Written by Marta Palomo Hermoso and translated by Tanya Shew
THINGS TO SEE OR DO
Hueneja, nestled in the Granada mountains, conserves one of the largest and most important Arab baths of all the region, which are soon to be declared of Cultural Interest.
Hueneja is a small village that has managed to keep the layout of the streets built during the Moorish times virtually intact. Many are the remains found from this period, but the real origin of this village lies in the Prehistory.
When visiting Hueneja, you can start off by visiting the Parish Church of La Anunciación. A church that was built on the ruins of an old Mosque back in 1500. Then, you can move on to the charming little white-walled chapel of La Presentacion. While it was initially built in the 16th Century, it underwent several enlargement and refurbishment works until the 19th Century. It is worth mentioning that these attractions can only be visited during mass, so you should check out the timetable upon arrival.
As mentioned, Hueneja is known for having one of the best-conserved Arab baths of the region. While this is true, they are not currently in use, which is a shame. The baths are formed by several chambers, one for each temperature of water (cold, warm, hot) and covered by pavilion vaults. Nowadays, these baths are privately-owned, and you need permission from the owners to visit them.
There is also a 20th Century sculpture in one of the squares erected in honour of the Patron Saint of Hueneja, San Francisco Serrano de Frías, canonised by Pope Juan Pablo II.
Still today, Hueneja conserves the remains of the majestic walls of what used to be a castle.
Leaving aside the cultural side of Hueneja, we must add the great variety of nature-based activities. This area is perfect for trekking, mountain biking or even cross-country skiing in the winter months.
If you would like to take a pretty souvenir back home with you and you like ceramics, this is the place for you. The villagers are very skilled at manufacturing all kind of typical ceramic products.
Food lovers cannot come to Hueneja and not try the typical dishes. Most of the cuisine here is influenced by the Moorish past, like the migas, olla de segadores, traditional homemade bread, or deserts like roscos de huevo and panecillos.
During the Cruces de Mayo, it is customary to eat doughnuts and hot chocolate.
There are many important dates in the festivals calendar of Hueneja, which delight villagers and visitors alike:
Baile de las ÁnimasBetween the 13th and 28th December, and organised by the Las Ánimas Brotherhood, this tradition consists of the members of the brotherhood dressing in their traditional clothes and going out into the street playing seguidillas and fandangos (typical popular songs).
Festival honouring Nuestra Señora de la Presentacion
21st of November and organised by the Town Hall and the Church. The Virgin is taken around the village in procession. Cultural and recreational activities are held during the day.
First weekend of October. The origin of the fair is the traditional cattle fair that coincided with the festivity of San Francisco de Asis.
During the first two weeks of August, the town hall and the different local associations organise several cultural activities, like taking the Virgin in procession, market, plays, concerts, workshops, games and exhibitions.
28th of July. It is a popular street party with food and drink, and live music.
San Francisco Serrano de Frías
27th May or 4th October in honour of the Patron Saint of the village, consisting of a solemn procession and a Holy Mass.
The festival honouring San Francisco Serrano, the Patron Saint, on the 4th of October is quite a big one where they carry the image of the Saint through the streets of the village and hold a fair. Out of curiosity, there has recently been some debate about the date on which they should be honouring San Francisco Serrano, as some say that it should be the 27th of May, instead of the 4th of October, which is San Francisco de Asis’ day.
Cruces de Mayo
3rd May. The most typical places of Hueneja are decorated with traditional Manila shawls, embroidered bedspreads and other home decorations. An altar is built in the centre of the village where they place a cross.
San José Obrero Day
1st of May. The villagers take the Saint out on procession and they play popular games while drinking and dancing in the street.
San Marcos Day
25th April. They take San Marcos out on a procession and distribute doughnuts among humans and bless the animals.
This is held on a different week each year depending on the Ecclesiastic Calendar. In Hueneja they play quite a curious game involving broken or defective pitchers throwing them towards one another in a circle until they are completely shattered.
They also make cloth dolls of Judas, which are then hung on the windows or balconies and set alight. According to them, it represents the story of Judas’ betrayal.
The villagers also bring out their Saints and take them out on procession for everyone to admire them.
This is also held on a different week each year depending on the Ecclesiastic Calendar.
Everyone gets dressed up and a prize is given to the best costume.
San Blas Festival
3rd February. The origin of this festival is unknown, but everyone gathers provisions and goes out into the countryside for a meaty feast around a bonfire.
In February, there is a religious pilgrimage setting off from the village to the recreational area of Los Castaños and then at night, bonfires are lit up.
Hueneja is located at about 91 kilometres from the city of Granada. To get to Hueneja, take the A-44 towards Almeria and then the A-92 until you see the exit for A-4103. You can’t go wrong!