The Alpujarra (or Alpujarras) is a large mountain area some thirty miles south from Granada city and only 25 miles from the beaches of the Tropical Coast (Costa Tropical). It is part of the province of Granada and of the province of Almeria.
The Alpujarra is well known for the beauty and peacefulness of its white towns; its mountain landscapes, the house balconies full of flowers; its friendly people and the atmosphere they create - and most importantly - the spectacular backcloth of the Sierra Nevada. All of these attributes led to it being designated a Global Reserve by UNESCO , as well as a National park and a Nature reserve , especially for its native flowers and distinctive ecosystems.
History of the Alpujarra
The history of Alpujarra is important because it was the last refuge of the Arabs in Andalucia . It was here that Boabdil, the last Moorish king, lived for some months after the Christians captured the city of Granada. And, it was to the Alpujarra that the Moors, who refused to convert to Christianity, fled and found refuge during almost a century before they were finally expelled.
The Alpujarra also still have many features of Berber culture, particularly in everyday houses and in their unique irrigation aqueducts that farmers are still using.
The Barranco de Poqueira
The Barranco de Poqueira is a gorge that is famous for it's beautiful views and it's three consecutive and very typical towns:
The old centre of Capileira has been declared a Historic and Artistic Beauty Spot and it has been mentioned by the Council of Europe as a model of popular architecture. The visitors of these towns are recommended to get to know the real spirit of the place and the people in these villages. In this manner they can get to know the magic of a unique place, with its steep, twisting streets and its white houses.
Other towns from west to east:
Other towns have their own charm as well and they are worth a visit: la Taha, Pitres, Ferreirola, TrÃ©velez, LanjarÃ³n, Busquistar, Orgiva and Portugos, amongst others.
LanjarÃ³n is one of the first towns on the Alpujarra belt and has cultivated a reputation for its thermal baths and medicinal waters. These thermal baths, containing minerals and medicinal properties, have been the most important in Andalusia since 17c. The Lanjaron waters are known for their distinct smells, taste and properties. The majority are filtered through layers of limestone in the river. The town has a population of around 4000 inhabitants. Although the true figure is probably much higher because of the constant influx of people in search of water with its medicinal properties.
Orgiva is considered by many to be the capital of the Alpujarra. It is the administrative area for the region and is also the main commercial area. Although this town has conserved many of its traditions, modernity has left its marks. The most noteworthy monuments are its church from 16c, the palace of los Condes de Santiago and the remains of an Arab tower from the Nazari period. Orgiva is an intersection of roads which lead to many other towns in the Alpujarra. The town, made up of manors with a distinct Moorish style, has a population of more than 5000 inhabitants. It is also the gateway to the Alpujarra Alta.
La Taha is in the heart of the Alpujarra Alta and sits between the rivers of Trevelez and Poqueria, next to the towns of Capilerilla, Pitres, Mecina, Mecinilla, Fondles, Ferreirola and AtalbÃ©itar. Their origins date back to Roman times.
Archeological remains still exist today and are an example of how important these towns were under the Arab reign. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful and refreshing atmosphere of the serene peaks in the towns of la Taha de Pitres.
Portugos is very near Pitres and reflects the traditions of the Alpujarra. Its famous fountain called âFuente Agriaâ is one of its most outstanding attractions. Its water is red in colour due to liquid iron in the water channels. The waterfall âEl Chorreonâ with red water is another natural attraction. The hermitage of Nuestra SeÃ±ora de las Angustias is one of the most important monuments in the town. The population of Portugos is around 500.
Busquistar leads to some splendid chestnut groves. The houses in this area have maintained their traditional âlaunaâ roofs. The remains of an Arab mosque which has panoramic views of the neighbouring towns is outside Busquitar. Approximately 300 people inhabit the town.
Trevelez has without a doubt gained notoriety for its ham. It is the highest town on the Iberian Peninsula with an altitude of 1750m and on the same slope as Mulhacen. Trevelez is made up of three districts, the middle, the top and the bottom. Its most spectacular monuments include a church from the 16c and the Trevelez River which is in beautiful grassy surroundings. Trout can be found in the river. Its white streets, typical of the Alpujarra, are full of arcades of drying sheds for ham. Today the population of Trevelez is around 800.
Juviles is located in the Sierra de la Contraviesa. Visitors come here to savour the famous wines of the Alpujarra, as well as to enjoy the great number of bars and taverns which are good value for money. It boasts a church and beautiful white houses. The population of this small town barely reaches 300 but it is full of flavour, just like its wines.
To reach Berchules cross the River Chico and River Grande de los Berchules which both flow into the River Guadalfeo. The town is famous for its fruit, wines and of course its ham and sausage. Around 800 people live in this town.
Cadiar is an important business centre, partly due to its location between the towns of Murtas, AlbuÃ±ol, La RÃ¡bita and YÃ¡tor. Its most important monuments is the parish church. Some 1600 people live in the town.
The houses of Mecina-Bombaron are dispersed among chestnut forests. To reach this town go along the Mecina River which flows into the Adra River. The well preserved Arab bridge across the river is a beautiful sight.
Yegen owes its fame to the hispanic writer gerald Brenan who stayed here for a short time. His work is immortalised in âAl Sur de Granadaâ. A remembrance plate has been placed in the house where Brenan stayed between 1920 and 1930. This town is also abundant in walnut trees, chestnuts and evergreens.
Valor sits between two deep ravines and was home to AbÃ©n Humeya. Arab and Christian festivals are very popular here and take place every September. The towns of Mairena and Laroles are nearby. The population of Valor is approximately 1000.
Visitors can enjoy the impressive views of the sierra Nevada from the town of TorvizcÃ³n which is next to the Guadalfeo river. Its population is around 1000.
Ugijar is considered to be the most important town in the eastern part of the Alpujarra towards Granada, similar to Orgiva which is in the west. One of its most outstanding attractions is perhaps the red cliffs that make a natural mural. The sanctuary of Nuestra SeÃ±ora del Martirio, patron saint of the Alpujarra and worshipped by many in the region, is another sight worth seeing. Inhabitants show off goods from the Alpujarra every December. Some 2500 people account for the population of this town.