The region of mountain villages known as Las Alpujarras clings to the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada south of Granada, cloven by deep, sheltered valleys and gorges which run down towards the Mediterranean.
Its physical surroundings together with the Sierra Nevada have been declared a reserve of the biosphere by Unesco in 1988 for its botanical qualities and particular ecological culture. Now the Sierra Nevada is a National Park.
The Alpujarras is a long east-west longitudal valley of about one hundred kilometres, in the provinces of Granada and Almeria. The steep mountain sides offers an alpine landscape at the higher mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada to a Subtropical landscape at the coast. Here is the Contraviesa, a low mountain range well known for its wine
The Alpujarra, 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 - the average altitude is 1,200 m above sea level.
The Alpujarras was 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 allthough they were allowed to live in the Alpujarras.. 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. Soon followed a royal decree expelling from the Kingdom of Granada all people of Arab descent.
The villages of the Alpujarra were resettled with some 12,000 Christian families brought by King Philip II from all parts of 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, Bubión half way up the slope is more tranquil, with its massive square church tower standing on a plaza of rough paving stones. Capileira lies at the top of the valley - the name is an Arabic derivation of the Latin word for head or top – it is nice to 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...
The Alpujarras are ideal for walking.
There are several routes in the area. The most famous one being the GR7, the long distance path which goes from Tarifa all the way to Athens bordering the Meditteranean-
The walkingroute Sulayr is a circular itinerary walking route which circumverences the Sierra Nevada, crossing the natural park as well as the national park. The route accounts to 300 kms and is the longest walking itinerary in Spain of circular layout.
To the accomplishment of this itinerary, old pack animal roads and cattle paths are recovered. Its layout has been outlined such as to create an easy and safe walking itinerary avoiding great slopes. In addition accesses have been defined to and from populated centers, to present their rich cultural patrimony and favouring socioeconomic benefits.
Additionally in 2012 a new bicicle track around the Sierra Nevada is designed.
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.
General website National Park Sierra Nevada in Spanish, English, French and German
See also our blog
Useful information for walkers:
About the Sulayr trail
About walks in the Alpujarras
Rutas con GPS
Senderos en la Alpujarra
Wanderungen in den Sierra Nevada
Wandelingen Alpujarra en algemene informatie
Wandelwebsite van Fred Triep
Holiday rentals in the Alpujarras