The Alhambra is an incredible blend of cultures resulting in one of the loveliest places I’ve ever seen.
Here are some photos from around the gorgeous city of Granada. Morning light
Moclin to Granada – 15 miles plus a bus ride
Waking up at the church we breakfasted on bread and coffee then walked to a local walking path, Ruta del Golizino, and began a descent to the town of Olivares.
On the the way we met a group of middle school students out for a walk on the path with their teachers. We enthusiastically exchanged Spanish and English phrases then went our separate ways.
Leaving the mountains we hit flat farmland surrounding Granada. Seeing this rich area helped us understand how the Granadian emirate remained independent for another 250 years after the fall of the Muslim capital of Córdoba.
Alcalá la Real to Moclin – 19 miles
Today we thought we’d do a quick visit to the Fortaleza then head on to Moclin.
We started with the main museum in town and toured the rooms with artifacts from Neolithic to medieval times.
The Fortaleza and church are well worth a visit; blending original and reconstructed works with a wide array of presentation techniques to teach the visitor what life was like living in a town on the Christian – Muslim frontier.
Across the Subbeticas 9 miles
Today we left the lovely town of Zuheros and spent the day hiking through the Subbeticas Nature Reserve. All day we heard the sounds of belled goats and smelled thyme and other herbs.
Baena to Zuheros – 8 miles
We stayed a second night in Zuheros and went to a bat cave. Photos forbidden so no record but a good hike and great guide.
We stayed an extra day in Zuheros and visited the bat caves. We just saw two bats but as our guide said “it’s not a zoo and the bats don’t have a schedule”.
Castro Del Rio to Baena – 14.3 miles
For much of the day we followed the Guadajoz River.
Baena, like many of the towns we are passing through, has many layers of civilizations from Neolithic to Iberian to Roman to Visigoth to Moor to present day. There is a wonderful archeological museum showing finds from each era.
If you’d like to learn more about olive processing look here.
Cordoba to Ategua – 16 miles
Leaving Cordoba we crossed the Guadalquivir River by walking across the fortified Roman Bridge.
The site was closed unless you called ahead to make arrangements for a visit but we did see some of the remains from below.
We camped nearby in an olive grove and watched stars the Romans saw. I dreamt of ring wraiths and history.
Who can resist a route with a name like this? We’re landing in Madrid, spending a few days there, then taking a train to Toledo and Cordoba where the walking will start. (I am posting the outline of the trip then will fill in with more photos and details as we go.)
La Ruta del Califato runs from Cordoba to Granada and is also known as the Camino Mozarabe de Santiago. It is a path that “en definitiva, que nos hará, sin duda, un poco más sabios” (a road that will make us without doubt, a little wiser).
In January the average temperature is predicted to be around 60 during the day and 38 at night. We may do some camping but are aiming to stay in town most evenings.
- Day one: Cordoba to Castro del Rio – 39 km.
Cordoba was founded in 152 BC by the Romans who made it the capitol of Hispania. The famous philosopher Seneca is from this city. Conquered by the Muslims in the 8th century they made it the capitol of their Islamic Emirate and it became a center for learning. The city was captured by King Ferdinand III in 1236 and has been under Spanish rule since.
Castro del Rio is an ancient town on the banks of the Guadajoz river.
- Day two: Castro del Rio to Baena – 20 km.
Baena is on the Marbella river and is renowned for olive oil and linens. It too was a Roman then Muslim city captured by King Ferdinand. It was on the historic border with the Muslim kingdom of Granada and is famous for its old town and castle.
- Day three: Baena to Alcaudete – 24.6 km.
- Day four: Alcaudete to Alcala Real – 23.7 km.
Alcala Real is thought to be one of the last places lived in by Neanderthal man. It was also a Roman city and ruled by Muslims. Watchtowers were built against Normans and Vikings. During the Napoleonic Peninsular War in the early 1800’s the upper city was burned. (Setting of part of the Netflix series Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.)
- Day five: Alcala Real to Moclin – 21 km.
Moclin was the site of a famous battle between Muslims and Christians in 1280.
- Day six: Moclin to Pinos Puenta – 16 km.
Pinos Puenta is the home of the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca: “Three hundred dark roses stain your white shirtfront”.
The town is also well known for dishes such as migas, gazpacho, bean stews and noodle casseroles or fideos a la cazuela (even “noodle casserole” sounds more delicious in Spanish).
- Day seven: Pinos Puenta to Granada – 19 km.
Granada is home to the Alhambra and will get its very own post.
Alfred and I are heading to Spain mid-January. Leo, our elderly dog, is holding down the fort and sleeping in front of the fire.
Our plan is to fly into Madrid then take a train to Toledo then Cordoba. Once there we start walking along the Route of the Caliphate until we get to Granada. After Granada it’s a bus to Tarifa, the southernmost point of Spain, where we pick up the E4 trail and the walk really starts.
The E4 is one of the longest walking paths in Europe and covers almost 10,000 km total. The portion in Spain is known as the Gran Recorrido 7 or GR7. This route is 1,900 km, (1,180 miles), long and runs from the southern tip of Spain, Tarifa, to the Pyrenees on the border with France. We are still debating whether to take the southern or northern portion; the southern portion is supposed to be more interesting but it’s also higher and we may run into snow.
Alfred would like to summit Mulhacen, Spain’s highest peak; we’ll see if I go with him or not on that particular adventure!
Our plan is to do a combination of camping and staying in small hotels. We’re going to go as light as possible with gear; I’m just bringing my iPhone for photos and we’re downloading maps on our phones.
More on this soon, in the meantime back to studying Spanish with Duolingo!