Translated by Emma Cattle and Fiona Flores Watson
El Valle is an area made up of three villages that were originally, during Arab times, tahás (a Nazari word to describe an administrative district: ta means obedience): Saleres, Melegís and Restábal; they were merged in 1972. As the most populous and also being located midway between the three, Restabal is the capital of the municipality. Located at the foot of the Cerro de los Cajorros (583m), the village offers view of the two populations from its various terraces, as well as the surrounding orange and lemon groves.
The El Valle district has many natural attractions, such as the Barranco de Alos, the area of Cortijo de Budas and Loma del Calvario. At the first, you can see limestone walls and cavernous areas formed by water erosion, as well as a 1000-year-old carob tree. The second is the banks of the Béznar reservoir, and the third, an impressive panoramic view of the village and the Valle de Lecrín.
If you want to capture one of the best images of the village centre in Restábal, you should go to the bridge on the río Torrente. Among its white buildings the Iglesia de San Cristóbal, a Mudejar church built in the 16th century, stands out. The Ermita del Cerro is a recent addition which honours the Virgen de Fatima. A ruined castle, destroyed by the Reyes Catolicos during the Reconquest, dates from the Nazari era (14th century).
Melegís, where the Nazari court (Moorish rulers of Granada) resided briefly in the 14th century, is situated on the Torrente river. El Baño thermal springs offers waters renowned for their curative properties - above all, for skin disorders. Among its numerous noble houses the Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista stands out from the crowd. This church, which has recently been declared a National Monument, was built in the 16th century and is home to works of great value, such as a Virgen from the school of Alonso Cano, an old organ and a baroque-style Christ figure from Peru. Its structure you can see many Moorish style elements as well as renaissance and baroque elements. You shouldn't miss the 13th century Moorish mirador (watch tower) - there is also a newer viewing terrace in honour of all the émigrés who went to France and Germany in the 1950s and 60s - or the old public washrooms.
Lastly, Saleres is the highest of the three villages, named after one of area's rivers, and known locally as Santo. The most interesting monument is the historic Fuente de los Siete Años, situated in Pago de los Llanos, so-called because its source provided water for seven years before the flow lessened during another seven. Also worth seeing is the Iglesia de Santiago, dating from the 16th century, whose facade, by Pedro de Berrueco, wooden coffered ceiling and tower covered with glazed tiles are impressive. Look out for the Atalaya (also known as the Torre de Marchal), a ruined Nazari watchtower with an amazing view over the valley; it is situated at 1011 metres. There are also several old mills - Blanca, Bastian and Enriquez.
The village is home to Ian Gibson, the Irish writer who is an expert on Spanish history.
Local produce includes olive oil, wine, beans, oranges and lemons. On the first Sunday of every month, the Lecrin Valley farmers' and artisans' market takes place.
Traditional delicacies of El Valle include puchero de hinojos (fennel stew), pisto de calabaza (ratatouille with pumpkin), ensalada de pimientos coloraos (pepper salad), caracoles en salsa (snails in sauce), manos de cerdo (pigs' trotters) and albóndigas de bacalao (cod meatballs). For dessert, try leche frita (flour, milk and sugar fried and rolled in sugar), crema de naranja (orange cream), torrijas (French toast) and pastas de almendra (almond pastries).
The Feria del Citrico (Citrus Festival) is held in Melengis ever year in the week before Semana Santa, with the Festival de la Naranja taking place on the Saturday before Palm Sunday.
The main fiesta celebrated in El Valle is la Fiesta de San Antón, in June in Melegís. As well as religious events, at night there is a lively festival. In May the Romeria del Cerro is celebrated, in honour of the Virgen de Fatima.
El Valle is 39km from Granada city. Take the A-44 (direction Armilla-Motril), then leave at exit 160 for Lecrín-El Valle, to join the GR-SO-24 and then finally the GR-110 which takes you to the centre of Restábal.