Granada Province - Baza

Baza, Iglesia Mayor and traditional Andalucian balconies  © Michelle Chaplow
Baza, Iglesia Mayor and traditional Andalucian balconies (click to enlarge photos)

BAZA

The Altiplano region of Baza is one of the unspoiled jewels of Andalusia.

Situated in the north of the Granada Province, is the town of Baza, the capital of the overall area of the same name. The other, smaller villages in the Baza area are: Benamaurel, Caniles, Cortes de Baza, Cuevas del Campo, Cúllar, Freila, and Zújar.

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Baza town sits at an altitude of 844 metres about sea level and has a population of around 21,600; accounting for almost 50% of the overall 45,000 population of the entire region of Baza. One of the most appreciated aspects of this magical main town of Baza is the towering mountain at just 12 kilometres away, which dominates the landscape like a protective watchtower. This natural backdrop of the surrounding mountains of the Sierra de Baza and the Sierra de Castril is simply breathtaking. When taking it all in, it is hard to believe that you are a mere 107 kilometres from Granada City. 

By car take the A92 north bound Granada – Murcia Autovía (motorway). There are three turn offs for Baza: the first (at kilometre 333) marked Zújar and Pozo Alcón, the second for the centre of Baza (marked Centro) and the third for Baza East (Baza Este) which takes you by the regional hospital.

There is bus services to Baza and it is best to check routes and timetables beforehand. Guadix is the nearest train station, at 48 kilometres away. There are various bus companies, offering many travel options to Baza from many main towns. In particular, there are regular bus services between Granada and Baza. Bus and coach travel in Andalusia is a comfortable and affordable way to see beautiful countryside.

As well as having a most wonderful surrounding natural environment rarely found in Europe today, Baza is also a historian’s paradise, having many archaeological remains, such as the Iberian-Roman remains of the city of Basti with two necropolises, in one of which is the famous Dama de Baza. There are also a surprising number of interesting buildings of great historic importance, such as the Arabic Baths (Baños Arabes).

Natural environment

The contrasting landscapes are emblematic of this area: from the Sierras de Baza Natural Park, a mountain area to the south of the town officially declared Natural Parks in 1989, to the arid ‘Bad lands’ of the plateau that forms the Altiplan and then across the vast fertile valley in all its verdant glory. With this simple natural environment comes a peculiarly interesting heritage of cave houses, inhabited since time immemorial and now becoming a much sought after retreat for the rural tourist. The people of Baza, still live by and celebrate many ancient customs and traditions mainly linked to religion, farming and agriculture.

VIA VERDE

The  Via Verde Sierra de Baza is 9,4 km long and runs for a few km north and south of Baza town as far as the municipal limits with Zujar and Caniles. The track of the original railway line connected villages of Zujar, Baza and Caniles    It was part of the Great Southern Railway Company Ltd (founded in London) which linked Baza with Lorca (Murcia) and Aguilas on the coast. In the centre of Baza the old railway station and various artifacts can still be seen from this railway constructed by the British in 1894.  

 

The Population

At the beginning of the 16th century the town of Baza had at given times a population of anything between 6,000 and 10,000. By the start of the 20 th century that number had risen to almost 13,000. Many of those who are born in Baza, ultimately leave to live in other regions around Spain, especially Catalonia and the eastern Spanish regions of Valencia and Murcia. During the 1950’s – 1970’s there was a mass exodus of people who left the farming lifestyle to become part of the new and prosperous coastal community, where tourism meant better jobs and a completely different way of life. The main town of Baza is once again lively and bustling, while villages are quieter and much more sparsely populated.

The Climate

The winter temperatures average out at just below 10ºC over a five to six month period. It is normally dry and cold, with intermittent bouts of snow and ice. The summers are dry and warm with an average temperature of just above 25ºC, with higher temperatures during the hottest month of August. Although it tends to be generally dry, there is usually some rainfall in the spring and autumn. There are often summer storms towards the end of August and beginning of September. The whole area of Baza can be intensely hot and extremely arid in the summer months.

History

In June of 2003, Baza was officially declared to be of national historic interest. The Muslim Medina and ancient fortress, Alcazaba, still exist in Baza and in the surrounding old quarter there are evocative place names, such as ‘Algedid’ (the San Juan quarter), ‘Al Rabal al –Hedar’ and ‘Marzuela’ where the Arab Baths are. It is a sheer pleasure to walk through these ancient narrow streets and historic fortifications, as it is to visit the many interesting monuments and buildings. As well as civil and military architecture, there are also numerous churches, most of which were built during the 16 th Century after the War of Granada and the Christians clearly wanted to leave their mark after the ousting of the Moors.

The Municipal Museum of Baza

El Museo Municipal de Baza

Founded by Baza Town Hall in 1988 and open to the public as it is today since 1998, has some incredible exhibits of archaeological interest. It is part of the Andalusian Museum Network and comes under wing of the Andalusian Region Government. There are four sections in the museum dedicated to permanent exhibits, covering; Iberia, Medieval, Roman and Prehistoric eras.

There is a fifth room, which is reserved for other cultural exhibitions and activities .The ground floor also houses the Baza Tourist Office: Tel/Fax: 958 861 325

Museo Municipal de Baza
Plaza Mayor No. 1

Opening Hours: Daily:
Winter 10:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to18:30
Summer 10:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 19:00

La Dama de Baza

This amazing historic sculpture was excavated the Iberian necropolis of Cerro del Santuario (Sanctuary Hill), linked to the ancient Iberian city of Basti, close to the town of Baza. This sculpture, thought to date from around 400 BC is not only of enormous historical interest, but is also aesthetically and culturally popular for its beauty and detail. It was found in the tomb of what is supposed to have been a goddess of the time.

Fiestas in Baza

The February Carnival celebrations in Baza are becoming more extravagant each year, with the imagination of the villagers producing more interesting outfits to wear at the many organized parties.

Easter Holy Week is a religious tradition taken very seriously by the people of Baza. The Processions, where the religious images are carried through the streets of the town, are the result of a whole year’s preparations, involving the different church brotherhoods in the area.

Feria
 (Town Fair) which lasts from the 6 th to the 15 th September.

 

CASCAMORRAS


The Feria opens with the fiesta of ‘Cascamorros’ and has rightly been declared a festival of international interest.  Although the festival is relatively little-known outside Granada province, by latest estimates up to 20,000 people take part, running through the streets and covering each other in black olive oil in Baza and coloured paste in Guadix. There are main two parts to the Cascamorras festival - one in Baza, traditionally on 6th September, and the other in Guadix on 9th September. More info about the Cascamorras in Baza >

 

Gastronomy in Baza

Solid home cooking is the underlying theme of dishes you will come across in Baza. The colder winter climate calls for stews made with fresh vegetables, game and other meats. Try the ‘Gachas Tortas’, which is a hot past dish containing rabbit, onions, garlic, peppers, potatoes, white wine and olive oil.

If you see ‘Gurupina’ on a menu, you will be able to sample a wonderful local dish including ingredients such as fish (cod), potatoes, onions, wild mushrooms and flour.

Testuz’ is another warming dish based on broad beans, white beans, black pudding, pig’s ear, potatoes and garlic. This is not a dish for someone on a low cholesterol diet, as extra fat is added to give full flavour!

Due to the continental climate of the area, the local cold meats and hams are of extremely high quality. Capers also feature in many of the recipes from salads to sauces, since these grow wild in the surrounding countryside.

The Baza region also has a particularly good reputation for its sweets and deserts.

For further information on the town and region of Baza, contact the Tourist Office:

Museo Municipal de Baza
Plaza Mayor No. 1
Tel/Fax: 958 861 325

Or the Town Hall :

Ayuntamiento de Baza
Arco de la Magdelena
Tel: 958 700 691


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