TRAVEL GUIDES recommend the country houses around Orgiva as an ideal base to explore this diverse region, describing it as ‘THE GATEWAY TO LA ALPUJARRA”.
Drive north, east, south or west and you’ll soon see why.
ORGIVA IS ONLY 450 METRES ABOVE SEA LEVEL so it’s easy to explore the mountains, travel down to the coast, or go across country to Granada.
FOUR ROADS LEAVE ORGIVA, one goes south to the Mediterranean coast, another heads west leading on to Granada. The third takes windier roads up to the remoter villages of the Eastern Alpujarras and the fourth goes up high, to over 4500 metres into the mountains and the famous white villages of the Poqueiria Valley. Here’s a pick of our current favourite attractions – though this is an ever growing list.
The Albaycin, Granada – The Albaycin is the old Arab Quarter. It covers the area between the hill of the Alhambra, the hill of San Cristobal, the Sacromonte and Elvira. There is a very strong North African influence in the shops, bars and terraces and no visit to the region is complete without watching the sunset over the Alhambra palace from one of the bars on the hill above the Albaycin.
The Alhambra, Granada – The Alhambra is a Moorish palace built on Al Sabika hill above Granada. Strictly speaking it is a complex of palaces as the site was added to over the centuries and includes the Nasrid palaces dating from the 14th Century, the 15th-century Palacio de Carlos V and the famous water gardens of the Generalife. A word of warning, this is one of the prime tourist attractions in Europe and queues are long. It’s worthwhile booking ahead of time at alhambra-tickets.es, where you can buy tickets up to three months ahead of time and print them out at the Alhambra entrance. There is an excellent article on the Alhambra and Granada here.
Andalucia is also famous for its Arab Baths where you can while away the hours with a soak or a massage in the most exquisitely decorated surroundings. Granada has both the original and newer baths modelled on the old style. Try the originals, its an experience not to be missed.
Hammam Al Ándalus Arab Baths is the first Arab bath in Europe at Calle Santa Ana, 16, 18009 Granada, close to the Alhambra. You can book a session via their web site here.
The White Villages of the Alpujarras are situated high in the mountains, there are five within a short drive of the house, all of which are worth visiting. It’s worth mentioning that the higher you climb, the cooler the daytime temperature – in mid summer, these villages make for an excellent daytime excursion.
Canar – Located about 15 minutes drive from the house, take the road towards Lanjeron and turn sharp right at the junction just past the bridge. Canar is notable for an uninterrupted view to North Africa on a clear day. Even on a hazy summers day the view is extraordinary and for photographers, both dawn and sunset offer stunning opportunities. The village has few facilities other than a couple of bars, it is typically Alpujarran with animal stabling integrated into houses that open onto the main street and square.
Soportújar – a picturesque and well maintained village neighbouring Canar, An opportunity for photographers here is the Dique 24, a remarkable dam across the deep gorge of the Rio Chico. For walkers, the GR47 footpath crosses the stream just above the dam.
Pampaneira The lowest of a trio of white villages in the high Alpujarras – about 45 minutes drive from the house, the road up the Poqueira gorge is excellent, and the views spectacular. Once there, browse the craft shops and enjoy tapas at one of the excellent roadside restaurants.
Bubion – a short walk or drive uphill from Pampaneira, Bubion hosts a thriving artistic community providing traditional and modern Alpujarran rugs and textiles. Dating from Roman times, the village, a huddle of winding streets and traditional Moorish architecture – white walls, flat roofs and the characteristic chimneys, is perched on the side of the mountain very close to the GR 7/E4 walk.
Capileira – the highest of the trio at 1436 metres above sea level, Capileira boasts fantastic restaurants and bars dotted around a central market place. There is an excellent shop on the main road that sells cured meats, honey and a huge selection of the delicious local sherries and wine which is provided from oak barrels decanted into unmarked plastic bottles. Also make sure you try the local cheeses. There is a local cheese made from ewes milk that is a close relative of Manchego – not to be missed!
Trevelez – contrary to popular belief, this is only the second highest village in Spain. Trevélez is famous for the quality of its air-cured hams, a speciality throughout the Alpujarras but particularly associated with this village, because the colder climate at this altitude makes for ideal conditions for storing them.