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Musings Abroad-My Life in Spain: Exploring Las Alpujarras

A street and irrigation system in a Las Alpujarras village. (Photo credit: Anna Groeling).
The Alpujarras covers two provinces in Andalucía: Granada and Almería (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).
The Alpujarras covers two provinces in Andalucía: Granada and Almería (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).

The familiar chill of mountain air greeted me as soon as I stepped off the bus. For about the past hour and a half we had driven up narrow and twisty roads. The landscape, though very different, reminded me of the Rocky Mountain foothills back home. The foothills of the Sierra Nevadas are open and dotted with terraced farmland. Among this space, where the villages are situated, are
clusters of white flat-roofed buildings.

Part of a large loom used to make the traditional Jarapas rugs (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).
Part of a large loom used to make the traditional Jarapas rugs (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).

Welcome to the Las Alpujarras, a region that still has a strong foothold in its past. The Moors took refuge here in 1492, after being driven out of Granada by Christian conquerors. The architecture of the buildings and its traditions reflect the strong Muslim influence. The region is known as “The Tibet of Europe” due to its unique historical footprint. Among these traditions are the traditional rugs called Jarapas, which are made using a loom. They are the most popular commodity among tourists.

A street and irrigation system in a Las Alpujarras village. (Photo credit: Anna Groeling).
A street and irrigation system in a Las Alpujarras village. (Photo credit: Anna Groeling).

Instead of destroying the mountain for the villages, the streets and houses merge with and follow the land’s curves. Running water can be found everywhere as the streets are divided by these small canals. These cobblestone streets are as narrow and windy, if not more, than the streets it took to get here. The roads and waterways were one of my favorite aspects of the villages.

Las Alpujarras is in an isolated location, which has impacted its economy and the advancement of technology. While there’s electricity and plumbing in every town now, this is still fairly new. The average elevation is 4,000 feet and the villages are located right below a national park.

Las Alpujarras
Women used these baths to wash clothes. They would place a rock in the canal to fill up the tub and the water would travel through the town’s irrigation system. This was a time and place for women to socialize with one another. (Photo credit: Anna Groeling).

My journey around the Alpujarras took me to three villages: Capilera, Bubión and Pampaneira. While hiking to Pampaneira I was able to see where almonds are grown. Although I was in Las Alpujarras for most of the day, I felt like I didn’t have nearly enough time there. I’d like to return to the region. Perhaps next time I’ll also see where olives also grow in the region!

 

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