Dont miss the Alpujarra villages when you visit Granada
I was reminded by one of my lovely readers that I didn´t have a blog about the Alpujarra. An oversight as it is actually the first place that comes to mind when I have time to venture out for the day.
The Alpujarra has an interesting history. This area was populated by the Moors in the 15th century. As Moriscos (praticising Catholics) they maintained their own distinct culture for nearly 150 years after the fall of Granada to the Catholic Kings in 1492. Many people also moved from Galicia and Leon in Northern Spain later in history, this explains why some of the village names are in gallego (galician).
The book The Hand of Fatima by Idlefonso Falcones gives a good account of this time period in the area. If you are interested in the history of Andalusia this is a great read.
It is an excellent area for walking and a delight for nature enthusiasts. The Alpujarras are all connected by footpaths allowing you to take several different routes.
If you decide to go walking in this area in summertime please be careful. Forest fires sadly burn across the Alpujarra each Summer, especially in season when rainful has been scarce. Back in 2005 a careless British hiker caused a fire that took 8 days to extinguish.
This happened just outside the popular Spa town of Lanjaron
Which Alpujarra Villages to see?
- As you arrive into the village, you´ll see the black cannon of Lanjaron on your right. If you look to the left, you can see a childrens playground. Just behind this park area is a water fountain. You can drink the famous mineral water from the ceramic fountain. It is usually busy with thirsty travellers and locals filling up bottles.
- A little further on as you come to Balneario de Lanjaron. The Spa hotel which is directly opposite Lanjaron tourist information.
- Why not go to have a treatment in the Spa? Local water has been used since 1770 due to its medicinal properties.
- The Castle of Lanjaron can been viewed from the town. Built between 8th and 9th century when Yusuf I was the ruler of Al Andalus. Now in ruins it remains a curious sight from the main road.
- Hotel Alcadima is a lovely place to stay in Lanjaron located opposite the Castle, just off the main road. They also have a restaurant open to non residents for lunch and dinner. As they use lots of local produce and vegetables in their dishes its somewhere I´ve been to many times.
Fiesta del Agua
- Lanjaron celebrates their main festival on 23rd June, the eve of San Juan. Known as the fiesta of Ham & Water. There is a huge water fight that last just for one hour. If you decide to join in the fun, make sure someone is waiting somewhere nearby with a fluffy towel. It gets chilly at night in the Alpujarra when you are completely soaked to the skin. It happened to me!
- Carrera del Agua – To take part you need to buy a bracelet from Tourist Information before the day. This is to control the amount of people in the area. Also as the road is closed off for the celebration if you want to go to Lanjaron that day parking is outside the town.
- The main town where the people from surrounding villages come to do their errands. Orgiva Market is held here on Thursdays.
- In Orgiva you can buy delicious pastries, chunky rustic bread and traditional cakes from La Tahona De Los Galindos. They are on the main street and have a coffee shop too. (they have a shop on San Anton in Granada city centre) I usually stock up on Pestiños each time I visit.
- Chris Stewart wrote the book Driving over Lemons lives in the area surrounding Orgiva, his book gives an unique insight into life in the Alpujarra area.
Pampaneira & Capileira
- These two villages are the most popular ones with visitors. Located in the Poqueira gorge. they are both on the list of ´Prettiest Villages in Spain´ Look out for the small shops in selling sweet local honey in coloured ceramic urns and local jam made in the mountain villages. Prickly pear, raspberry and plum flavours. You´ll see brightly coloured woven ´jarapa´ rugs or coverings hanging along the walls of the village too. There are never two alike!
- If you are still unsure what to take home in Pampaneira there is the chocolate factory, Abuela ili where you can buy lovely artisan chocolate or even have an ice cream. They also have 2 shops in Granada city. on Plaza Romanilla and just below El Corte Ingles on Carrera de la Virgen.
- Find out about Silk in the Alpujarra. See the looms at Taller Textil in Pampaneira or at Jarapas Hilacar in Bubion.
- Soportujar The first village you come to on the main road, Slightly less quaint but certainly authentic. At the entrance of the village don´t miss the Witches cave. ¨Cueva de la Bruja¨ Other highlights are the Viewpoint from Las Eras at the top of the village and the main square.
- Portugos Just before arriving into the village itself you will need to stop on the roadside. There is some space to park on the edge of the road. (Although it can get busy in warmer months) There is a small hermitage on the left and to the right of the road is a picnic area. Follow the steps down past the wooden tables to see the copper coloured waterfall below. This is called the Chorreon.
- In this village you can take snaps of the typical white Alpujarran chimneys or have a drink at Bar La Taha. The village of Pitres has an amusing tale to tell. In the past a politician wanting to gain favour among the people of the village, asked what they wanted for the area. The town folk said they wanted a port, so the men would have more work. He promised to bring to sea up to Pitres so that a port could be built if they voted him in.
- To remind visitors and villagers of this anecdote, in 2008 a plaque was uncovered at Motril port. It reads ´Port of Pitres´ At the entrance of the village you can see a boat and anchor too.
- Eat at el Jardin del Mirador which offers delicious sharing plates, vegetarian options and has a sweet little garden. Stay at La Oveja Verde for comfortable apartment style accomodation. A great base for those enjoying outdoors pursuits in the Alpujarra. Taste local chocolate at Chocolates Sierra Nevada at the entrance to the village. Dont miss the White chocolate infused with local pomegranates.
- The altitude of this village is 1476 metres (4,843 ft) above sea level. The fresh mountain air makes it perfect for preserving hams. On the 15th August the locals offer the Ham festival aimed at forasteros (non villagers) Hams from Trevelez are reknown for their quality and flavour. River Trout is a typical dish served here. On Wednesdays there is a market here. On 19 & 20 October they celebrate the livestock fair in the lower part of Trevelez. If you are looking to do hiking or outdoor activities in the area try treks with Spanish Highs a great experience with breathtaking landscapes.
- Mecina Fondales this small village has an excellent vegetarian restaurant & guesthouse run by a frenchman, which is only open in Summer season and some weekends. Check the website for details L´Atelier . If you like meat make sure you don´t leave the Alpujarra without trying the Plato Alpujarreño a dish with potatoes green peppers, chorizo, egg and black pudding
- Yegen. This quaint village was the inspiration for the British 1920´s writer Gerard Brenan. The book South of Granada has also been made into a film.
Other Villages to See
- Valor. See the Arabic bridge and check out the house of Aben Humeya in this remote village. The aromatic Goats cheese from Los Cortijuelos comes from Valor. The village celebrates the Moors and the Christians festival Mid September. If you want to stay in this area, the Hotel Los Berchules would be a good base to see all of this area over a few days.
- Mecina Bombarón celebrates the Fiesta of the Chestnuts on the first days of November. This village is just before Yegen along the same road.
- In Cadiar wine is produced by the Barranco Oscuro bodega & in Murtas there is another wine producer. Both can be visited with pre booked tours.
Get to La Alpujarra from Granada
- Estaimted total journey time is about 80 minutes
- From Granada take the A44 motorway southbound, direction of Motril.
- If you have GPS you can use the example address of Calle del Real 1, Pampaneira.
- From Granada drive along 35 km the motorway until you come to the exit for LANJARON.
- Follow signs to Lanjaron along the A348 road.Once you arrive in Lanjaron itself you may want to stop. You can get tourist information at the entrance of the village opposite the Balneario.
- To continue up to the Alpujarra villages follow the signs to Orgiva along the A348 and when you see a left turn to La Alpujarra take that upwards to the other villages of Pampaniera, Capileira, Bubion & Portugos.
Book a Daytrip from Granada
You can also book a day trip from Granada to the Alpujarra if you dont have a hire car yourself.
More details here: Alpujarra Guided Tour from Granada
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