Situated in the north of the Granada Province, the exceptionally beautiful village of Benamaurel is in the Baza region of the Altiplano of Granada. The village sits at a height of 723 metres above sea level and covers an overall area of some 130 Km2. The municipality of Benamaurel is spread over a series of gullies, split into the village of Benamaurel and its surrounding hamlets: Puente Arriba, San Marcos, Cuevas de la Blanca, Huerta Real and Cuevas de Luna. Situated on an inlet between the river Guardal and the gorge, the area is reminiscent of Tolkein's Hobbit landscape, with the majority of dwellings being caves, carved out of the rock face. The overall population is around 2,500 and the inhabitants are known as "Benamaurelenses".
The whole area is rich in archaeological finds, showing important traces of its many past inhabitants. Tools and implements from Neolithic times, as well as a large number of ceramics, dishes, amphorae and coins from the Iberian - Roman times, have been discovered here. In the Salar Gorge there is still a beautiful dovecote built into the walls of ancient Almohade caves dating back to the 12 th Century, from Visigoth times. More>
Things to see in Benamaurel
The surrounding area is alive with nature, being within very close proximity of three Natural Parks: the Sierra de Baza and the Sierra de Cazorla. Also close by is the Negratin lake and the Jabalcon hills, making this one of the most beautiful natural spots in Andalucia and indeed in Europe. There are many lovely excursions on foot, bicycle or by car in the surrounding area.
The Mayor of Benamaurel, Antonio Arredondo García, warns visitors that they may "become spellbound by the by the ancient Arabic influence" saying that "you could fall for the enchantment". The strongly contrasting sensations cannot be denied and it is well worth the risk of experiencing, not only the amazing and often surprisingly palatial cave living, but also the wonderful local gastronomy.
Although you are inland and away from the sea, there is an open air municipal swimming pool in Parque San León, which is open from June until September.
Benamaurel is a traditional village where fiestas are colourful and give a real sense of rural Andalusia.
Things to See
Benamaurel is a historic village set out over a series of gullies, upon which the various areas are set out today. The Alhanda, Cuesta Del Rio and San Antonio quarters are very much where cave dwelling are found. You may be surprised at the comfort and decoration of the cave houses.
There is also the area of El Fuerte, where you can still see remains of the ancient fortress wall.
The Town Hall in Neoclassic style and the Church built on the site of an Arabic Mosque take up pride of place in the main square Plaza Mayor at the highest point of Benamaurel.
A walk through the village is interesting and what most hits the senses is the enormous contrast in scenery. The panoramic view over the rich green valley and the River Guardal is starkly contrasted against the San Marcos quarter right opposite, which looks more like a desert enclave.
There are many ways of exploring the exceptionally beautiful countryside around Benamaurel - on foot, bicycle far from the maddening crowd and busy roads, in this area you have the opportunity to walk or cycle along country tracks or drive through quiet, unspoiled countryside, taking in the natural simplicity of nature in all its glory. More>
In times gone by, farm implements were hand made and nowadays it is mainly the older generation who make baskets and matting, etc. by hand weaving the esparto grasses. These make very useful and decorative gifts to take back as a souvenir of Benamaurel.
Every Sunday there is a weekly market, selling a variety of goods, local produce and handicrafts. In winter it is held in La Cañada and in summer in Calle Vigen de la Cabeza.
Like most of rural Andalusian, traditional fiestas and religious festivals are very much a part of village life. More>
Home-grown and home-cooking is the basis of the Benamaurel gastronomy. With an abundance of locally produced olive oil, wheat, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and capers, the cooking is as tasty as it is healthy, with many local stews and salads. More about gastronomy.
Getting to Benamaurel
To get to Benamaurel by car, take the A92 motorway from Granada towards Murcia. After about 100 kilometres you come to Baza, where you take the turn off for Benamaurel, which is about another 10 kilometres. There are buses between Benamaurel and Baza running twice a day both ways (normally leaving at 08:00 and 15:00 and then coming back, leaving Baza at 11:30 and 14:00). The bus company is called Maestra. Ask for more information at the Benamaurel Town Hall. Tel: 958 733 011.