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La Venta: the story behind a unique house, in an unique location

How 'stories' and 'History' meet in one house, and how one man revived it from oblivion.

It is standing there, on the gentle hills facing the Mediterranean, the outposts of Sierra Nevada. One would says it has always been standing there. Its massive construction, thick walls, suggest that the builders did want this house to last.

Indeed everyone in the area would tell you that La Venta is one of the, if not the oldest house they know around. No one though will be able to say how old it is. Can the secret of its age maybe be found in its name? Venta means in Spanish 'sale'. Not excessively poetic, but when you know that the house is located in a scarcely inhabited area, you wonder what could be sold there, and to whom.. Actually this name could also apply to an inn. This hints to another direction. The house is in fact placed just at the edge of 'Camino Real', the name for a path of the ancient way running along the coast and used by all populations and cattle long before car was invented. In fact, Camino Real (Royal Route) was since the Romans the main connection between Gibraltar and the east of the country. It is even said that Hannibal and his army of horses, men and elephants used this path on their way from Africa to the Alps and further to nowadays Italy. It makes now more sense that an inn would have been placed here, as a stopover for the tired travelers and adventurers all along centuries.

The original inn was probably replaced since then. In more recent times, the current Cortijo la Venta has been home to families in Cantarrijan until the 1970-80's. That is when a massive exodus took place for younger people in direction of the nearby towns of Nerja and Almuñecar. In just a handful of years, the valley that once was home for dozens of indigenous inhabitants was totally deserted. After that, only the elderly men come daily from the village to take care of some piece of land, while houses would be left without a soul, some starting to deteriorate.

And this is when it was bought, in 2005, by a German artist, Michael Färber. Michael was not a newcomer in the area. He had already acquired, some 30 years earlier, a smaller house up the hill. Michael's started to clean the property, discovering all details and corners it concealed, like the original round stone platform, where in the past mules would thresh the wheat.

Today La Venta is not only a house for living again, it had become a piece of art in itself. As an example one can appreciate the massive rocks, on which the house is built, and now visible in several rooms. And enjoy the art from Michael himself in the form of a watercolor series on the theme 'Alice in Wonderland' , hanging and fitting amazingly on the lime white Andalusian walls.

We would say: all details are in place for a dreamy stay, in an uniquely dreamy place.

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La Venta, overlooking El Cañuleo

In the 1990's, left to the wild

Finally some attention and care..

Rocks and art, at every corner

On the walls, Alice in Wonderland by Michael Färber

'Era' where mules threshed wheat

The house in the 1960's, by Maurice Zalcman

La Venta: built to last


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