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 in the north east corner of the Province of Granada. With a population of around 2,000, this idyllic haven is tucked away and yet easily accessible at just 15 minutes off the A-92 Mediterranean autovía (motorway). It is some 120 kilometres from Granada City and just 15 kilometres from the main town of Huescar.
This beautiful region of contrasts is one of the prettiest and least spoilt areas in Andalusia and is well worth a visit. Castillejar was a fortress against invasion from Murcia in Moorish times gone by and still shows distinct links with its historic past. Sitting between the two rivers Guardal and Barbatas, this enclave has, over the centuries, been witness to the passing of important historic settlers of many different cultures of the Iberian Peninsula. Nowadays it is the perfect stopping off point for visitors to the nearby Natural Parks of Castril Sierra and Cazorla. Other points of natural beauty and interest in the vicinity are the lakes of Negratín and San Clemente, the archaeological route, Baza Natural Park and lots more.
As with the other villages in and around this area, there is a continued tradition for building and living in cave houses. With all the mod cons of modern living and the added the advantage of a constant all-year-round inside temperature of between 18ºC and 20ºC, the cave dwellings are as practical as they are pretty. Although the village has traditionally been an agricultural and farming community, there is now a keen focus on rural tourism.
Temperatures can be extreme and very different from the typical Costa del Sol climate. Be prepared for hot dry summers and cold winters, with snow on the surrounding mountains.
The opportunities for outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, climbing, mountain biking, horse riding, canoeing, fishing, etc are endless in the area all around this and the other villages of the region. The contrast in the surrounding countryside from desert to lush green valleys is a paradise for the keen photographer or artist. This is especially true in spring and autumn. The abundance of flora and fauna is always full of surprises.
A favourite place, by the banks of the River Guardal, is Las Presas, where there is a special picnic area, ideal for families to enjoy the countryside in safety. There are rustic stone benches and tables and barbeques cooking and heating up food. The surrounding trees offer welcome shade from the hot summer sun. After eating and enjoying the countryside, you can also visit the nearby ancient archaeological site of Balunca, which is just a couple of kilometres outside of Castillejar. It's also worth finding your way to the Mirador de las Eras Altas, which is a high viewpoint which gives a sweeping panoramic view over the valley, with the river Guardal wending its way through the fine countryside. Look out also for Los Barrancos, Presa del Cura and Camino del Limán and add them to your itinerary.
Gastronomy in Castillejar
There are excellent restaurants where you can try out the local dishes in the village. A typical dish is the lamb, which comes highly recommended. You will also see cuscus on the menu, as well as dishes including rabbit and hare. The wines are also very good and compliment the fine home cooking you would expect of a small Andalusian village. Many villagers make local wines, which are well worth tasting and even buying a bottle or two to take away with you.