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 www.lulu.com

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