In the northern part of the Province of Granada is a vast plateau of flatlands surrounded by the highest peaks of the Bética Mountain Range reaching as high as the Sierra de la Sagre at a height of 2,381 meters. The overall plateau region is known as 'El Altiplano de Granada' and is a land of contrasts. Areas of the most arid plains are to be found just a few kilometres away from some of the lushest forests in the Mediterranean. Because of its rich natural environment, the Altiplano is a protected area encompassing the Natural Parks of the Sierra de Baza and the Sierra de Castril. Water being an important issue to these parts, the three reservoirs of El Portillo, el San Clemente and el Negratín play a major role in assisting nature's balance and keeping local land fertile for crops and grazing livestock. Water from these three lakes feeds into the river Guadalquivir, via its estuary, the Gaudiana Menor.
Outdoor sports, such as walking, trekking, climbing, horse riding, fishing are all available in the area. The unspoiled natural surroundings and abundance of wild life also attracts professional and amateur photographers to capture some incredible images.
One of the most interesting historical and current features of this area is the structure and style of the traditional houses in form of cave dwellings or cave houses. Excavated from the rock face, these beautifully formed oval shaped homes have attracted many artists from all over the world to spend vacation time or even to settle there. Although previously considered humble abodes, they are now sought after for restoration by people searching for an idyllic hide-away - a popular retreat for rural tourists and nature lovers as well as those in search of creative inspiration. Combining the number of cave houses in El Altiplano and its neighbouring region of Guadix, there are at least 5,000 now in existence.
El Altiplano - Brief History
It is estimated that for around five million years, this valley was submerged under water due to an inlet pouring into it from the sea. Then many thousand of years ago, when the inflow of water reduced and became redirected into the River Gaualquivir and the Guadiana Menor, the area began to dry up. The resulting dry flatlands area is now a surprisingly wild, semi desert area, of tremendous value to the environment in that this area is such a rare commodity in Europe. One of the resulting vestiges of the change in water flow is the existing Negratín reservoir, which is of great importance to the area.
Because of the numerous archaeological remains found in this area, we know that this forgotten corner of Andalusia has been inhabited since time immemorial by a multitude of cultures. There is evidence of Palaeolithic settlers in Orce, the ferocious Iberian warriors in Baza and even Berber tribes of the middle ages in Benamaurel. Traces of all these peoples are imprinted in el Altiplano of the Granada Province, making it natural and historical treasure trove.
Traditions & Fiestas
Many ancient traditions and fiestas are celebrated each year in the villages scattered over the El Altiplano area. The organizing of religious and local events usually involves everyone in the village and visitors are made welcome. One of the most popular festivals is the 'Fiesta del Cascamorras' which takes place around the 6 - 8th September in the streets of the village of Baza. (it is also celebrated in the nearby town of Guadix). The celebrations are apparently based around the discovery of the 'Virgen de la Piedad' when excavations were going on back in 1490 to restore the church of La Merced. Villagers taking part in this fiesta have painted faces and chase one villager who is dressed in a brightly coloured of Harlequin outfit. The throwing of water seems to have become incorporated in the fun, which - while it helps to cool everyone down in the heat of early September, it also adds to the hilarity when all the painted faces start to run.
Easter celebrations in all the villages are taken seriously and are well worth seeing. In the heat of August, many of the villages celebrate a summer fair, when visitors can sample local wines and typical dishes, while watching or joining in the local dancing.
El Altiplano - Economy
The rural economy in the Altiplano area is mainly based on the growing of cereal and sunflower crops, fruits and vegetables. There is also a predominance of olive and almond groves, tended and harvested by small holding local farmers. Livestock is another important part of life in this area, with the many flocks of sheep and goats on the landscape forming a valuable income for the farming community of the region.
Of increasing importance to this rural economy are both the textile industry and the production of olive oil and meat products. All of this is enhanced with a strong tradition of hand made traditional products, which is helpful to attract the discerning tourist to this delightful area.
The Altiplano de Granada covers the two main of regions, Huéscar and Baza, each of which is divided up into numerous small Andalusian villages.
This little known area, made up of six different villages ( Castillejar, Castril, Galera, Huéscar, Puebla de D. Fadrique ,Orce) and has an overall population of around 20,000 people. It is one of the few places left in Spain which is a living testimony to its substantial prehistoric past, showing traces of man's evolution through many age old cultures. For those who love the countryside, the abundance of indigenous flora and fauna found here is a rarity anywhere in Europe today. This together with its many interesting historic monuments and singular architecture makes it a delightful discovery for anyone who wants to delve deep into real Andalusia.
The other area of El Altiplano is Baza, which is made up of eight municipalities ( Baza, Benamaurel, Caniles, Cortes de Baza, Cuevas del Campo, Cúllar, Freila y Zújar) and has an overall population of around 45,000 people. Also in this northern high flatland plain of the Granada Province, Baza borders onto the provinces of Almeria and Jaén. It is a land of contrasts between the fertile crops dispersed near river banks and the dramatic dry desert-like areas. Like Huéscar, it is full of historical importance and retains its Andalusian charm and tradition.
|Alamedilla||Alícun de Ortega|
|Alamedilla is home to el Cortijo del Hacho and el Puente del Hacho More >||Alícun de Ortega attracts nature lovers and hikers. More >|
|Baza||Benalúa de las Villas|
|Situated in the north of the Granada Province, is the town of Baza, the capital of the overall area of the same name. More >||Benalúa de las Villas is located 36km from Granada city. More >|
|Tthe exceptionally beautiful village of Benamaurel sits at a height of 723 metres above sea level and covers an overall area of some 130 Km2. More >||Campotéjar was previously a border town between the Christians and the Muslims. More >|
|The municipality of Caniles is the third largest in the Altiplano region and stretches across some 220 Km2. More >||At 766 metres above sea level, the stunning little village of Castillejar is one of the six Andalusian hamlets that make up the region of Huescar. More >|
|This idyllic countryside hamlet is situated on the edge of the Province of Jaen. More >||The most important monument here is the village Church. More >|
|Cortes de Baza||Cuevas del Campo|
|Of all the villages that make up the Huescar and Baza regions of the Altiplano area in the Granada Province, Cortes de Baza is arguably the most unspoiled of all. More >||The village of Cuevas del Campo is a world of tranquillity and stunning natural countryside. More >|
|One of the six, beautiful traditional Andalusian villages making up the region of Baza in the Altiplano area within the Granada Province. More >||This pretty little village with sparkling whitewashed cottages, many of which are original cave houses, is an exceptionally idyllic spot in Andalusia. More >|
|The village of Galera is a natural beauty spot, which is steeped in the history of many cultures going back some 4,000 years. More >||Gobernador is a village in Granada province located at 1,000m altitude. More >|
|The impressive natural environment in Gorafe makes it perfect for hiking. More >||Guadahortuna is situated at the border of Granada and Jaén. More >|
|This village has various monuments worth visiting including the parish church and the remains of a Nasrid tower. More >||The small town of Huescar is known as "Cuidad de la Paz" (City of Peace). More >|
|iznalloz is an ideal destination for outdoor activities such as hiking. More >||Montejícar is located along the River Guadahortuna. More >|
|Montillana is located at the foot of the mountain of the same name. More >||Morelábor is one of the most important rail junctions in Andalucía. More >|
|The Andalusian village of Orce may be small, but is nevertheless of remarkable importance in the search of the first traces mankind in Iberia.More >||The village centre is typically Spanish as a result of the Christian reconquest. More >|
|Píñar||Puebla de Don Fadrique|
|Píñar forms part of the Ruta de los Castillo. More >||Puebla de Don Fadrique has been described as the most beautiful village in the whole of Andalucía. More >|
|Torre Cardela||Villanueva de las Torres|
|Torre Cardela gets its name from the medieval tower that still exists in the Cerro del Molino. More >||Villanueva de las Torres is home to various archaeological remains. More >|
|This thriving, picturesque village sits on the side of the Jabalcón Mountain.