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Thursday, September 26, 2013 (read 512 times)
Guadix in the Sierra Nevada Regionby Matthew
The Sierra Nevada
Guadix is a town located in the Sierra Nevada region of Andalucia, approximately sixty kilometers from the ancient city of Granada. With a relatively small population of about 20,000, it has the features of a great town but the intimacy of a village. The town, birthplace of the South American conqueror Pedro de Mendoza, has one of the richest histories of any settlement on the Iberian Peninsula, having been first founded in Roman times. The town itself sits at about one kilometer above sea level, allowing for a breeze that makes the intense summer heat slightly more bearable.
Julius Caesar named the town Julia Gemela Acci, with the original intention of using the town to mine for silver. It is this original name of the town from where the name of those that live in Guadix originates – Accitanos. The town experienced a period of decline, like much of Spain, under the Visigoths, until it came under Muslim rule from 711, when it was renamed Wadi Ash. It was an important military base under the Muslim ruler Abd al-Rahman III and also a significant site for Christians, especially from 1492 when the Catholic Kings had extended their rule over the whole of Spain and built the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Incarnation. The Cathedral was built on the site of the Mezquita and occupies the highest point of the town. Throughout the eras of the Habsburgs, Bourbons and Napoleonic times, the town went through periods of prosperity and decline.
The town has been well developed for the purposes of tourism. As I’ve already mentioned, the Cathedral dominates the town below it. It was built originally as a Gothic structure but was greatly extended during the Baroque period, which remains its style today. Another must-see is the Alcazaba of Guadix. This fort was built by the Moors in the 1000s. Having been destroyed during the sixteenth century, it was restored to its original standing and in 1931 was given a special protected status. Arguably the most iconic feature of this settlement is the cave houses, which are located predominantly in the Barrio Santiago. Nowadays, many of the caves are used as homes, with the number inhabited standing at about 4,500, and are especially useful during the hot summers when the caves’ cool temperatures offer some respite from the heat.
Cooking is at the heart of life in Guadix, and its food shows off the heritage of diverse cultures that have lived there. Two particular dishes are worth a mention: pepper soup and “tocino de cielo”, a traditional sweet dish made with eggs, syrup and sugar. There are many places to stay in Guadix, from traditional hotels to stays in the caves themselves. The well-reviewed Abentofail Hotel is a popular choice, or if the tranquility of cave life appeals to you then check out the Cuevas de Rolando. All rooms are well appointed and adapted to modern living, so you shouldn’t feel too claustrophobic.
Keywords: sierra nevada,granada,granada spain,andalusia,spanish cooking