Sunday, November 20, 2011

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.







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