Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mijas (a pueblo blanco nr Málaga)

There are many pueblo blancos in the province of Málaga including my favourite, Mijas. It is situated in the foothills of the coastal mountain range that overlooks the coast. The town's maze of old Moorish streets are awash with colour - pottery, basketwork and other goods are displayed in the many shops and colourful floral displays adorn the walls of the houses. Mijas is a good place to get away from the urban sprawl of Fuengirola.

My wife likes Mijas because of the shops. Yes, some are a trifle touristy and sell the usual pottery, leather goods and pictures of whitewashed houses. However, a few establishments are more tasteful and sell antiques and fine art. There are also the little bars and restaurants some with stunning panoramic views.

I just like walking the steep narrow streets and admiring the little houses with their white facades adorned by colourful pots of flowers.

On one occasion, I walked up to the little chapel, the 'Calvario Hermitage', on the hill high above Mijas. It was rather a strenuous climb amidst pine trees and I wished, at the time, that I had picked a colder day to do it but once there I enjoyed the views and the well-earned rest.
Calvario Hermitage

Another chapel in Mijas is the Hermitage of the Virgen de la Peña, the patron saint of Mijas.  Mercedarian monks built the chapel in 1520 and inside is a carved wooden image of the virgin allegedly dating back to AD850. It is a delightful little building, although I find it a bit incongruous that, just like a number of ancient churches that I have visited in recent years, it has electronic candles rather than the real thing!

Hermitage of the Virgen de la Peña

My favourite place is 'La Muralla' - a park with balconies from where one can view the coast below. It is a quiet oasis away from the bustle of tourists, yet is only a few minutes walk from the centre - just up past the Plaza de Toros.
La Muralla

Robert Bovington


by Robert Bovington

Twenty-nine years ago, my wife and I enjoyed a two-week package tour holiday in Benidorm. Yes, really - we enjoyed it!

Benidorm 1982

I am not quite sure how we came to decide to visit the Costa Blanca for a holiday - perhaps it was cheap - I can't remember.

Initially the resort itself didn't impress us too much. It appeared to suffer from all the worst excesses of mass tourism. High rise hotels and apartment blocks, restaurants that served "full English breakfast", burger bars, discos and nightclubs.

Even back then we weren't really into lazing on the beach - nor were we party animals. Our idea of a good holiday was to do some sightseeing that maybe included a visit to a museum. We might go for a walk in the countryside making sure that we visited a hostelry for a midday drink or two. So how come we found Benidorm so enjoyable?

For a start, the town is handily placed to visit some delightful places in the province of Alicante. On our holiday we went to Altea, Guadalest, Alicante and the Isla de Benidorm.

Altea is a pretty little town only ten kilometres north of Benidorm. The old village comprises a labyrinth of narrow alleys between whitewashed houses, dominated by a blue-domed church. The only problem is that one has to climb more than two hundred steps to reach it! However, it is well worth the effort.

Guadalest is quite spectacular. This mountain village is carved out of a mountaintop and breathtaking views can be enjoyed there, especially from the tower of the castle Peñon de la Alcalá. This ancient citadel towers over the village which itself is picturesque with its artists' workshops, cafes and museums. It is well worth a visit if you can tear yourself away from the beaches and bars of Benidorm. You won't be alone, however, because Guadalest is one of the top tourist attractions in Spain. It will still be less crowded than Benidorm's beaches though!

La Isla de Benidorm
The little island that can be seen from the beaches of Benidorm is a nice place to visit if you fancy a picnic. It is called la Isla de Benidorm because it is an island near Benidorm! Boats leaving the port take about 20 minutes to get there. The island is uninhabited except for a summer bar and hundreds of birds - the feathered variety - you need to visit Benidorm's discos and nightclubs for the other sort. Boat trips can be taken to other places along the coast such as Calpe, a pleasant place to visit despite modern day colonisation - there are Northern European establishments including British bars serving full English breakfasts and pints of bitter. The town is a mix of old and new and has a traditional fishing village and a quaint old quarter. The Peñon de Ifach, a 332 metre rocky outcrop that serves as a nature reserve, looms over the town.
Alicante, the capital of the province, is worth a visit. It has a castle, a marina, parks, promenades, museums and art galleries. In my view it is much more interesting than Benidorm. We visited by train. It was a pleasant journey travelling between Benidorm and Alicante along the narrow-gauge track. Another excellent train journey from Benidorm is on the Limón Express. It is a narrow-gauge vintage train. It is called the Limón Express because it is painted a sort of lemony colour. Travelling on this train is more of an excursion than a means of getting from Benidorm to Gata de Gorgos. At this destination passengers can visit a guitar factory or watch artisans at work making basketwork. The little train passes through spectacular landscape - enough to make you intoxicated if the champagne that is served to passengers doesn't!

Mirador del Castillo

We did do a little swimming and sunbathing during our fortnight in Benidorm but not on the crowded Levante or Poniente beaches. Instead we made our way to the little beach near the Mirador del Castillo. We much preferred the old town of Benidorm with its Spanish bars rather than the International bars and restaurants and had excellent paella, the speciality of this region, in one of the establishments near the Mirador.
I have to confess, though, that most evenings were spent in one of the hundreds of International bars. I had good reason - the 1982 World Cup was being held in Spain whilst we were there! It was the first time that I had encountered large screen TVs in bars. Many establishments also had live entertainment - a band playing on one side of the room - a football match on the other side. We positioned ourselves in the middle so that my wife could face the music whilst I watched the World Cup - I faced the music later for watching football on holiday!

We did a few touristy things like going to a medieval banquet where we watched jousting whilst tucking into heaps of barbecued food and great quantities of wine. We went on a trip to the mountains where we rode on a donkey to a picnic site, ate our packed lunch and consumed further great quantities of wine.

So even we museum hopping, party poopers enjoyed Benidorm and I would guess that many people still do. All the things that we enjoyed are still available and more. There are theme parks, water sports, night-clubs, discos, restaurants and bars galore.

Benidorm has also endeavoured to improve its image. Over the last couple of decades it has tried to appeal to all types of people not just the working classes of Northern Europe looking for a cheap foreign holiday. In a lot of ways it has succeeded. It is said that it is now the cultural centre of the Costa Blanca - I wouldn't go as far as that. It has a healthy pop music culture - many top artists have appeared there including Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. The International Song Festival is held there annually. However for what I call culture - classical music, opera, museums, art galleries and historical architecture then surely Alicante and Elche or, further afield, Valencia need to be visited.

However I will concede that Benidorm is an extremely popular holiday destination. It has come a long way from the small fishing village of the 1950s.

Robert Bovington
Roquetas de Mar
November 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tabernas desert Almería

The Tabernas desert is the only true desert in Europe. It is located between the great rocky masses of the Sierra de los Filabres and the Sierra Alhamilla. The scenery here is startling - the arid yellow ochre landscape contrasts with the vivid blue Almerian sky. It is also 'Wild West' country - dozens of spaghetti westerns like 'A Fistful of Dollars' were made here and visits can be made to 'Mini Hollywood'. If you have children you should take them there - they will enjoy it. I did!

Robert Bovington
25 Nov 2011

Pigs to the slaughter | Olive Press Newspaper Spain | News

Pigs to the slaughter | Olive Press Newspaper Spain | News:

'via Blog this'

Interesting article about killing of pigs every November in Andalucía.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Casemates Square 

Because Gibraltar is located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, I thought I would include it in this blog. Anyway, the Spanish contest ownership of the British colony! (though since they possess bits of the Moroccan mainland - Cueta & Melilla - I don't think can complain).

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory occupying a narrow peninsula overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. 'The Rock' is just that - a colossal chunk of ancient limestone that was thrust up from the seabed millions of years ago to form what is now the highly visible Rock of Gibraltar.

Its history is inextricably linked to its strategic position. Its first important military encounter was in AD 711 when Tarik-ibn-Zeyed led a huge Moorish army that was to conquer most of the Iberian Peninsula. Moors and Christians fought many battles here during the 14th and 15th centuries and the Spanish Christians finally succeeded in dispatching the Arabs back to Africa in 1462. British forces took the Rock in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession and British sovereignty over Gibraltar was subsequently recognised by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.

Gibraltar attractions include the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Some 500 species of small flowering plants grow there as does wild olive and pine. As far as fauna is concerned, there are rabbits, foxes and monkeys! Yes, monkeys inhabit the Rock - the Barbary apes are the only wild monkeys in Europe. Other attractions include St Michael's Cave, the Moorish Castle and the Great Siege Tunnels.

Down in the town centre, Main Street is unmistakably British with Marks and Spencer, BhS, pubs and bright red post boxes. Nearby Casemates Square, however, has a more continental air with many open-air cafes.

Contrary to popular belief the majority of Gibraltarians are not of English or Spanish ancestry - Genoese, Maltese, and Portuguese formed the majority of the population when the Rock was ceded to Great Britain.

English is the official language, which is used for government and business purposes but many Gibraltarians speak Llanito, a mixture of English and Andalucian Spanish.

Robert Bovington
23 Nov 2011


by Robert Bovington

Cartagena is old. It already had an illustrious past when the Roman general, Scipio, renamed it Carthago Nova - New Carthage - in 209 BC.

The city is an important port and naval base but its glory days were in the past - a bit like Portsmouth and Chatham really! So when I visited Cartagena recently, I was expecting to see decrepit, run-down areas with old dreary houses. I was pleasantly surprised! What I encountered was a bright airy city with pedestrianised boulevards and decorative buildings. One road in particular - Calle Major - is particularly attractive with shops, eating places and 19th-century mansions with colourful façades such as Cervantes House and Llagostera House both in Modernist style. The Grand Hotel is another building in this road that has modernist influences and a spectacular dome caps its circular façade.

Cartagena_Gran Hotel
There are attractive and historical buildings throughout the city as well as museums - many of a naval and military nature. There are also a number of archaeological sites including Carthaginian and Roman ruins.


At one end of Calle Major is another extremely photogenic area - the Plaza de Ayuntamiento where the City Hall building is located. Nearby are attractive gardens that lead to the Paseo de Alfonso XII, which overlooks the marina. It is a pleasant place to sit with a glass of beer. The Peral Submarine is located on this promenade. 
According to local tourist information Isaac Peral, invented the submarine in 1889. Whilst Senor Peral undoubtedly designed the fine specimen of a U-boat that is on display, the locals are wrong to allege that he invented the submarine - a Dutchman, Cornelis Drebbel, built the first one in 1620! Submarines were also used during the American Civil War (1861-65). 
Cartagena - modernista building in Calle Mayor 


ISBN: 1445225433 ISBN-13: 9781445225432 ***

Robert Bovington

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 robert bovington robert bovington:

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Indalo Man (symbol of Almería)

Go into any gift or souvenir shop in the city of Almería or the tourist resorts of Roquetas de Mar and Mojácar and you will find key rings, thimbles, teaspoons and even jewellery - all bearing the Indalo symbol. Furthermore, on the road to Almería airport a giant statue of the Indalo stands prominently on a roundabout towering over the 'Welcome to Almería' sign.
So what is so special about this stick figure man that the Almeriense, the people of Almería, call the Indalo? Well, in 1868, cave paintings were discovered in a cave in the north of the province of Almería. These paintings were about 6,000 years old and one of them, a man with his arms held out to his sides and holding a rainbow above his head, has come to be the symbol of Almería.
The Indalo allegedly brings good luck, health and love to those who own one. It is customary in this region of Spain to paint the Indalo symbol on the front of houses and businesses to protect them from evil. The interesting thing to note, however, is that this practice of warding off evil spirits by having the Indalo symbol above the door has been going on for centuries, so the locals must have known about the symbol before the cave discovery. In olden days fishermen used to pin the symbol on their doors before going out to sea as a protection against storms and as a guarantee of obtaining a good catches. Perhaps they still do!
The cave in question, la Cueva de los Letreros, was declared a National Monument in 1924. It is situated near the town of Vélez Blanco.

Guadix (a town of troglodytes)

by Robert Bovington

Guadix is a town in the province of Granada that occupies part of an elevated plateau among the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

Guadix Cathedral
When I visited the town I thought it a rather quirky sort of place. I had driven there from Almería and as I approached the town it appeared to be set amidst a lunar landscape. The town centre is conventional enough. The Cathedral with its Baroque tower looked impressive from the outside but inside I felt that it was rather dark and gloomy. It stands in the Plaza de Constitución and this area of the town, the Barrio de Santiago, has many fine buildings.

There are two other districts in Guadix - the Barrio de Santa Ana and the Barrio de la Cuevas. The Barrio de Santa Ana is the old Moorish quarter that consists of a network of narrow alleyways with whitewashed house, decked out with floral arrangements. However, the most famous feature of the town is the cave dwellings in the Barrio de la Cuevas where around half the population live. When I visited the area, I thought that I was in a scene from 'The Lord of the Rings'! It was just like 'The Shire' - with little white chimneys poking out of the ground! The caves are not primitive dwellings, however but are a solution to the fierce heat of the Andalucian summer. The interior of the cave houses are cool in summer and warm in winter and have all the necessities of modern living - it is quite strange seeing television aerials on the little hillocks!

Guadix cave house
Just outside of Guadix is Purullena where there are more cave dwellings including a complete street of them with shop frontages - all these shops sell pottery.

Castillo de la Calahorra

A few miles away, is the town of La Calahorra with its magnificent castle, the Castillo-Palacio de La Calahorra, built on a hill overlooking the town. It lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. Driving from the Alpujarras to Guadix via the Puerto de Ragua pass, the only road to traverse the north and south faces of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is a spectacular journey.

Yegen (a village in the Alpujarras)

Yegen is a little village in the Alpujarra of Granada situated between the villages of Válor and Mecina Bombarón. Like other pueblos blancos in this region, Yegen is situated amidst spectacular scenery lying as it does on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

The Alto de San Juan lies to the north of the village. It is one of the lesser peaks of the Sierra Nevada National Park but it is still pretty high with an altitude of 9,000 feet. Yegen, itself, is 4000 feet above sea level and to the south, below the village, are the valleys of Cadíar and Ugíjar. Opposite is the Sierra de la Contraviesa, which can provide tantalising glimpses of the Mediterranean beyond to travellers who view it from the appropriate location.

In the immediate vicinity of the village are forests of chestnut above the village and further up poplar. Below the village are groves of orange and olive.

Yegen is not as picturesque as villages like Pampaniera and Capileira - nor as large as Órgiva and Ugíjar. However, it is worthy of mention because it was the setting for 'South from Granada' by the celebrated English author Gerald Brenan. He lived in Yegen between 1920 and 1930. A number of famous friends visited him there including Virginia Woolf.

Gerald Brenan
Brenan was one of the foremost English chroniclers of Spain and its people. He wrote 'The Spanish Labyrinth' and 'The Face of Spain' but it was 'South from Granada' for which he is most famous. It was his autobiography of his time in Yegen.

There is a plaque over the door of the house where the author lived and one of the streets in the village is named after him. There is even a 'Sendero de Gerald Brenan' footpath - it is one of a number of walking routes in the vicinity of Yegen. The long distance GR7 passes nearby. It is part of the International E-4 footpath that runs all the way from Tarifa to Greece. So even without Gerald Brenan, Yegen can lay claim to being well and truly on the map!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dalías (Alpujarra Almeriense)

Dalías is a town in the province of Almería. It consists of two main areas - Dali and Celín. Sitting as it does in the foothills of the Sierra de Gádor, Dalías is often considered part of the Alpujarra Almeriense. Certainly its northern boundaries are extremely picturesque – the mountains loom over the town and the Celín area is extremely rural and the Celín Recreation Area is a pleasant place for a picnic.

picnic site at Celín

South of the town is a different matter. The Campo de Dalías is, in my view, the ugliest area in the whole of the province of Almería with its ocean of plastic, the ubiquitous invernaderos. 30,000 hectares of agricultural greenhouses have, since the 80's, sprung up in the south western region of Almería. Maybe they are an improvement on the original Campo de Dalías because author Gerald Brenan wasn’t too enamoured with the area either. In his book ‘South from Granada’ he wrote “…a depressing sight met my eye. For fifteen miles the road ran in a perfectly straight line across a stony desert……it is a delta of stone and rubble pushed eight miles into the sea by the erosion of the Sierra de Gádor…”.

But back to Dalías – it has a number of attractive buildings – none more so than its main church, Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María de Ambrox. It is large – surprisingly so considering the size of the town and is extremely appealing both within and without. It has had a troubled history. It has been destroyed and severely damaged on a number of occasions since it was first erected in the 16th century. It was first occasion was during the Morisco rebellion in the Alpujarras in 1568. An earthquake caused its complete destruction in 1804 and as recently as 1993 a fire caused extensive damage. Today, it is a delightful building and is situated in an attractive plaza close to the town hall. 

Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María de Ambrox

A short walk away, is the Casino de Dalías which was built in the early twentieth century but which resembles a nineteenth-century style town house. It has an ornate façade and is the hub of the social and cultural life of the town with dances and concerts.

One of the great assets of towns located in the Sierra de Gádor is water. There are many fuentes in the Dalías area and the town council have installed signs to accompany a tourist trail that incorporates twenty of these watering places. The trail is called ‘La Ruta de las Fuentes de Dalías’. It starts at the Fuente de Peregrino and finishes at the Arroyo de Celín, a delightful recreation area for walking and for picnics (if you don’t mind ducks trying to share your food).

Fuente del Doctor Vicente Granados
Saint José María Rubio y Peralta
(picture in Iglesia Parroquial de
Santa María de Ambrox)

Of the famous people of Dalías, I will mention two:
José María Rubio (1864-1929) was the first and only saint born in the province of Almería.
Juan Callejón Villegas, a 19th century diplomat, the great great grandfather of actress Helena Bonham Carter.

Robert Bovington
Roquetas de Mar Nov 2011

Ayuntamiento de Dalías

Monday, November 14, 2011

Laujar de Andarax (Alpujarra Almeriense)

Laujar de Andarax is a town in the Alpujarras with a special charm and a turbulent history. It nestles in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Opposite are the mountains of the Sierra de Gádor whilst a fertile valley separates the two mountain ranges. It is a delightful setting.

Laujar de Andarax
Laujar is located near the source of the Andarax River that provides water for the numerous fountains in the town. There are a number of fine buildings too and none more so than its principal church - Iglesia Parroquial de la Encarnación. Dating from the 17th century, this Mudéjar building with a Baroque finish is quite attractive. The church is known as the 'Cathedral of Alpujarra'.
It was built on the foundations of a mosque. I do not know if it was the original mosque that was set on fire in 1500 with the population inside - they were hiding there during the first Moorish revolt. What I do know is that the entire Moorish population was obliged to convert to Christianity or leave the kingdom. Those Moors who converted were known as moriscos. Later, 1568-71, there was a second Alpujarras rebellion. The leader of this revolt was Abén Humeya, King of the Moriscos. However, his nephew Aben Aboo assassinated him and proclaimed himself as his uncle's successor. He established the capital of his kingdom in Laujar. Following many bloody battles, the moriscos were finally expelled from the Alpujarras. This town, like many others, was left deserted for many years until people from outside the Kingdom of Granada repopulated it.
Today, Laujar de Andarax is a thriving town and it is still a capital - it is the capital of the Alpujarra of Almería. It is well known for it's wine and there are a number of bodegas locally that welcome visitors. It is one of the most accessible places in the Alpujarras being only a 40-minute drive from the coastal town of Almerimar.

Nacimiento nr Laujar

I frequently visit the Alpujarras and often go to Laujar to purchase some of its local produce - particularly honey and the delicious soplillos, which are chewy meringues made with almonds. However, there is another reason I visit the town. About 1 kilometre north of Laujar is 'El Nacimiento' - a delightful area of waterfalls, picnic areas and places to walk. My wife and I usually go there in Spring and Autumn on weekdays and, mostly, we have the place to ourselves. It is a haven of peace and tranquillity. Nacimiento means 'birth' and it is here that the Río Andarax starts its journey to the sea near Almería.

extract from “Spanish Impressions” by Robert Bovington
ISBN 978-1-4452-2543-2 available from

La Envia golf course nr Roquetas de Mar

Located in a beautiful valley amidst the mountains of Vícar, the golf course is surrounded by mountains of the Sierra de Gádor, which protect it from the easterly and westerly winds. 

Capileira (an Alpujarran village)

by Robert Bovington
Capileira, at 1436 metres, is the highest of the three Alpujarran villages in the Poqueira valley. Like the other settlements in the Alpujarra, it has narrow streets and its houses have been adapted to the needs of the steep terrain and the local climate - they are whitewashed, have flat roofs and are reminiscent of the architecture of North Africa.
In the centre of the village there is a museum that displays the arts and popular customs of the Alpujarra. There is also an 18th century church - the Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María la Mayor.
However, most people who visit Capileira do so in order to walk - Capiliera is a centre for walking and for accessing the mountains especially Mulhacén which is generally treated as a two-day climb from Capileira with an overnight stop at a mountain refuge en route. Well, they can't drive that way! The Sierra Nevada Highway used to run through Capileira and out across the Sierra Nevada towards the city of Granada. However, motor traffic is no longer permitted beyond Capileira.

If you do decide to walk in the Sierra Nevada, take care - in 2004 some experienced British walkers lost their lives when the weather changed for the worse! Personally, I would only walk up there in the summer - at those altitudes it is bloody cold! In any case, I prefer to walk between the villages of the Poqueira Gorge. Pampaneira to Capileira via Bubión is a pleasant walk.

Las Alpujarras

by Robert Bovington
Las Alpujarras is the area of picturesque white villages that cling to the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. It is a nature lover's delight. Torrents cascading down from the frozen summits of the high Sierra have cut deep ravines into the rock leaving the lower slopes a brilliant green. Olive and almond trees abound and as one travels higher into the Alpujarras, oak, chestnut and pine forests flourish. Every season in the Alpujarras is special - even winter with its orange trees heavy with fruit.

Chris Stewart, in his best-selling book 'Driving over Lemons' tells a riveting tale of life on a remote farm in the Alpujarras. When we moved to Spain my wife and I, for a number of practical reasons - like not wanting the hard work that comes with working a farm, decided to live on the coast. However, intrigued by Chris Stewart's book, we started to regularly go on trips into the Alpujarras which are only an hour's drive away from our home in Roquetas de Mar. The Alpujarras has become one of our favourite places.

Ugíjar is one of the most easterly towns of the Granada Alpujarras - the most westerly towns being Lanjarón and Órgiva. However, that is only half the story - a large part of the Alpujarras is located in Almería province! La Alpujarra Almeriense may not as be well known as the Granada Alpujarra but it is, nevertheless, a special place.

The whole region is special and one of great natural beauty. The valleys of the western Alpujarras are among the most fertile in Spain, though the steep nature of the terrain means that they can only be cultivated in small fields, so that many modern agricultural techniques are impractical. However, that adds to the charm of the area - at least for us idle buggers who don't have to work the fields. On a recent walk along the GR7 footpath, near the delightful little town of Válor, I saw a farmer ploughing the side of a hill using a horse and plough!

sheep rearing nr Nechite
Whole mountainsides are given over to growing things - many hillsides are terraced - a legacy of the Moors who also built irrigation channels - acequias - to bring water from the high Sierra to irrigate the crops. The region contains an abundance of fruit trees, especially grape vines, oranges, lemons, persimmons, figs and almonds. The eastern Alpujarra, in the province of Almería, is more arid, but still highly attractive and still rich in fruit bearing trees especially grape, olive and citrus varieties.

Many peoples tried to conquer this mountainous area but it was finally the Moors who succeeded in settling in the Alpujarras. They were the only owners of this region for hundreds of years and even after the fall of Granada in 1492 they were allowed to remain there. Only after the Morisco Revolt of 1568 were these enterprising people forced to leave.

The influence of the Moorish population can be seen in the agriculture, the local cuisine, the local carpet weaving and the numerous Arabic place names.
The houses of the Alpujarras are quite charming with little chimneys sticking out as a reminder that the winter evenings can be a tad chilly. The houses are built of stone, adobe and clay and their façades whitewashed. The distinct cubic construction of these buildings is reminiscent of Berber architecture in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. The steepness of the land means that the houses in the villages seem to be piled on top of one another, and their characteristic flat roofs, distinctive roofed chimneys, and balconies - tinaos - extending across the steep narrow streets give them a unique and picturesque appearance - from a distance they appear to cling precariously to the mountainside.

There are many villages in the region, the largest being Lanjarón, Órgiva, Ugíjar, Laujar de Andarax and Berja. All are situated at a considerable elevation but Trevélez, at 1476 metres above sea level, is the highest town in Spain.

Most of the villages are delightful places to live or visit but the three white villages in the gorge of the Rio Poqueira - Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira -have become recognised tourist destinations and are very popular with walkers.

There are many other traditional villages of similar appearance including Mecina Bombarón and Laroles in Granada province together with the Almerian villages of Ohanes, Padules and Alboloduy.

Trevélez  jámon