Islamic heritage, were improved by the Galvezes, who also upgraded other urban aspects, including the access roads. Walking past the white facades of the houses, we notice one of the fountains that the family erected in 1780 to address the problem of water shortage. Just beyond it is the parish church, also built under their patronage. In the church crypt are José’s sepulcher and several statues representing all the members of the family. Nearby, a small municipal museum tells the story of Bernardo de Gálvez and his era.