Discover the Alpujarra and the incredible villages of Pampaneira and Capileira
This article on visiting the villages of the Alpujarra is presented in the following sections:
- A few words about the Alpujarra and its origins
- Map to locate the Alpujarra in Andalucia
- What villages to see in the Alpujarra granadina?
- The Alpujarra and crafts: the famous jarapas!
- What to do in the Alpujarra, guided tours?
- What to see in the surroundings of the Alpujarra?
- Some useful links (rent a car, other ideas for visits)
- A selection of local experiences to discover
A few words about the Alpujarra and its origins
The Alpujarra is a historic region of Andalusia with a unique architecture of its villages. The Alpujarra straddles the province of Granada and the province of Almería. This is known as the Alpujarra Granadina and the Alpujarra Almeriense.
At the bottom of the article, you can also discover some great ideas for activities to do if you stay a few days in the province of Granada.
You are about to discover a small region that is a trip within your trip, if you plan to visit Granada and its province. As you will see, it is unique.
Its name comes from an Arabic word ‘al-bugscharra’ (later Spanishised to Alpujarra) which means land of pastures.
This region is geographically located on the southern side of the Sierra Nevada.
It is renowned for its exceptionally beautiful landscape of mountains, valleys and ravines. The Alpujarra also has some of the most beautiful villages in Spain, such as Pampaneira and Capileira.
Finally, it is one of the most legally protected areas in Europe! It belongs to :
- Sierra Nevada National Park.
- The Sierra Nevada Natural Park
- Barranco de Poqueira historic site
- The historical site of La Alpujarra
The history of the Alpujarra in a few words
It was populated by the Iberians and Celts, then the Romans and Visigoths until the period of Al-Andalus.
After 1492 and the reconquest of Granada, a certain number of Moriscos (Spanish Muslims who converted to Catholicism) opposed to this obligation took refuge in the Alpujarra. They revolted in 1568 with the aim of “taking back” Granada. For almost 80 years they continued to live with their customs, religion and language in this isolated and difficult-to-reach region.
This revolt was led by Fernando de Valor y Cordoba (Christian name) whose Muslim name was Muhammad ibn Umayya. This revolt also took place on the coast, in Axarquia in the beautiful village of Frigiliana. Locally this revolt is called the Battle of the Rock of Frigiliana.
This revolt, which began in 1568, ended in a heavy defeat in 1570 and led to the expulsion and dispersion of all the Moriscos. The kingdom repopulated the villages with inhabitants from Asturias, Galicia and Leon.
What makes the identity of the Alpujarra
The influence of the Moors is easily observable: there are many similarities with the culture of the Berbers of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco: agriculture with terrace cultivation, the architecture of the houses, the cuisine, the names of the places (especially the toponyms). There is also a common craft: the manufacture of carpets, the “jarapas”.
What differentiates the houses of these villages from those of the Atlas is only the white lime paint on the walls.
The typical dish today is the “plato Alpujarreño”. It is a mountain dish, and you have to be very thin to finish it! It is mainly composed of “patata a lo pobre”, blood sausage, pork loin, onion, pepper, fried egg and chorizo!
Map to locate the Alpujarra in the province of Granada
This is the dotted red area on the map.
What villages to visit in the Alpujarra granadina?
Its main villages are located halfway between Granada and the coast. It is about an hour’s drive from Motril or Nerja.
Visit Pampaneira in the Alpujarra
The name of the village is of Latin origin, and comes from “pampinus, pampinarius”, which means producer of vine leaves. It was known in Roman times for its vineyards.
Pampaneira is located in the famous barranco (ravine) of Poqueira. This village, like those of Bubion and Capileira, has remained isolated for a long time, which has allowed a different and unique culture to develop.
During the Arab domination, it was an important centre of silk production. The Barranco del Poqueira is one of the most visited natural areas in the province of Granada.
As with the neighbouring villages, it has two parts. The upper part of the village was inhabited by shepherds and the lower part by farmers.
Important remains from the Al-Andalus period have been found, such as those of Alayar and Belezmín. The latter was the first settlement of the Taha de Poqueira. It is one of the few Taha (administrative district of the kingdom of Granada) that was founded by Yemenis.
Pampaneira enjoyed great wealth and influence during the Nasrid period, thanks to the silk trade that made its reputation.
Book accommodation in Pampaneira
Visit Capileira in the Alpujarra
The name of the village is of Latin origin ‘capitellum’ which means ‘summit’.
Capileira is the highest village in the Poqueira barranco.
It is the second highest village in the Iberian Peninsula after the neighbouring village of Trevelez. It is located at an altitude of 1436 metres.
Capileira has 12 fountains, as in the neighbouring villages. They had different functions such as: washing clothes, drinking, irrigating, or serving as a watering place for animals.
Book accommodation in Capileira
Bubion is located 2-3 km from both Capileira and Pampaneira. It is also very beautiful. You can visit the “casa alpujarrena” museum.
The village is called “En Trevelez tocaras el cielo”. This means: In Trevelez you will touch the sky!
It is the highest village in Spain, at 1746 metres above sea level. Houses are particularly characteristic of this region, like the other villages: flat roofs with a chimney, balconies (tinaos), narrow and steep streets.
The highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula is in the municipality of Trevelez: Pico Mulhacén, with an altitude of 3479 m. The name of this peak comes from the name of the Nasrid king Mulay Hasan. This story goes that he was buried on top of this peak. He was the second last Nasrid king, his son Boabdil abdicated in Granada in 1492.
This village is very famous for its hams.
This village is known as “The Gateway to the Alpujarra”. Its reputation is due to the quality of its mineral and medicinal waters.
In the village you can visit a curious museum….the water museum! It is built on an old water mill and its architecture is a total success.
If you are interested in discovering and booking a stay, a weekend in the famous spa of the city: Balneario de Lanjaron.
The Moorish influence is very marked in the village also by its architecture. It is the largest town in the Alpujarra. Its church is of absolute beauty.
A small village, part of the “balcony of the Alpujarra” that has remained typical. Its church and the village square next to it are of absolute beauty.
Visit Soportujar the witches’ village in the Alpujarra
The witches’ village. This village became the witches’ village when it was repopulated after the reconquest by villagers from the north of Spain. They came with their beliefs and legends.
The Alpujarra is known for its handicraft with jarapas
Jarapas are multicoloured carpets made by hand in these villages on looms.
This craft developed after the expulsion of the Moors who left behind the looms used to make silk. The mulberry fields, at that time, surrounded the villages to feed the silkworms.
Jarapa is a coarse fabric, so it is used to make rugs but also blankets, bedspreads and curtains.
Originally: from rags, old clothes and rags the threads were taken to make these famous jarapas.
Today, the process has remained the same, except that the threads from old clothes and rags are no longer used. Instead, the threads from overstocks of towels and other such items are used to make jarapas!
What to do in the Alpujarra, guided tours?
Below are a number of ideas for activities and visits, categorised by theme. You can book them online today.
Bonus: all activities can be cancelled up to 24 hours before the scheduled date:
In the folllowing link one of the best experience in whole Andalucia for nature lovers : a 4 Day Breathtaking Sierra Nevada Mountain Ride from Lanjaron – Alpujarra -.
In the event that you are on holiday on the “Costa del Sol Oriental”, the eastern part of Malaga:
From your place of stay between Nerja and Torre del Mar, a guide organises a day trip to discover the Alpujarra granadina and its most beautiful villages. This tour is only available as a private trip (2 to 8 people max).
To find out more about the tour and request a quote, click on : private Tour to La Alpujarra granadina.
What to see around the Alpujarra?
If you want to go to the coast, the small white village by the sea, called Salobrena, is a little wonder to discover. Salobrena is known as the “Pearl of the Costa Tropical”.
Continuing your journey in the Province of Granada, I invite you to come and discover the small town of Guadix….One of the largest cave dwellings in the world. Nearly 3000 people live in the caves of the town today!
Some useful links (car hire, ideas for visits)
Here is a great car rental agency in Andalusia and more specifically at Malaga airport : book a rental car.
If you are in Andalusia as part of a tour with several major cities to visit, here are some links that may be of interest:
- Discover must-sees before visiting Cordoba
- Visit Malaga with its famous Alcazaba.
- All you need to know about Granada, the Alhambra, the Albaicin neighbourhood before visiting Granada
Discover other beautiful places in Andalusia in the Andalusia blog pages.
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