Alhama de Granada in the
Granada province is an especially well preserved
village built along a
narrow, dramatic gorge. Alhama is located near the Mediterranean coast of southern
Spain in the Andalucia (Andalus) region. It is northwest of the
southwest of the city of Granada, and to the east of the city of Malaga.
Alhama de Granada is well known for its hot springs, resorts,
Roman and Arab ruins, and dramatic vistas. Roads to Alhama are excellent and well
marked, although they wind quite a bit through the mountains and can take longer than
expected to traverse.
Alhama de Granada, near the large cities of
Malaga, Granada, and
Almeria, is readily
accessible from the heart of the Costa Tropical, Almuñécar:
- From Malaga, take the N-340 highway east towards
Motril, and Almería. Well
before these cities, in about 20 minutes, you reach the town of Velez-Malaga. In
Velez-Malaga take the well-marked road A-402 towards Zafarraya. Once you pass the Ventas de
Zafarraya, the A-402 road continues towards Alhama de Granada. The road is winding and the
views beautiful. The trip takes about one hour from Velez-Malaga.
- From Granada, take the A-338 road to Alhama de Granada.
- From the Costa Tropical town of Almuñecar, Alhama de Granada can be easily accessed
via either a scenic route of backroads or a quicker highway route. For the scenic route
from Almuñecar, take the Sospiro de los Moros road leaving from the back of the town to
Jete and Otivar - about 20 minutes past Otivar, take the first left. This is the road
that heads to the town of Jayena. After Jayena follow the signs to Alhama de Granada.
Vistas along the Sospiro de los Moros road and the stretch between Jayena and Alhama de
Granada are also stunning. For the quicker highway route from Almuñecar, take the N-340
highway west to Velez-Malaga (20 minutes). Once in Velez-Malaga, use the same directions
described above for the approach from Malaga city.
Alhama de Granada is fantastically well preserved without much new construction and development. The
ancient town is built along the cliffs of a deep gorge cut by the river Mechan.
You can take a winding footpath down the gorge cutting through the town and by the river you
find century's old buildings perfect for exploration and photography - a
mill and farmhouses. You will also find many caves in the walls of the cliffs, some of which have been
converted into homes, others into goat pens. Herds of goats gather all along the gorge, and
much of the cliffs are covered in deep green moss. In words, the place is beautiful.
Alhama de Granada is located in the province of Granada, approximately 50 km from the city of
Granada and the same distance from the coast. The town's name is derived from the thermal
baths located there, called al-hammam in Arabic. The town is known for being very quiet and low-key.
Evidence of human settlement in Alhama de Granada dates to Neolithic times. The
Romans were attracted to the area surrounding Alhama by the rich soil
and the thermal baths. Alhama de Granada's town was actually settled by the Arabs who
arrived in the 8th century. In 1482, it was taken from the Moorish
Sultanate and Kingdom of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs. At this time many of the
Arab palaces and mosques of Alhama were replaced by new construction. The
splendid baths built in the 12th century by the Arabs in the Almohade style still remain.
Alhama de Granada, to this day, retains its distinctive Moorish flavor.
In the thermal baths, the magnificent Arabic horse shoe arches were built over the
remains of much earlier Roman construction and are covered by a vaulted roof, pierced
by star-shaped openings that let the daylight filter in. Under the vaulted roof of the
baths bubbles up the warm thermal waters of Alhama de Granada. The newest one, which
springs up a few meters from the other, was discovered in 1884, many centuries after a
terrible earthquake struck very near to the town.
Alhama de Granada has many historical monuments - including the Inqusition House, the
Devil's Stairway, the old Arab dungeons Mazmorros, the old Moorish palace in the center
of town, and several classic churches. Yet Alhama de Granada also offers so much to the
nature lover, including hikes through the town's gorge, lake Bermejales, and the very
large neighboring Sierra de Tejeda, Almijara, and Alhama National Park.
Traditional foods of Alhama de Granada and it's surroundings are based on products produced
locally and in the Alpujarra area, such as plato alpujarreño (eggs, sausage, potatoes,
black pudding), puchero matancero (potatoes, bacon and garbanzos), salchichón, longaniza,
morcilla (cured sausages from local pigs), and sweets from local grapes, almonds, and figs
such as soplillos (honey, sugar cane, egg whites and toasted almonds), and buñuelos (sweet fried fritters).
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