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Montefrio

Montefrio village enjoys one of the region's most striking settings. © istockphoto
Montefrio village enjoys one of the region's most striking settings.

Montefrio

Located off the tourist trail in the northwestern corner of Granada province near the Cordoba border, this friendly village enjoys one of the region's most striking settings, with one of its churches perched on top of a bare, rocky pinnacle, overlooking the town and its surrounding hillsides clothed in olive groves and fields of cereal crops. It nestles between two memorable hilltop churches; you can't miss either of them since they dominate the skyline.

Things to see

Iglesia de la Villa
On top of the the rocky outcrop is the Iglesia de la Villa, which is well worth the steep climb from town to visit it and enjoy the magnificent panoramic views that often feature in the region's guidebooks and posters.   The church was built on the site of a Nasrid castle. In a key strategic location, the Alcazaba was constructed in the mid-14th century to help defend the Muslim kingdom of Granada and prevent an invasion by the Christians. It is believed to have been designed by the same architect who was in charge of the Alhambra. There was also a watchtower on the castle hill, which formed part of an extremely effective network of lookout posts used to stand guard over important routes over Granada's vega (plain).

After conquering Montefrío in 1486, the Catholic Monarchs ordered the castle to be demolished and the church built in its place. The architect Diego de Siloé later became involved in the church's design, which has Mudéjar, Gothic and Renaissance features. You can see ruined sections of the castle walls around the church. Although the church no longer holds services, there is a small history museum inside it, the Centro de Intepretación La Centinela, with interactive displays on the former castle, the church and the conflict between the Muslims and the Christians in 15th-century Granada. It's open Monday to Friday from 12pm to 2pm.

Iglesia de la Encarnación
Down in the centre of town is the pantheon-style Iglesia de la Encarnación, which has a huge domed roof and was designed in the 18th century by the acclaimed neoclassical architect Ventura Rodríguez.

Casa de los Oficios,
The 16th-century Casa de los Oficios, originally used by artisans, has been restored and is now a space for art exhibitions of all kinds.
Plaza de España. Tel. 958 336 136

Pósito,
The late 18th-century Pósito was the original local granary. A rectangular stone neoclassical building erected on the site then called Fuente de Iyora. The Granada-born architect Francisco Aguado designed the building and laid out the site. He also directed works on the La Encarnación church. The austere and solid construction of the granary is one of the best conserved of its type in Andalucia. In 1993 the building was carefully restored and is used as an cultural centre for exhibitions and also as a small theatre. Located at Plaza de Posito 16

Nitrate de Chile
advertisment and cultural curiosity is located on a private building strategically placed oposite old stone Pósito (granary) and now a Casa de la Cultura at the junction of Calle Alta and Plaza de Posito. Google Street View

LAS PEÑAS DE LOS GITANOS

Signposted off the road to Illora, about 7km east of Montefrío, is an intriguing and unmissable archaeological site, the Penas de los Gitanos, which has evidence of human settlement from Neolithic times to the Bronze Age. Read More>

Montefrio down through time

The numerous traces of Montefrío's rich history are described in the guidebook Roads and Trails of Montefrío by ex resident Lawrence Bohme, perhaps still on sale at the town's tourist office. 'Montefrio Last Stop' is the first of eight essays where Lawrence Bohme reminisces on the summer of 1960 and his discovery of Montefrio.

Montefrio down through time book is available on Amazon. It contains an informative chapter on the Las Penas de los Gitanos complex with detailed description and hand drawn maps of how to fiond the ruins. It was originally published by Nativola in Granada in 2003 as 'Portrait of Montefrio' and before that self published as Roads and Trails of Montefrío.

Hotels

Hotel La Enrea is a converted 19th-century olive mill. In addition there is a aparthotel in the village and also a number of holiday homes to rent in the surrounding countryside. Hotels in Montefrio>

Holiday Homes

There are a number of holiday homes to rent in the village and in the surrounding countryside. Holiday homes in Montefrio>

Tourist office

The tourist office can be found on the Plaza de España (Tel: 958 336 004).

Gastronomy

Montefrío is renowned for its sausage-making tradition and you can try some of the excellent sausages (chorizo and salchichón) and blood pudding (morcilla) in the village bars.