A day trip to the caves of Guadix and the Calahorra Castle
The cathedral town of Guadix is well off the beaten path, in the eastern confines of the Province of Granada, a large, bustling country town with a personality all of its own. Its history dates back to Phoenician and Roman times, and it played a major role in the Reconquest.
The most interesting feature of the Guadix area is that almost half of the inhabitants of this large town live underground, in the southern part of the town, in what is known as cave houses. The jagged ochre terrain and the dazzling whitewashed chimneys and doors of the caves contrast dramatically with the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada, which loom above. The cave district is signposted on the main street of the town as the Barrio Troglodyte.
You can drive through the cave area, but you should also get out and take a stroll. The “troglodytes” are very friendly people and are also very house-proud, or “cave-proud”, as you wish. If you show an interest in their homes, you will be sure to be invited in to have a look. Ever since the Moorish times, the Andalucians have been fond of living underground because it is the best way of escaping the summer heat waves. Most of today’s cave-dwellings are well-appointed, like any other Spanish home, and some are even quite luxurious, with marble floors, fitted kitchens, faxes and internet connections.
In the centre of Guadix, you should not miss the Cathedral, founded in 1594, and the Cave Museum – Plaza de la Ermita Nueva s/n.
The region is famous for its hand-crafted earthenware, which is sold on the roadside in the nearby village of Purullena.
Benalúa de Guadix
The desert landscape around the village of Benalúa de Guadix is especially impressive, and well worth a drive through the region. If you wish to explore this fascinating region more thoroughly, you can drive from Benalúa de Guadix to the Spa called Balneario Alicún de las Torres returning on the first road on the right after leaving the spa, which will take you back to the A92/N342 motorway. The total drive takes between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
La Calahorra Castle
When in Guadix, don't miss the fascinating castle in the village of La Calahorra, just a few miles to the East. This impressive fort was awarded to a Christian knight for his role in the Reconquest, and fitted by him with a gracious and amazing Renaissance courtyard made of Italian marble and by Florentine craftsmen. When studying the history of La Calahorra, please also note the role as intermediary played by the Marqués de Mondéjar, the previous owner of the Cortijo del Marqués!
To get to La Calahorra, leave Guadix in the direction of Almería on the A92. You will soon be treated to the spectacular view of the round towers of the castle framed against the towering Sierra Nevada, which so often features in photographs and posters.