Alcolea’s name originates from the Arabic for ‘small castle’, which likely signals the village’s early structural origins. The construction of the Pantano de Benínar (Benínar Reservoir) made the village even more attractive for lovers of rural tourism as well as for those who prefer to explore historical, artistic and cultural features and buildings. Alcolea has around 820 inhabitants.
Although the origins of Alcolea are uncertain, the oldest vestiges discovered locally correspond to the Neolithic period, which were found at the beginning of the twentieth century in Barranco de los Caballos. These are thought to be the remains of animals. Due to the location, with a nearby river and abundant groundwater, it is feasible that some type of population already existed here at this time, although it is most likely that they would have been nomadic and dedicated to hunting and harvesting. More>
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia Parroquial de San Sebastián
The ruin of a previous Mosque led to the construction of the Church in the mid-sixteenth century. The primitive Church was burnt by the Moors in the Rebellion of 1568 and the carpentry was therefore redone in the last decade of the sixteenth century, by Cristóbal de Espinosa, with the wood cut and sawn by a group of Frenchmen active in the region at that time, including Lau y Antón de Rochaforte and Esteban Rodel. Throughout the seventeenth century, more works and repairs were carried out, and in 1711 the bricklayer Joseph Merino, who had worked in the Church, was appraised a year later by the teacher Manuel Risueño. During 1994 and 1995, with financial contributions from all town members, general repair works were carried out, rebuilding the roofs and the tower. Located in Plaza de la Iglesia.
Ermita de San Sebastián y San Idelfonso
The Mudejar San Sebastián and San Ildefonso Chapel dates to somewhere between 1702 to 1709, and its small bell tower to 1720. It is made up of a large nave decorated with frescoes representing the Holy Apostles and a beautiful dressing room. For dozens of years, it has been in regrettable neglect and its conservation has been severely damaged by inclement weather and barbarism, however, in 1998 restoration works were commissioned, funded by residents and the Town Hall, which remain underway. Apart from religious congregations, the restored Chapel will also be used for exhibitions, conferences and all kinds of cultural activity, as well providing a library and tourist information point. Located on Calle Ermita.
There are also various viewpoints in Alcolea for visitors. These include the one in the chapel, the Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint and the Era de la Ermita, which provide the best views of the area.
Those who are more interested in rural tourism and who enjoy practicing outdoor sports such as hiking can choose between different walking routes available in Alcolea and its surroundings area. Be careful not to get lost in the recreational area of Las Hortichuelas, located next to the Alcolea River. You can also climb up to the Peñón de Baños, 900m high, to get an unrivalled panoramic view of the Alpujarra , Sierra Nevada and Sierra de Gádor. Another interesting route is the Darrícal route, which is 15km long and extends to the Pantano de Benínar (reservoir). There is also a route which ascends to the Eras del Cortijuelo and to the Balsitas junction which deserves a mention due to its beauty.
Those who want to try the local gastronomy have to taste the locally-produced olive oil, as well as the delicious dishes that are made using this so-called ‘liquid gold’. Among them are the choto al ajillo (goat cooked in garlic), ascoscús (delicacy of the village), migas (fried breadcrumbs served with pork), gazpacho de invierno (winter gazpacho made without tomatoes), sopa de ajo (garlic soup) and guisado de cardo e hinojo (nettle and fennel stew). Sweet treats include hojuelas (sweet pastries), torrijas (eggy bread soaked in honey) and roscos fritos (aniseed doughnuts).
Popular festivals in Alcolea are Feria de Santa Rosa de Viterbo, Fiesta de San Sebastián and Carnaval. More>