The Village of Capileira
The Village of Capileira, the Second Most Beautiful in the Alpujarras...
Capileira, and the Poqueira Gorge, are some of the most beautiful and highly visited areas you will find in the Province of Granada. The village itself is the second highest village in mainland Spain and as can be expected, like Bubion and Pampaneira, its views of the snowcapped mountain peaks in winter and flower-filled gorge in the summer are simply stunning.
Capileira has become a mecca in recent years for hikers and travelers alike looking for a more natural and peaceful holiday retreat.
** A rainbow over the pretty village of Capileira in the Poqueira Gorge
Like the other Poqueira Gorge villages, Capileira is a maze of pretty winding streets filled to the brim with red and pink geraniums, and brightly colored tapestries hanging from the doorways. Because of its Moorish influence, the architecture is a typical Berber style, one that you would find in the high Atlas mountains of Morocco.
Imagine white-washed houses with flat slate roofs... connected by arched doorways and tunnels, and the classic 'chimney pots' smoking away on a cool day. The atmosphere is quiet and dreamy with locals going about their business, children playing in the square, and happy cats with their kittens stretching in the sun.
Contents on This Page
- Views From the Top of the Poqueira Gorge...
- Where is Capileira?
- Where to Stay in Capileira?
- The Best Places to Eat!
- What to Do in Capileira?
- Capileira's Historic District
- Visit the Top Sites in Capileira
- Join a Tour to Capileira
- Hiking in Capileira & the Mulhacen Ascent
- The Tourist Office
- When to Visit Capileira
- How to Arrive
- The History of Capileira & the Alpujarras
Views From the Top of the Poqueira Gorge...
For the most outstanding views of Capileira and the Poqueira Gorge, head north towards the river to the Eras de Aldeire, a series of old threshing floors that were once used for wheat and barley.
Just on the edge of the village is a viewpoint from where you can see the Veleta peak to the north and the villages of the Poqueira Gorge, Bubión and Pampaneira, to the south. The Mediterranean Sea glistens in the distance.
Sometimes in the evening light of autumn and winter, the Rif Mountains of Morocco are visible from here.
** Views of Pampaneira and Bubion from Capileira in the Poqueira Gorge
Because of its unique beauty, Capileira has been declared, together with its two neighbors, as a "Conjunto Histórico Artístico" by the Spanish government, an area of particular artistic and historical importance.
Where is Capileira?
Capileira, with an elevation of 1,436m, is located in the Sierra Nevada National Park in the southern half of the Granada Province. It's the highest village within the Poqueira Gorge and the second highest in Spain, second only to Trevelez. It lies just 74 kilometers from the capital city of Granada.
Where to Stay in Capileira
If you are planning on hiking while in the Alpujarras, I highly recommend staying in the village of Capileira. Most of the hikes start and end in this village and it's also known as the 'doorway to Mulhacen'... the starting point to hike the highest peak in Spain.
Capileira has one great rustic mountain hotel, Finca Los Llanos (our favorite), and several fabulous Berber homes available within the village:
Rent a Pretty Cottage or Berber Home
Another option, which we did on our last visit and LOVED, is to rent a little cottage or a house in town. There are several options in each of the villages for renting an authentic Berber home which really makes your visit special. These cottages are originals from the Moorish era but fixed up to modern standards.
The Best Places to Eat in Capileira!
Like typical mountain fare, Alpujarra cuisine is hearty. Capileira gets very cold during the fall and winter months so what most people crave are hot dishes that will warm you through. The most popular dish you will find is the Alpujarreño Platter which consists of grilled potatoes, fried eggs, baked peppers, and several different types of locally made sausages. The "Patatas a lo Pobre" or Poor Man's Potatoes" is also a classic and is simple yet delicious.
Two of the restaurants we enjoy the most while in town are...
What to Do in Capileira?
A visit to beautiful Capileira will take you about 1-2 hours including a nice lunch. Take some time to wander through its pretty streets and boutiques, walk down to the mirador and take in the breathtaking views, see a few of the sites below, and then relax in Capileira's nice square for a tapa and a cerveza!
1. Capileira's Historic District
If you have now been to both Pampaneira and Bubion, you will notice that Capileira shares the same architecture and beauty as its close neighbors; cobblestone streets and alleys, whitewashed houses with flat Berber roofs and 'chimney pots', and of course the flowers... The women of the Poqueira Gorge are exceptionally proud of their homes and the abundant flowers and plants they adorning their walls...
One difference that you may notice in Capileira, is the number of fountains. The town's water supply comes from the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and rushes into the town's more than 10 fountains and water canals. Have a taste, it's so refreshing on a hot day!
** (1-2) Pretty flower-filled corners in Capileira. (3) Traditional 'tinao' or archway with flowerpots.
2. Capileira's Top Sites - What not to Miss...
The top places to see while you're in the village of Capileira are:
- Museo Etnológico Pedro Antonio Alarcón - On Calle Mentidero, you will find the town museum that has exhibits of local crafts and clothing, and an exhibit about the 19th-century writer Alarcón who wrote an interesting book about the Alpujarras, Viaje a la Alpujarra.
The museum is open from 11:00 to 14:30, Tuesday to Sunday.
- Iglesia de Santa María de la Cabeza - Rebuilt in the 17th century, This baroque style church stands proudly in Capeleira's main plaza. Inside you will find a gilded, wooden altarpiece and an image of the Virgen de la Cabeza which was donated by the Catholic Monarchs in the 15th century.
** The Church of Santa María de la Cabeza in Capileira's main square and local pottery.
- Craft Shops & Plaza - The main plaza in Capileira is always abuzz. Here you will find restaurants and bars, clothing boutiques, and several craft / specialty shops lining the main road. It's a great place to buy gifts or souvenirs.
- The Fountains - Capileira is the village of fountains... there are more than ten! While strolling through town take a minute to stop for a cold drink of fresh water straight from the mountains above. Remember to look for the sign 'potable' which means drinkable...
** The Berber, flower-filled 'tinaos' and chimney pots.
- Chimney Pots & Tinaos - Keep an eye out for Capileira's typical Berber Chimney Pots and Tinaos. They are everywhere and of special interest because of their Morisco origins.
- The Miradors - Capileira has several miradors with spectacular views, the Mirador del Perchel is located just at the entrance to town and the Eras de Aldeire is lower down with views of the towering Veleta and Mulhacen peaks in the distance.
3. Book a Tour to Capileira & Enjoy!
Tourism in the Alpujarras has been on the rise lately and there are now several tours that leave from Granada. The tours usually stop at one of the lower Alpujarra villages like Lanjarón or Órgiva and then make their way up into the Poquera Gorge to visit Pampaneira and Capileira.
The tours last a full-day and are a great way to see the sights without having to do much planning yourself.
There are also several outdoor activities and tours you can join... if you're feeling adventurous. Rafting, hiking, cycling, or even a Four-Wheel Drive Safari are among your choices... See them all here...
4. Hiking in Capileira & the Mulhacen Ascent
From Capileira you can get anywhere... and ON FOOT! Several amazing trails lead out of this tiny village through the countryside and one even goes up to the highest peaks in Spain, Veleta and Mulhacen.
On these trails, you will cross over bridges, rivers, botanical gardens, six counties, and two provinces and pass through some of the most stunning villages in Andalucia.
- The Mulhacen Ascent (3,479m) - The trek to Mulhacén is a two-day climb from Capileira with an overnight stop at a mountain refuge (2,500m) en route.
Although the old Sierra Nevada Highway runs through Capileira and across the top of the Sierra Nevada mountains towards Granada, cars are no longer permitted to pass. Capileira is now the highest village where public traffic can reach, however, you can continue to a car park where the National park begins and explore on foot.
During the summer months, the National Park also runs a limited bus service to a second starting point (Mirador de Trevélez (2,700m)) for the Mulhacen Ascent that will only take you one-day. Reservations can be made at the Capileira tourist office in the village on the main road.
To climb to the top of Mulhacen no license or guides are required, but there are many private companies that offer guides to take you to the top.
** Spectacular views of the Veleta and Mulhacen Peaks in the Sierra Nevada above Capileira
- The Sulayr Trail - This 300 km circular trail is divided into 19 stages. The trail is connected to the Dornajo Visitor Center and the La Cortijuela Botanical Gardens. The Sulayr Trail is the backbone of the network of Sierra Nevada trails that run between two provinces, six counties, and sixty municipalities, among which is the village of Capileira.
Find more detailed information here: Sulayr Capileira – Trevélez.
- The Poqueira Ravine Route / Atalaya Trail - This route takes around 3 hours & 45 minutes and starts in Capileira. Going north, you cross over to the other side of the gorge and then continue hiking downhill to the village of Pampaneira. From there you hike back up through Bubion and then back into Capileira. For more information on this trail read our guide on our full-day hike.
- Hike to the Chiscal Bridge - This is a great hike if you are looking for something relatively short but want to experience all the beauty and natural abundance that the Poquera Gorge has to offer. Start at the edge of town in Capileira and follow the trail down to the river. The hike will take you about 1 hr & 15 minutes round trip.
** Leaving Capileira on the Atalaya Trail down to the Chiscal Bridge.
- Capileira to Bubion - These are great little hikes if you are just in the Alpujarras for the day and want to explore the villages on foot. There is a path, that connects all three of the villages, that runs on the eastern side of the gorge and it's much shorter than the trails above.
From Capileira, leave town on a trail just below the first parking area, you will arrive in Bubion in about 20 minutes. All downhill.
- Capileira to Pampaneira - Once in Bubion, head towards the lower section of town... near the old laundry. You will find a trail heading out of town towards Pampaneira. This part of the hike will take you another 20 minutes, again all downhill. In Pampaneira you can catch a taxi back to the top.
Address - Barranco De Poqueira, 10 - 18413 - Capileira - (Granada)
Tel: 958 763 051
Fax: 958 763 400
Monday to Saturday: 10:00 – 14:00
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a kiosk on the main road in Capileira on the left-hand side going north. They have maps, tour books, and other helpful information. Plus, they can reserve a place on the shuttle to 'Mirador de Trevélez', the starting point for the one-day hike to Mt Mulhacen.
|# of inhabitants:||~ 582|
|Distance to Granada:||74 km|
** Restaurante La Pizzeria in Capileira across from the Iglesia de Santa María de la Cabeza.
Other Important Information You Should Know About Capileira
1. Capileira has been Chosen as One of the "Prettiest Villages in Spain"!
Capileira has been chosen by the Association of The Most Beautiful Villages in Spain as one of the most beautiful villages in the Granada province, the other village being its neighbor to the south, Pampaneira.
2. Capileira Fiestas
Night of San Antón - In January Capileira celebrates this fiesta with the lighting of traditional bonfires.
Virgen de la Cabeza - During the last weekend of April the town celebrates in honor of the Virgen de la Cabeza, its patron saint.
Virgen de las Nieves - On August 5, the Virgen de las Nieves is carried from Capileira to Mt Mulhacen.
The Autumn Fair (Feria de Artesanía, Turismo y Agricultura Ecológica) - On October 12th, Pampaneira (2 km away) holds a giant fair, the biggest in the area, where you will find a wonderful assortment of locally made Alupjarra products, including textiles (colorful rugs and blankets), crafts, soaps and candles, jellies and jams, jars of honey, Moorish pastries and more...
The Chestnut Festival (Fiesta de la Mauraca) - On November 1st Capileira holds its famous chestnut festival (which also takes place in neighboring villages). It is celebrated by roasting chestnuts over an open fire and dancing and singing to traditional Alupjarra songs. The roasted chestnuts are later enjoyed with a warm anise-flavored liquor.
3. When to Visit Capileira
Capileira can get quite chilly in the winter months being so high up in the mountains. So, the best time to take advantage of the great outdoor activities is definitely spring and fall.
The months of May and June are ideal for hiking as the entire gorge is in bloom with bright yellow scotch-broom and red poppies.
- During May and October, you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures that fall between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F).
- The hottest season is in June, July, August, and September.
- Capileira has dry periods in June, July, August, and September.
- The warmest month is July with an average maximum temperature of 33°C (91°F).
- The coldest month is January with an average maximum temperature of 12°C (53°F).
- November is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you are not a big fan of rain.
- July is the driest month.
** Typical rustic houses with chimney pots in Capileira.
4. How to Arrive
Capileira is located just 74 kilometers south of the city of Granada and the Granada airport.
- From Granada - Driving south from Granada on the main N-323 highway towards the coast, look for the signs indicating "Las Alpujarras" and "Lanjarón" as you pass over the mountains. Exit the highway and head towards the left (east). Roads will be clearly marked. After passing the town of Lanjarón and just before entering Órgiva, look for the sign indicating directions to Capileira, Pampaneira, and Bubión. Take a left and follow the road straight up into the mountains.
The road is winding and you can't drive fast, from this turn, it should take about 20 to 30 minutes to reach Capileira. It is the third and highest town in the Poqueira Gorge.
- From Malaga - take the N-340 highway east towards Almuñécar, Motril, and Almería. In about an hour after passing Almuñécar and when you reach Salobreña, take highway N-323 towards Granada. Capileira is located only 50 kilometers from Salobreña. As you climb the mountains you will pass a dam and a lake on your left. Look for signs indicating "Las Alpujarras" and "Lanjarón". Exit the highway and head towards the right (east). From here follow the directions noted above from Granada.
- From Almería - take the N-340 highway west towards Málaga and Almuñécar. When you reach Salobreña (before Almuñécar), take highway N-323 towards Granada. Follow the directions noted above.
The largest parking area is the first lot on your left upon entering the town, it's marked with a large blue 'P'. There is a second parking area further up about halfway through the village on your left as well.
6. Capileira - A Brief History...
Capileiras's name comes from the Latin 'capitellum' meaning 'heights' or 'summits'. Today it has over 585 inhabitants.
Although Capileira’s origins date back to the Roman period, its unique architecture and customs were greatly influenced by its later inhabitants, the Moors.
The history of this village is much the same as its two neighbors to the south, Pampaneira and Bubion. When the Catholic monarchs attacked and defeated the Moorish King in Granada in 1492, his people fled from the capital to the mountains of the Alpujarras.
They lived peacefully here in this rustic paradise for over 75 years until the rebellion started in 1568. After years of fighting, they were eventually pushed back into northern Africa in 1609.
Capileira was then repopulated with people from the areas around Galicia. One Moorish family was allowed to remain in each of the three towns to teach the newcomers how to work the land.