Alpujarra

Travel Guide Andalucia Alpujarra

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Introduction

Las Alpujarras, a region in the Southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is a historic area of Spain, evidence of ancient civilisations has been found and in more recent times it is thought to have been invaded by the Romans, around 2,000 years ago. With the Berbers arriving around 1,500 years ago, bringing the evident North African influence to the area.

The Sierra Nevada’s of Spain boast the peak of Mulhacen, mainland Spain’s highest point, at nearly 3,500 metres on the eastern end of the range, along with some other similarly sized mountains. The terrain on the east-west range in southeastern Spain is quite varied, from Alpine covered hills, to rugged, eroded, iron rich rocky mountains.

The first two weeks of August are very hot, with the iron rich rocks soaking up and slowly releasing the sun’s heat, it can be considerably hotter in the valleys than in some of the surrounding higher villages.

Nestled into the hills are small villages with white-washed flat roofed houses, a fascination in themselves with their narrow streets butting up to the doorsteps of the houses. It’s like going back in time. You can still find the locals using mules to ride from their village house to their out-of-town small-holding for a hard day’s work on their crops in the rocky dry, yet fertile soil.

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History

Throughout the centuries the area has gone through several changes in the ethnic origins of its inhabitants. Around 500 years ago, when Spain was predominantly under Muslim rule, the Moors were forced to retreat to the hills after conflict with the Christians.

Currently the religion is predominantly Christian, but North Africans have started to populate the area again, travelling across the Med to work in the ugly greenhouses that populate the South Eastern foothills just inland from the coast. These greenhouses are where our fancy out-of-season fruit and vegetables are grown. So you can't complain!

It had also suffered but wasn't conquered, during the civil war and the Franco era.

These conflicts had until recently left Las Alpujarras more a back-water place to live. In recent years the Spanish youngsters have opted to move to the happening cities, leaving many buildings uninhabited and falling into disrepair.

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Geography

Geologically, these mountains are very interesting and even beguiling, the uplift caused by the African tectonic plate pushing into the Eurasian plate, starting around one million years ago. With the steep valleys and weathered and eroded gorges and peaks, it’s beautiful in a rugged and functional kind of way.

The rock is varied, from sedimentary to metamorphic, with considerable erosion having occurred over the years. The uplift is so evident in the multi-coloured layers of rock. As usual, it is impossible to capture the essence of this so alive terrain in a photograph.

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Sights and Activities

If you get the chance, take a week or two in these mountains, you won’t regret it. You can book the hotel in Berchules, or a B&B in Mecina Bombaron, perhaps a remote AirBnB cortijo for a totally isolated chill-out. Rent a village house. There are many festivals in the villages, where you can sample the Alpujarran celebrations and Vino Verano!

The area is famous for dry-cured pork, and other Alpujarran dishes.

Hiking, horseriding and mountainbiking holidays are available. Or go in winter, when there is skiing in the Sierra Nevada. The mountain roads are ideal for cycling and motorcycling too. There are many options to have a chilled or active time!

The med is an hour away, and it's nearly downhill all the way on the winding mountain roads.

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Getting There

By Plane

Almeria airport is nearest approximately 1.5 hours away.

Malaga airport is approximately 2.5 hours away.

By Bus

A bus can be taken from the coast, La Rabita, Salobrena.

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Eat

La Alpujarra offers cuisine indicative of its history as a very poor region of Spain: heavy on substance but don't expect subtlety. You won't go hungry and it won't cost you much, but don't expect the gastronomic marvels of northern Spain or Mediterranean delicacies. If you enjoy meat be sure to try the mountain-cured serrano ham, available everywhere. Also morcilla, a type of black pudding, is a speciality along with the heavily meat-laden Plato Alpujarreño, a cholesterol feast not unlike an English breakfast.

Vegetarians should be aware that the pig is the mainstay of Alpujarra dishes. Spanish omelette or more the exciting 'Revueltas' are good choices for vegetarians. 'Revueltos' are scrambled egg mixed with other ingredients, so specify 'no meat' ('sin carne'). A common ingredient to mix with the eggs to make this dish is 'Acelgas' or chard. Mixed salads tend to be large enough to feed two people, but often include tuna and sometimes ham.

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Drink

For a local wine ask for 'Vino Costa'. This is a pinky brown wine with a strong taste and stronger kick. The pinker it is the younger it is - it should be drunk reasonably young. If you order this in a bar the chances are it will have been made by the family who run the bar from their own grapes.

Coffee is almost always excellent and strong.

For a non alcoholic beverage ask for Mosto, unfermented grape juice.

Many places will still give you free 'tapas' (small plate of food to nibble) if you have a wine or a beer. This is a great Spanish tradition that has disappeared from many other areas.

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Sleep

Accommodation is generally reasonably priced. Hotels tend to be functional, with a few notable exceptions, such as the delightfully rustic if somewhat remote Alquería de Morayma at Cádiar in the low Alpujarra. A more interesting experience may be had by staying in self catering cottages and village houses, which often offer good value and are likely to exhibit elements of the curious Berber-style architecture inherited from the Moors.

  • Cortijo Opazo, Pórtugos, ☎ +34 958064018. Self-catering accommodation in delightfully restored Alpujarran farmhouse. Situated in the countryside a short walk from the high Alpujarran villages of Pitres and Pórtugos. Ideal base for walking, free guides and maps supplied. Full walking holiday option available.
  • El Gato Negro, Capileira. A pretty, traditional village house offering holiday self-catering for 2 people. Comfortable, fully equipped and conveniently situated in the village. Spectacular location in the Poqueira Gorge with walking trails up to the National Park and down to the river. Visit Granada and the Alhambra or the Costa Tropical on day trips.
  • Viña y Rosales, Nevada. An Andalusian guest house with remarkable architecture, agreeable atmosphere and the richness of history. With a garden having her own spring, Viña y Rosales offers a wonderful, comfortable and exclusive B&B.
  • Hotel Alcadima Alpujarra, C/ Francisco Tarrega, 3 18420 Lanjarón, Granada, ☎ +34958770809. Nice 3 star hotel in Lanjarón, with swimming pool and spa services.
  • La Cuadra Vieja (850), Válor, Granada, ☎ +34 630 231 642. Charming converted old stables of a labourers cottage in a quiet corner of the village of Válor. It is suitable for up to four people who wish to self cater. Pretty terrace with amazing southerly views of La Sierra de La Contraviesa. 30 euros per night.

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This is version 8. Last edited at 8:26 on Sep 17, 18 by Utrecht. No articles link to this page.

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