Wedged in between the impressive mountain ranges of the Sierra de Baza to the south and La Hoya de Baza and the Sierra del Pozo to the north, sits the proud and beautiful Andalusian village of Zújar. It is in the Altiplano region of the Granada Province, at a comfortable drive of approximately 110 kilometres drive from Granada City.
Zújar village is geographically located in the GPS zone 30S, with the map points X: 05 14 00 and Y: 41 55 00. The municipality covers an area of just over 100 km2 and the village sits at a point 761 metres above sea level. The population numbers approximately 3,000.
This thriving, picturesque village sits on the side of the Jabalcón Mountain, which has a summit at 1,496 metres above sea level. The landscape is one of high plateaux with a series of gullies which have formed slowly over the centuries through the effects of rainfall and erosion. The rainwater channels its way down to the river bed of the Guadiana Menor, which now forms the Negratín reservoir. In contrast to the arid flatlands surrounding it, the town of Zújar is blessed with a well irrigated and lush valley which flourishes with plants and flowers and on the north side of the Jabalcón there is a thick pine forest. The combination of different landscapes makes this area particularly stunning and unique. It is described by many as one of the most beautiful natural areas in Andalusia.
The historic centre of Zújar Village has a very Moorish flavour to it, with squat whitewashed houses, some of which date back to the 17 th century. There is also a large area of cave houses. There are other areas towards the valley that have been gradually developed since the 1970’s and continue to undergo further growth. The old part of the village is a labyrinth of tiny streets, where the distinctive Arabic influence makes for an enchanting voyage backwards in time.
The different quarter / areas of the village
There are many recognised ‘barrios’ (quarters) in Zújar, each one considered quite different by the 3,000 or so inhabitants of this Andalusian village:
Abatel : is a very interesting area of the village, formed of cave houses built into the side of the ‘Cerrillo de la Horca’ on the side of the Abatel hill. The name Abatel comes from the Arabic meaning ‘place of punishment’ and until 1502 there was a gallows there. Later in the 1970’s, the Hermitage of San Pedro and San Pablo was built.
El Lugar : is one of the older parts of Zújar village and still oozes the Arabic influence in the narrow streets, where balconies provide much of the atmosphere filled as they normally are with well tended aromatic plants. Here you will find one of the many fountains in the village, ‘el caño de San Leandro’.
Goroz: This area takes its name from the Arabic ‘al’gurus’ which refers to the fact that much of this area was dedicated to the cultivation of grapevines. Nowadays, this is very popular area, which is being rapidly developed.
Matadero: This small area of Zújar in the centre is named after the slaughterhouse which no longer exists today. In a little street where the church is, there is a little square called ‘Las Mónicas’ named after a family who lived there in the middle of the 19 th century.
Carramaiza: This is a corner of Zújar with beautifully preserved traditional cave houses. The people who live in this part of the village (approximately numbering 120) are known for their hospitality and simple ways, most of them being agricultural workers and farmers. The area of Carramaiza used to be connected to the main nucleus of Zújar by an old pathway that took in a bridge over the River Guadiana Menor. Since the construction of the Negratín reservoir, those living in Carramaiza now have to take the 40 kilometre journey right around the Jabalcón Mountainside to get into Zújar village.
Carramaiza is a very special place, with some of the most interesting cave architecture in the area and wonderful views across the Negratín Lake as well as out across the Jabalcón Mountain, thus attracting many rural tourists. There are particularly beautiful natural routes and excursions throughout the Guadalentin valley and in the nearby National Park of Cazorla and Segura.
There is archaeological evidence that Zújar was populated during Neolithic times. Further data shows vestiges of peoples living there in the Classic Iberian era of the 4 th and 3 rd centuries BC, with signs that these people actually lived in what is the centre of Zújar today. It appears that the area of the village during Roman times was much smaller.
Following the Christian conquest and up until 1571, almost 100% of Zújar’s inhabitants were Moorish. Then most of this population was expelled and the village was repopulated by Castilians. In 1649 Zújar gained independent status. From the 19 th to the start of the 20 century the State separated some of the land and declared the village of Cuevas del Campo as forming a separate entity, while it had previously been a part of Zújar.
Places of Interest
Iglesia de la Anunciación (Church of the Annunciation )
This church was built on the site of the ruins of the Mosque alter the Moors were driven out of the area. The present building dates back to the middle of the 18 th century and follows the neoclassic lines, with a few imitation baroque details such as the façade and the decoration of the ceilings and chapels. The church has a bell tower and there are some interesting paintings by unknown artists, which were given the church by the Abbot Nicolás Heredia Barrionuevo, of the Sacromonte Abbey in Granada.
Los Baños de Zújar
Even if you happen to visit Zújar during one of the cooler seasons of the year, you are still likely to swim a few lengths of this outdoor pool, which is full of natural warm water. Not only will you benefit from a feeling of wellbeing from these therapeutic waters, but you will also be able to feast you eyes over the beautiful panorama of the Negratín reservoir. There is also a restaurant alongside the pool area, where you can enjoy an excellent meal to round off the visit perfectly.
Fountains and springs
Many of the public water fountains and sources in Zújar originate from the Arabic times. Such examples that you can see throughout the village are; Caño de la Sima, el Caño Jorge, Cañillo de los Gregorios and Caño San Leandro. Amongst the fountains in the valley, are the fuente de las Doncellas, la fuente de la Alcanacia and the Fuente Grande, as well as many more. It is worth mentioning the open wash place known as ‘el lavadero de Abatel’, which is still in use today.
There is a walk around the Zúar valley which takes in the sites of all these fountains. The terrain is such that you can either walk or cycle the path, while enjoying the simple beauty and tranquillity of the natural surroundings.
- ‘Semana Santa’ or Easter Holy Week is a special time in the whole of Spain and Zújar is no exception. In fact there is a particularly interesting event on Easter Friday, when the streets of the historic centre of Zújar set the scene for the re-enacting of the Passion of Christ.
- In April Zújar celebrates a festival where the battles between the Moors and the Christians (Moros y Cristianos) are re-enacted. You can watch a colourful and lively performance in an open-air theatre in the village centre.
- The 3 rd of May is ‘Dia de la Cruz’ (the Day of the Cross) and in Zújar each of the different ‘barrios’ (quarters) of the village compete for the best decorated cross. Flowers and other colourful and imaginative decoration is used and the end results make a fine display for all to see. A very pretty time to visit the village.
- On the last Sunday of May, the Carramaiza fiesta takes place.
- The Sunday that falls after the 15 th of August is time for the ‘Romería(Pilgrimage) de San Isidro’ in Zújar. The venue for this pilgrimage festival takes place in the Amarguilla, by the Negratin Reservoir.
- Also during the month of August (from the 12 th to the 15 th) is the Feria (Fair), with plenty of traditional dance, music, food and drink.
- On the 2 nd of October is the fiesta of the ‘Dia del Angel’ (Day of the Angel) when ring shaped cakes (roscas del angel) are given out as part of the celebrations.
- On the 13 th of December, bonfires are lit to celebrate the day of Santa Lucia.
- During the month of August there is a ‘Semana Cultural’ - a week of cultural activities organized by the Town Hall. For a week there are special events laid on and cultural activities, such as concerts, recitals and theatre productions.
There are numerous routes in and around Zújar for those who enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors.
Of special note is the fact that the famous GR-7 route runs through this area. A section of this international walking route which stretches over some 1,000 kilometres through Andalucia cuts through this wonderfully natural spot as it wends its way across Europe, following the trail of the first ancient traders.
Other Sports and Activities in the area:
Zújar offers a myriad of sports and outdoor activities thanks to the natural surrounding in the valley, the Jabalcón Mountain, the Negratín reservoir and the Carramaiza flatlands. As well as the organized sporting facilities provided by the Town Hall in the form of a sports pavilion in Zújar, where there is football, basket ball, tennis, ping pong, etc. there are also specially designated outdoor picnic areas with barbecue facilities, etc., in areas just outside of the village.
On the Jabalcón Mountain summit, there is a landing and a take off strip for paragliding. Due to its isolated situation, this is one of the best places for the sport. As well as free gliding, Delta Wing and motorized paragliding can be practiced here. Indeed, so perfect is the setting, that Spanish Championships have been held in this spot.
Motocross, Mountain biking and cycling in general
As well as mountain biking through the challenging mountain terrain, the paths and roads in and around the area are perfect for cycling at a more leisurely pace. A summer competition is held in August, showing how suitable the land is for this sport. Motocross is also becoming a popular pastime, the excellent climate allowing for many hours of fun for all these sports.
Walking and Orienteering
Walking in the Zújar area is popular amongst enthusiasts of the outdoors. One of the great attractions is that the municipal boundaries of Zújar take in a part of the marked out that runs across Europe and whose start point in Andalusia is in Tarifa. The part in Zújar comes up the Bañor de Zújar track, crossed the Vega and goes up to the Catín flatlands, heading in the direction of Baza.
The natural beauty and diversity of landscapes make this whole area a paradise for the serious and casual walker alike.
For the more adventurous traveller, the Jabalcón offers different levels of rock climbing. On the south east face of the Jabalcón Mountain is the so-called ‘Piedra del Sol’ (Sun Rock) and on the East face is the ‘Piedra de los Halcones’ (Falcons’ Rock). Both have a vertical drop, but neither is very long, thus allowing people at different levels the chance to practice their sport.
The Negratín reservoir is a wonderful place for swimming and water sports. From spring to autumn there are boat trips on the lake and a chance to practice windsurfing, water skiing, canoeing and kayaking. It is worth mentioning again the Baños de Zújar, where you can enjoy a swim in natural warm thermal water, while enjoying the beautiful surrounding views down on to the reservoir.
The Zújar Market
Each Saturday morning, there is a village market in Zújar, where you can buy fruit, vegetables, local products, gifts and other bits and pieces. It is held in Plaza Mayor.
As with the other villages in the Altiplano region, the rich tapestry of cultural background of Zújar has given rise to a wonderful synthesis of tastes and flavours in the cooking and dishes that have evolved to become the gastronomy of today. The mixture of Castilian, Andalusian and Arabic makes it a very interesting place to savour many gastronomic delights.
The pork is delicious and often cooked in a healthy stew. There are also seasoned meats often cooked in almond sauces. Because of the quality of the pork, cold meats and sausages such as the wonderful Spanish chorizo, morcilla (black pudding) are a popular choice in the area.
Zújar is especially known in the area for its delicious sweets and deserts made with oil, almonds and flour.
The local wine must not be missed. While back in the 19 th century there was wide commercial production of wine, today it is just sold locally. It has a robust, fruity flavour and a wonderful complement to the excellent meat and vegetable dishes on the menus of local establishments.
For further information on Zújar, contact the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall):
Ayuntamiento de Zújar
Calle Jabalcón 10
Tel: 958 716 017