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Regions & Cities
From Granada to the Alpujarra Mountains
By Escuela Montalbán
Aug 27, 2003, 06:32

Granada mountains
A visitor to the Alhambra in Granada will see, except perhaps from July to October, an imposing line of snow-topped mountains to the south-east. This is the west end of the Sierra Nevada, which includes mainland Spain's highest peak, Mulhacén (3478m) and many others over 3000m. On the south side of the Sierra Nevada lies one of the oldest, most picturesque crannies of Andalusia, the 70 km-long east-west jumble of valleys called Las Alpujarras. Here, arid hillsides split by deep ravines alternate with oasis-like villages set by rapid streams and surrounded by vegetable gardens, orchards and woodlands.
The Alpujarras are not only a jumping-off point for many Sierra Nevada Routes, but also a fascinating area to walk and visit villages like Pampaneira, Capileira, Bubion or Trevélez. Old paths between these intriguing, old-fashioned villages pass through constantly changing scenery. This area remains a world apart, with a rare sense of timelessness and mystery. Reminders of the Muslim past are ubiquitous in the form of the Berber-style villages and the terracing and irrigation of the land. Travellers who have been to Morocco may notice a resemblance between villages in the Alpujarras and those in Morocco's Atlas mountains, from where the Alpujarra style was introduced in Muslim times by Berber settlers. The huddled white houses seem to clamber over each other in an effort not to slide down the hillsides. Streets to narrow for vehicles ramble between them, decked with flowery balconies.

A fascinating read is "South from Granada" by Gerald Brenan.
Having survived the First World War trenches, Gerald Brenan settled himself down in the Andalusian mountain village of Yegen, taking with him two thousand books and planning to educate himself; he spent over six years there during the next decade and a half.
"South from Granada" is a cross between an ethnography and a travel narrative, in which Brenan describes the customs of the region (he wanders as far as Guadix, Almeria, and Granada), its natural history, its history, and his personal experiences there. The result is ethnographically unsophisticated, but never patronising or insensitive; it is pleasant and entertaining reading.

In "Driving over lemons", Chris Stewart describes his life in a remote mountain farm
in the Alpujarras. At age seventeen he retired as the drummer of Genesis and launched a career as a sheep shearer and travel writer. He transports us into a series of misadventures with an engaging mix of peasant farmers, shepherds and New Age travellers.
"Driving over lemons" is a wonderful account of his Andalusian adventure.

For further information regarding Granada and surroundings, visit the website of
Escuela Montalbán, a Spanish language school located in Granada.

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