Alhama de Granada, Andalucia

Alhama de Granada is situated approximately 50km from the centre of Granada. If looking for a quiet weekend away, or an exceptionally beautiful and traditional place to visit, Alhama should be high on your list. 

Alhama de Granada is a place that has inspired poets and travellers alike throughout the centuries. The romantic traveller Teofilo Gautier summed up its existence as ‘hanging on an enormous rock or peak like an eagle’s nest.’

Alhama de Granada

With a population that oscillates around 6000 people, Alhama has retained its traditional charm and has a very north African feel to it. Wandering around Alhama's carefully preserved Moorish quarter is almost like stepping back in time. 

Alhama de Granada – A Jewel in the Nasrid crown

Perched above a gorge, surrounded by fertile fields and rolling countryside of olive and almond groves, the whole area is a joy to behold. 

Richly steeped in history, with its magnificent and almost impregnable position, Alhama de Granada was considered to be one of the jewels in the Nasrid crown.

Mosque in Alhama de Granada

The name Alhama is derived from the Arabic – al-hammam - meaning thermal baths. Ever since Roman times, the healing properties of the thermal water from Alhama have been recognised and sought after. During the period of the reconquest, Christians paid huge sums of money to take the water here.

The capture of Alhama from the Moors by Christian troops in 1482 came as a mighty blow and signalled the start of the War of Granada, which ended some ten years later with the capture of Granada and the eventual expelling of the Moors from Andalucia.

There is ample evidence to suggest that the Moors had a particular fondness for Alhama. Following the battle that pushed the Moors from the city, Abu Al-Hacen is said to have uttered the words “Ay de mi Alhama!” which remains today, in the Spanish language, as an exclamation of regret.

Things to see and do

The best views to be had of Alhama's impressive Tajo (gorge) are just behind the Iglesia de Carmen. Carved out of the limestone rocks over thousands of years, there are numerous footpaths and places of interest within the Tajo itself.

Upon entering the gorge, you'll find clearly marked footpaths that take you past the ruins of some old flour mills, age-old washing stones and various points of local interest - battle scenes that were fought centuries ago and places of local folklore - including a small chapel that marks the spot where a Christian knight is said to have been miraculously saved from a 150m fall. Most are clearly marked and signposted. 

The river also offers some fantastic pools for swimming in the summer months. 

Hiking Alhama de Granada

If feeling particularly energetic, you can walk through the gorge to the smaller Embalse to de los Bermejales(there are two - see below) - you can follow the track here

The main square just across the road offers some good restaurants and tapas bars. La Seguiriya restaurant is of note. The best tapas are to be found in the nearby Bar Tigres, in the Plaza de la Constitución

The spa of Alhama de Granada is situated a few kilometres outside of the village centre. It is clearly signposted - Balneario. The hotel is open from April to November and provides a range of treatments. The thermal waters come out at 47C and are rich in bicarbonates, magnesium, calcium and sulphates. The properties of the waters have been renowned for hundreds of years. 

Hot pools in Alhama de Granada

An increasingly popular and free option, are the hot pools that run alongside the official spa. The thermal water comes out of a cave and has formed a series of natural pools – each with their own distinct temperature, all gradually leading to the ice-cold river that runs parallel to it. Its a fantastic way to spend a few hours and/or rest after a hike in the gorge. 

When the hotel is open, there is also an outdoor swimming pool that is fed by the thermal waters. Well worth a visit and only costs 6€ for the whole day.

Nearby

If looking to cool off during the hot summer months, the Bermejales lake is only 12km from the centre of Alhama. It offers sandy beaches, safe swimming and a wealth of water sports. The lake is a popular place for local people to meet during the long, hot summer evenings, with people bringing barbecues and camping along its banks. 

Slightly off the beaten track are the beautiful river pools in La Resinera and the start of one Andalucia's most beautiful hikes - along the Rio Cebollón

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