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Las Alpujarras

The stunning rural landscape of the Alpujarras © Barcley Spìcer-Jenkins
The stunning rural landscape of the Alpujarras © Barcley Spìcer-Jenkins

las alpujarras

Typical chimney pots from Las Alpujarras © Michelle Chaplow
Typical chimney pots from Las Alpujarras

The region of mountain villages known as Las Alpujarras clings to the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada, cloven by deep, sheltered valleys and gorges which run down towards the Mediterranean. The Alpujarra, as it is popularly known, in the singular, is famous throughout Spain because of its unique mini-ecology. Its terraced farmlands are constantly watered by the melting snow from above, constituting a high-altitude oasis of greenery which stands in dramatic contrast to the arid foothills below. This is ideal hiking terrain for adventurous travellers, provided you take along a tent and well-padded sleeping bags - the average altitude is 4,000 feet above sea level.

The cultural interest of the region lies in its fifty-odd villages, which were the last stronghold of the Spanish Muslims, or Moors. Soon after the Castillians took Granada in 1492, all the city´s Moors were forced to convert to Christianity. Those who refused took to the hills, settling in this remote, inaccessible area. Constant pressure from the Christians led to a bloody uprising, the Morisco Rebellion of 1568, which was ruthlessly crushed out, with the public execution of the leader, Ben Humeya, in the main square of Granada. Soon followed a royal decree expelling from the Kingdom of Granada all people of Arab descent, since the "new Christians", as the converts were called, were all suspected of being ¨crypto-Muslims¨ in secret...

The villages of the Alpujarra were resettled with some 12,000 Christian families brought by King Philip II from Galicia and Asturias in north-western Spain. However, these unique hamlets have retained their traditional Berber architecture - terraced clusters of grey-white box-shaped houses with flat clay roofs - which is still common in the Rif and Atlas mountains of Morocco. Perhaps the most picturesque villages are the famous trio which cling, one close above the other, to the slopes of the Poqueira Valley, where red peppers and tomatoes are still set out to dry on the flat clay roofs, among the tall round chimney pots. Pampaneira, at the bottom, bustles with crafts shops and restaurants, as does Bubión, half way up the slope, with its massive square church tower standing on a plaza of rough paving stones. But to savour the authentic Alpujarra, go to Capileira at the top of the valley - the name is an Arabic derivation of the Latin word for head or top - and walk down from the road into the lower streets of the village, where the rocky streets, overhanging passageways and sagging, stone houses have still not been remodelled and prettified for contemporary living...

If you stray from the beaten path, you will be sure to catch sight of the region´s abundant wild life, such as the Cabra Hispanica, a mountain goat which roams the mountains in herds and is often seen standing on pinnacles, silhouetted against the sky. But as soon as it flairs the scent of man it will bound up the steepest slopes with amazing speed... The Alpujarra is also famous for its excellent birdwatching - the colourful Hoopoe with its stark, haunting cry, is a common sight. The capital of the region is Órgiva, on the lowlands, and the village of Trevélez - famous throughout Spain for its superb mountain hams, or jamón serrano - is, at over 4,840 feet above sea level, the highest village in Europe, overhanging a fast-flowing river and plunging mountain valley.

South from Granada

One of the many great travel books written about Spain is devoted to the Alpujarra - Gerald Brenan wrote South From Granada, which recounts the adventures of a young Britisher who, after serving in World War I, walked through Andalucia in search of a cheap place to live and write. He discovered the tiny village of Yégen, where he rebuilt a ruined house (now marked with a plaque in his memory) and lodged some of his friends of the famous Bloomsbury group of London. In his book - written in retrospect, long after he became a well-known journalist - Brenan describes the difficulties of getting such highly-strung aesthetes as Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey up the river gorges on mule back, as well as his bucolic existence among the local peasants.

Laroles is the largest of four villages that make up the municipal district of Nevada. It sits in between the rivers Bayárcal and La Ragua and is surrounded by lush chestnut groves. Within its… More →

Ugíjar consists of five areas: Ugíjar, Cherín, Jorairátar, Los Montoros and Las Canteras. Granada poet Pedro Antonio de Alarcón once described Ugíjar as “aristocrática” (aristocratic). In Ugíjar,… More →

Turón is a mountain village where visitors can enjoy rich gastronomy as well as cultural activities, and spectacular scenery. The origins of the village are in the Roman era; however, Neolithic… More →

Torvizcón is the largest town in the Contraviesa, the part of the Alpujarras between the Sierra Nevada and the sea. The village’s traditional whitewashed houses are silhouetted against the Sierra… More →

One of the most striking features of this Granada village is its privileged location, nestled between la Sierra de la Contraviesa and the Mediterranean Sea, making it the perfect destination for… More →

This village, located in the Sierra Nevada National Park, has an important factor which distinguishes it from all the other Alpujarra villages: its altitude. This factor allows visitors to enjoy… More →

The tiny hamlet of Rubite is an ideal destination for nature lovers, with the perfect combination of the sierra together with both sandy and rocky beaches. Situated in the shadow of La Maroma, the… More →

Pórtugos is truly a gift from nature: the village is the source of natural mineral waters with a high iron content; red in colour, they descend in a waterfall called La Fuente Agria. This waters… More →

The area of Nevada is the highest and most eastern-wards in the Alpujarra, and offers amazing natural landscapes. Here, you'll have the opportunity to see wild goats, one of the animals that best… More →

The municipality of Murtas is situated at more than 1,500m, making it one of the best vantage points for viewing the whole area - from the peaks of Sierra Nevada until the Mediterranean coast. The… More →

This village is a great combination of the beautiful sierra and the beach, which is just a few minutes away. As a result, visitors to Lújar can experience the mountains and the sea on the same day… More →

Lobras is a small village with its distinctive own personality. It feels as if time has stood still when you walk along its streets and visit its monuments. The location also means that visitors… More →

The area of La Tahá was part of the Taha de Ferreira, one of 14 such areas established during the Nasrid occupation (they were the Moorish dynasty who built the Alhambra). The tahas were… More →

Situated among chestnut forests, in the highest region of the Alpujarra, Juviles is a small village with links to the past and an air of tranquillity. The most important archaeological remains… More →

Visitors to Cástaras might think that in this village, time has stood still. Its privileged location offers impressive panoramic views over the alpujarra granadina. The village is of Arabic origin… More →

Visitors looking for tranquillity and the opportunity to spend a few days relaxing will find Carataunas the perfect destination. It is the smallest village in the whole of the Alpujarra region;… More →

This village, located in the Alpujarra region, is home to some beautiful natural monuments. The village itself has kept the Arabic influence alive, with narrow streets, whitewashed houses and flat… More →

Cádiar is a completely mountainous village that has preserved it´s Morisco feel and character. It was formed by three neighbourhoods: Cádiar, Narila and Yátor, and is situated between Sierra… More →

Busquístar is located in a privileged natural environment, next to the ravine formed by the Trévelez River and inside the Sierra Nevada national park. It was previously known as el paraíso… More →

The village of Bérchules is made up of two smaller areas: Bérchules and Alcútar. The village is largely a working orchard, served by many different water sources. The sources of the river… More →

In this small village time appears to have stood still. The land and streets are just as they were during the Muslim dynasty, when the village first began. The narrow, steep streets and typically… More →

This village in Granada province has a lot to offer visitors. It is the perfect place to enjoy nature, a rich cultural history and the Mediterranean Sea, which is less than 20km away. The origins… More →

Most well-known for its mouth-watering cured ham, jamón serrano, the village of Trevélez is the highest in mainland Spain, at 1,476m. Its clear mountain air is ideal for drying the sweet-tasting… More →

Halfway between Capileira and Pampaneira in the Poqueira gorge is the sleepy village of Bubión, which like its neighbours is surrounded by magnificent views of the often snow-capped Sierra Nevada… More →

The highest of the three villages in the Barranco de Poqueira, at 1,436m, Capileira is a good base for walking in the gorge itself or up to the Sierra Nevada. Its twisting, steep streets are… More →

Around 50 km from Granada city and the first town you come to in the Western Alpujarras, Lanjarón is considered the gateway to the region. It is famous for its mineral water which is sold… More →

One of a trio of popular and picturesque whitewashed villages, Pampaneira – like its neighbours Bubión and Capileira – hugs the steep slopes of a lush river gorge, the Barranco de Poqueira.… More →

In the fertile valley of the Guadalfeo river is the largest town of the western Alpujarras, Órgiva. At 450m, Órgiva has a milder climate than many other places in the Alpujarras and is surrounded… More →

The village's Moros y los Cristianos, a popular festival dating from the 16th century, is one of the most famous in Spain. As one of the last regio ns to harbour the Moors, the Alpujarras is one… More →

The British writer Gerald Brenan immortalised Yegen in his book South from Granada, published in 1957. Today, you can see his former house, marked by a plaque, just off the main square, while… More →

The village of Alpujarra de la Sierra is a must-see destination for students of the life and work of Gerald Brenan. The Hispanics writer originally from England, lived in the Yegen area of the… More →


Book Hotels in Las Alpujarras

Offering a restaurant and seasonal outdoor swimming pool, El Cercado is set in Andalusia’s beautiful Alpujarras Mountains. Located in Bérchules, the hotel features free Wi-Fi and a spa and wellness centre available for a surcharge. Each heated rustic-style apartment has a fireplace, a kitchenette equipped with a microwave, and a bathroom with a shower.

Located in the Andalusian spa town of Lanjarón, Hotel Alcadima offers impressive views over the Salao Valley. This typical country house has indoor and outdoor pools and a sauna. Some rooms at the Alcadima Hotel have a private balcony, overlooking the countryside or the interior Andalusian courtyards. All rooms are air conditioned and include satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge.