Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Ugíjar is a village in the Alpujarras situated in the east of the province of Granada. It is one of the largest communities in the region and quite different to the other pueblos blancos that dot the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Like the other white villages of the Alpujarra, Ugíjar does have narrow, winding stone-paved streets lined with houses that resemble those of northern Africa with their whitewashed façades and flat roofs. However, the town is notable for the fact that many of its houses have tiled roofs, which is unusual for the Alpujarras. Some of these houses are quite grand and were built in the 16th & 17th centuries for the many wealthy merchants who lived there.

 The village may not be as quaint as others in the Alpujarras - probably because it is bigger and has more commercial enterprises such as a petrol station, several banks, shops, an oil mill and a municipal market. However, what the town might lack in visual splendour it more than makes up for with its history.

Local legend has it that Ulysses stayed here after the Trojan War. It is said that Calypso detained him here for seven years. It is also alleged that Ulysses looked for gold in the river Nechite while he was here. I don't know about that. From my memory of Homer's 'Odyssey', Ulysses did travel as far as the 'Pillars of Hercules' which historians place at the straits of Gibraltar, so maybe his journeys included Spain.

What is not in dispute is that Ugíjar was part of the Kingdom of Granada until 1492, the year when King Boabdil handed over the keys of Granada to the 'Catholic Monarchs'. Up until that time, the town produced silk, cotton and linen and this was exported to other Mediterranean countries via the port of Almería. A sign of the town's previous affluence is demonstrated by the fact that many of the buildings have towers and roof tiles.

typical architecture of Ugíjar

Apart from the attractive ancestral homes there are a number of other interesting buildings including the parish church - the Iglesia de la Virgen del Martirio - built in Mudéjar style. Other buildings of religious importance are the Ermita de San Antón, the Ermita de Santa Lucia and the Franciscan Convent of Saint John the Baptist.

Iglesia de la Virgen del Martirio

Robert Bovington


more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

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