The origin of its name is still unknown. Although the town’s origin is Arabic, no one knows exactly when it was inhabited.
Name of its inhabitants:
Alí ibm Ahmd ibn Muhammad Al-Hasní, was a poet born in Batarxis, in the district of Sayalonga at the start of the XIV century. He was the author of a history of the holy city of Mecca and of the governors of Muslim Málaga. Bisma I, born in the district of Sayalonga, in Curumbela, and king of Málaga was a learned monarch and great lover of the arts. The construction of the Alcazaba was finished during his reign.
Legend has it that the Cid, on one of his visits to the area, on his way through Sayalonga, drank from the fountain which today, in memory of that event, bears his name: Fuente del Cid (the Fountain of the Cid).
There is something of a legend in the amazing event surrounding the appearance in the mid-XIX century of the statue of the Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary), patron saint of the town, covered in sea water and scattered with scales and seaweed. Days later, some fishermen told the excited inhabitants how, when they were fishing, when night came, the sea became rough and wild, the boat was tossed about by the waves and the sailors lost their bearings; as a result they feared the worse. In the midst of the storm, they started to pray and, instantly, they saw to their amazement how a Virgin rose up from the sea and guided them to the coast.
On hearing the story the inhabitants understood why several days earlier the statue of the Virgin had appeared in the town, with traces of scales and seaweed. The sailors were taken by the crowds to the church and as soon as they saw it they recognized it; they knelt in front and prayed with devotion and thanksgiving.
Among the interesting things, people remember that during the first decades of last century, as there was no doctor, means of transport or sufficient money in the town, its inhabitants decided to treat some of the illnesses that ailed them with a great dose of imagination and went back to remedies their ancestors had used. Some of those remedies have been recovered in the interest of maintaining traditions.
Possibly one of the most interesting and surprising remedies used was the one used to treat jaundice. The patient had to go to the river and, for half an hour, had to concentrate on the water, follow its course with his eyes and think of nothing else. If he was not cured, they claimed that the relief felt was very considerable.
From an historic point of view, the origins of this village are a little unclear, although most experts agree that the Arabs were the architects, as no remains of any settlements have been found that outdate the Arab remains. What seems to be more clear is the Latin origin of its name: Saya-Longa, which means “long tunic”.
To the west of the village is the hill known as, Rábita de Sayalonga and nearby the settlement named, Batahis (Batarxis), which is nowadys uninhabited. The Rábita was a sanctuary or convent of “warrior monks” that was probably introduced by the Arabs from the 11th century on in order to defend the region. The settlement of Batahis dates back to the beginning of the 14th century according to the poet Alí Ibn Ahmd Ibn Muhammad Al-Hasní, who was famous for his stories about the Holy City of the Mecca and about the two Arabic governors that ruled in Malaga. It seems that this poet may even have been born there.
When the Catholic Kings finally captured Vélez-Málaga, the surrender of Sayalonga happened in very much the same way as the rest of the villages in the area. Not long after, the village was officially left to one side as far as the authorities were concerned, which caused the inhabitants to join in the Moorish uprising, and to be expelled along with them by the Christian troops. The battle of Frigiliana, in 1569, seems to have been the defining date for the defeat of their neighbouring village. The Lomo de Matormoros, which is located in the Camino de la Rábita, dates from this period as do the tombs of the Moors that have been found in the surrounding area
Felipe 2nd decreed a royal order in 1571 to confiscate all the Morís belongings and properties and fro the¡m to be handed over to the older Christians who had come from different parts of Spain. These “new” settlers kept up the agricultural activity that had been going on in the village up to then, including the terrace farming methods. These can still be seen in Sayalonga today.
The urban layout is just as it is to be expected of a Arabic village of its size; narrow windy streets with white-washed houses. A stoll through the streets brings the visitor to the Iglesia de Santa Catalina, which is dated from the 16th century. It is especially interesting because of the unusual circular cemetry. There is a farily large hamlet known as es Corumbela apart form Sayalonga’s village centre, and there are sevearl country estates scattered all over the municipality where a lot of foreign residents have set up home over recent years.
The geographic location of Sayalonga has had a lot to do with what kind of activities have been done there from the very start. On one side is La Rábita, which is a rocky outcrop which the village sits on, while on the other is the Río Céjula, which has been vital in the creation of a fertile land to cultivate. This river’s name has often been a bone of contention between the inhabitants from Sayalonga and those from the neighbouring Algarrobo. In fact, things have been so bad that each village refers to it as their river and uses the name that they choose. The agricultural activity is true to the Mediteranean area it is in; with the olive, the almond, and wine being the three most important crops. However, due to the very favourable climate, the local farmers have been able to grow some tropical fruit with great success as well, so now there are medlars, advocats, kiwi fruit, mangos and custard apples as well as the more traditional crops. In fact, over time these new ones are slowly overtaking the old ones in production, due to the demand on the open market.