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Órgiva - the capital of the Alpujarra de Granada

Origins and history of Órgiva

Órgiva, originally seems to have been an Iberian-Roman colony or settlement and it has been identified as the Greek colony of Exoche, mentioned by the geographer Ptolomeo.

The first written reference of this town appear in the writings of Al-Idrisi (12th century), with the name "Hisn Orgiva", castle of the territorial division of Elvira.

From 1347 during the reign of the emir from Granada Yusuf I, Orgiva was shaped as the head of the Nazari Taha with its name, with four neighbourhoods separated among them: Albacete, Micela or Necila, Almizda and Tixola. In 1374 it is repeatedly cited by Ibn al-Jatib as "plaza fuerte"(Strong Square). During the Nazari reign it took the name of Al-basath, which means "flat" and for several centuries it was called Albacete de Orgiva.
In 1488 the territory of Orgiva was handed over by the Catholic Monarchs to the Christianized sons of Abu al-Hassan 'Ali ben Saad, known as Nuley Hacen. As a result of the conquest of Granada, in 1492, the Taha of Orgiva and the Alpujarra were transfered to the last Nazari emir in Granada, Abu Abd Allah Mhammad b.Ali, called Boabdil.


The Catholic Monarchs by Charter of Mercy from September 26th 1499 gave the dominion of Orgiva, with land and taxes, to Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, the Great Capitan, First Duke of Sessa, by the meritorious services he rendered to the Crown during the wars of Granada and La Alpujarra.

During the Moorish rebellion (1568-71) the population suffered the siege of its fortified tower, heroic resistance managed by the governor of Orxiva, Gaspar de Sarabia, against Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Abbu, called Aben Aboo. The Third Duke of Sessa, grandson of the Great Capitan, and the Marquis of Mondejar, Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, took active part in recovery of the Crown Square(plaza de la Corona).

After 1515 the dominion of Orgiva was succesively possessed by its rightful heirs: Elvira Fernandez de Cordoba, daughter of the Great Capitan and the second Duchess of Sessa; Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, Third Duke of Sessa and grandson of the Great Capitan; Luis Fernandez de Cordova, Lord of La Zubia and Alhendin; Juan Fernandez de Cordova, son of Luis, who erected a cross in the atrium of the Church; Antonio Fernandez de Cordova, Marquis of Balencuela and Lord of Busquistar...and the Counts of Sastago from Aragon who transferred thedominion at the end of the 18th century.

By Royal Order from August 24th 1839, signed in Aranjuez by Queen Elizabeth II, it became the capital of the judicial party with its name, ending this way with the Royal Orders which somethimes granted the capital status of these parties either to Lanjaron, which got it first, or to Orgiva, whis got it later. The expected aggregation to this party of the villages of the Taha de Pitres, which belonged to Albunol, made it possible for Orgiva to claim for being the central province and consequently, the Court of First Instance forever.

And by Royal Decree on July 15th 1901, signed by Qeen Maria Christina de Habsburgo-Lorena, it is granted the status of town, being Government Minister Segismundo MoretPrendergast, Head of theLiberal Party.

Points of Interest in Orgiva city

Castle of the Counts of Sástago

Built by the heirs of the Great Capitan in 16th and 17th centuries, it has a special Arabic architectural style. It was a castle or tower where the governor and the Christians in Orgiva took refuge when the Moorish rebellion took place, defending themselves with such a determination that it was the only tower that was preserved in whole Alpujarra area.
It was used as bastion and defence to the Christian people who governed in this jail and as the headquarters of the Christian army. There, Captain Molina suffered the strongest attacks on the part of General Aben-Aboo.
The new tower we know today was defended by the major of Orgiva Gaspar de Sarabia, being part of the palace of Sastago.
The tower ending in 26 battlements is specially preserved, a beautiful four slopes roof, covered by Arabic ceramics. It perfectly combines four historic moments.
The first and the oldest, is the Arabic one, from which we have many samples in the tower and which combines the local stone with brick fasade
The second one is really Christian and they stopped using stone in favour of brick
In a third period, durind the last Century, an adaptation of the tower is made and a roof is placed in order to use the terrace roof as a drying shed
And nowadays, already restored, a new section is added, which is used as Town Hall.

Church of Our Lady of Expectation

It was build at the beginning of the year 1500 on an old Moorish moisque and Catholic cemetery. It was burnd and destroyed by the Moorish in 1568. It started to be rebuild with great sumptuousness by the masters Cristobal Canavate and Mateo Molina in 1580.
The temple has three naves and a central semi-spherical dome on pendentives. In the 18th century the impressive twin towers were erected, which flank the main fasade with very sharp slate spires, octagonal ground plan and a great aesthetics, symbolic and town planning beuty.
The church has very beautiful polychrome sculptures from the school of Granada from the 17th century, excellent "divine portraits" from Jose Risueno, the brilliant discipline from the artist from Granada Alonso Cano, works of art studied by professor Emilio Orozco.
The church is of Renaissance style and Greco-Roman type, with half barrel vaults and semicircular arches. The altarpiece in the Main Altar belongs to Charriguera Baroque style, it has two Salomonic columns with twisted shafts and leaves arnaments, with classically complex capitals.
The Saint Expiring Christ (Santisimo Cristo de la Expiracion)is worshiped in the church; it is a sculpture carved in cedar wood from the school of Juan Martinez Montanes.

Fiestas of Órgiva city

  • San Sebastián: second half in January
  • Carnaval: second half in February
  • Cristo de la Expiración: 27th March
  • Hecho en la Alpujarra: 9th - 12th Aprill
  • Fiesta de la Virgen de la Fe: las Sunday in May
  • Fiesta de San Miguel: 2nd - 4th October
  • Jornadas interculturales: 6th - 8th December


Recommended accommodation


Traditional gastronomy

based on home-grown produce we can highlight:

  • pimenton de bacalao (pepper with cod)
  • migas (fried breadcrumbs)
  • choto al ajillo (calf cooked in garlic)
  • puchero de hinojos (stew with fennel)

Location of Orgiva on the map