Bayárcal is situated at an altitude of more than 1000m, making it the highest municipality in the province of Almería. This has gained the town a reputation for having, supposedly, the cleanest air in Europe, which pairs wonderfully with its natural and rustic beauty. It has around 320 inhabitants.
Although its origins are not well known, Bayárcal is thought to have been an important Muslim settlement. After the uprising and expulsion of the Moors in 1570, the town was practically depopulated. The town acquired its own status as an entity in 1572, when Felipe II defeated the rebellious Moors of the Villa de Ynizar, then the most important, and had it destroyed. Subsequently, it was repopulated by Christians, mainly from Jaén, although tradition speaks of a Navarrese contingent who brought the image of San Francisco Javier, the town’s patron.
Although in ancient times the area was well known for its silk production, today many fruit trees are cultivated, despite the town’s altitude, especially apple and chestnut trees. The side of the mountain forms a landscape full of small stepped terraces ideal for cultivation.
THINGS TO SEE
Iglesia Parroquial de San Francisco Javier
The most distinct monument of the municipality is the Mudejar-style church, which houses a sixteenth-century altarpiece of great value. Its tower, located to the left of the nave, contains preserved mosaics and tiles from the Moorish era in the bell arches, damaged during battle between the Moors and Christian refugees during the War of the Alpujarras. However, the church’s most precious treasure is a series of beautiful fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Baroque ceiling carvings from the Granada School of Alonso Cano. Located on Calle San Francisco Javier.
THINGS TO SEE OUTSIDE THE VILLAGE
This is the highest peak in the province of Almería, 2611m above sea level. Located north of the town, off the AL-5402.
El Puerto de la Ragua
This has been a point of passage for both visitors and merchants for many years, and is known nationally as the Puerto de la Ragua Cross-Country Ski Station. The site offers multiple sports and leisure activities in any season of the year, and always the attractive possibility of getting to know the highest mountains in the entire peninsula, in the Sierra Nevada. Located north of Bayárcal, off the A-337.
Castillo de Yniza
The Castle is thought to be over a thousand years old, built to control everything that passed through the Puerto de la Ragua during the Middle Ages.
Piedra del Tajo Matías
This is an old toll road, where farmers of the Alpujarra Granadina transported their merchandise, such as wheat and barley, to the Marquesado area (Granada) . Once here, they would barter for other food products. Currently it is a GR-7 route (Grand Tour) that was born in Italy and ends in Gibraltar, ideal for those keen on hiking and even climbing.
Visitors must try the exquisite local gastronomic dishes, such as the fritada alpujarreña, tabirnas colorás (pumpkin dumplings stuffed with meat), patatas a lo pobre (fried eggs and potatoes), meneos de hinojo (fennel) and zamora (a potato dish). Sweet treats include potaje de castañas (chestnut pudding) and roscos de sartén (aniseed doughnuts).
Popular festivals in Bayárcal are Fiestas de San Francisco Javier, Moros y Cristianos, San Marcos and Semana Santa. More>