Location, scenery and climate
Las Alpujarras and its location in Spain
Las Alpujarras is a region situated in the South of Spain, looking out across the Mediterranean towards the Rif Mountains of North Africa. It’s a magical collection of villages nestled into the Southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains spread across Andalusian provinces of Granada and Almería.
This part of Spain proved the last Moorish bastion before their expulsion after more than 700 years of rule, and it is where the Islamic influences have remained strongest. Most prominent is the acequia system of irrigation channels, bringing snowmelt from the highest mountain peaks down to the farms (cortijos) of the region. Fruit of the Moors’ genius in the handling of water, as can be seen in the Generalife gardens of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, the acequia channels are still in use throughout the Alpujarra to this day.
Las Alpujarras consists of two parts:
- Western Alpujarra(La Alpujarra de Granada) in the province of Granada
- Eastern Alpujarra(La Alpujarra de Almeria) in the province of Almeria.
Both form part of the National and Natural Parks of Sierra Nevada. In the district of Tolima, in Columbia, South America, there is also a place bearing the name La Alpujarra, which must have originally been a settlement of immigrants from this area.
The Alpujarras boast uniquely breathtaking scenery owing to the differences in altitude to be found across the region, from the highest summit of Mulhacén at 3,478m, descending via a myriad of valleys and steep-sided ravines, dotted with the traditional whitewashed Alpujarran villages down to sea level on the Mediterranean coastline.
These topographic contrasts heighten the range of colours to be seen in each season and the variety of trees and flora growing at each level.
The geographical position of the Alpujarras has also helped to preserve the individuality of the architecture of its villages as well as the way of life, traditions and customs of its inhabitants.
Just as the scenery, flora and fauna vary according to altitude, so does the climate, making the region a sort of world in miniature, such are its range and variety.
On the coast it is mild and temperate, almost tropical. By contrast, the High Alpujarra, known as the Alpujarra Alta or Alpujarra de la Sierra, has colder snowy winters, with bracing winds and torrential storms followed by long periods of dry sunny weather, the dazzling rays ricocheting off the snowy peaks of the Sierra. Perfect weather for curing the mountain ham that is so prized by both locals and visitors.