The Sierra Nevada teems with wildlife. Ibex share their habitat with wild boar and wildcats whilst in the air, owls, sparrow hawks and eagles soar. Further down, in the Alpujarras, squirrels, badgers, foxes, lizards and turtles are to be found and all manner of birds including robins, chaffinches, woodpeckers, wood pigeons and the hoopoe. In the rivers are trout and salmon.
Trevélez is famous for its ham and thousands of pigs’ legs are hung in drying sheds to produce large hams up to 10kg in weight. The dry and cold climate of the area is perfect for the production of Jamón Serrano. Trevélez is on the same slope as Mulhacén, which with a height of 3481 metres is the highest mountain in mainland Spain.
The Town Square or ‘Plaza de la Constitución’ is really rather splendid. On one side is the former residence of the Duke of Alba. There are many mansions in this ancient town. In bygone days, a number of Castilian noblemen lived here. They not only owned these large houses but between them most of the surrounding land as well. Today, these houses are still privately owned. Many of them have attractive red façades.
Gérgal is a pleasant little town that stands on the banks of the river of the same name. Visitors can spend an enjoyable hour strolling the streets lined with the whitewashed buildings typical of Andalucía. Bougainvillea cascades lovingly down the sides of some of the buildings which are a mixture of early traditional and houses built in the 19th century, during the prosperous mining days. A castle stands prominent at the top of a hill. It was built on the ruins of a medieval fortress in the 17th century but it is now a private dwelling.
This part of Spain has always had an abundance of raw materials and this area of the Cabo de Gata has been extensively mined for 2000 years. The Romans extracted silver here. Later ‘lead fever’ took hold in the middle of the 19th century. However, the golden years for Rodalquilar followed the discovery of gold around 1880.
Enix is a typical pueblo blanco. Often, old men with flat caps and walking sticks sit on the benches in the town square busily chatting and watching the world go by. Dogs laze in the doorways of the white houses. Just beyond the town centre, pine and eucalyptus trees border the road.
The Torre del Oro is a 13th-century Moorish watchtower. There are varying opinions as to how it this dodecahedral tower got its name. Some say that the tower was originally adorned with gold leaf; others say that it was used as a warehouse to store gold from the New World expeditions. Perhaps a simpler explanation is that it is golden in colour!
Alboloduy nestles at the foot of a mountain with orchards of citrus, grape and olive spread out across the valley below. A lovely looking church stands prominent amidst the little white houses of Arabic origin that tumble down the hillside. The town is situated in the Sierra Nevada Natural Park.