El Valle de Lecrin is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is famous for its verdant landscape of orange and lemon groves, almond and olive trees and fruits of pomegranate and grapes. It commands amazing views up to the snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, down through the lush valley to the turquoise waters of Lake Beznar and to the mountains beyond which run down to the Costa Tropical coastline.
Perfect for enthusiasts of outdoor activities, the area offers fantastic opportunities for walkers, bird watchers, cyclists and skiers in the winter months. With excellent road links, it also makes a great base to explore the beautiful city of Granada and the relatively unspoilt coast of the Costa Tropical.
Travelling south from Granada in the 7th Century the Moors reached a vast, fertile valley encompassed within a bowl of mountains. The land had everything they prized – good earth, free-flowing rivers and the natural fortification of the sierras. Captivated by its beauty, they named it El Valle de Lecrín – which is commonly interpreted by the locals today as “Valley of Happiness”.
According to Wikipedia, Lecrín is derived from Arabic Iqlim, meaning “gateway”: this refers to a small area of land situated between the villages of Mondújar and Talará, which controlled the access to the vast coastal areas of sugar production in Moorish times.
In 1492 when Granada was surrendered to the Catholic monarchs, Isabel and Ferdinand, legend has it that as the royal party moved south towards exile; they reached a rocky prominence which gave a last view of the city. Muhammad XII, also known as Boabdil, reined in his horse and, surveying for the last time the Alhambra and the green valley that spread below, burst into tears. When his mother approached him she said:
“Thou dost weep like a woman for what thou could not defend as a man.”
The spot from which Muhammad XII looked for the last time on Granada is known as “the Moor’s last sigh” (el ultimo suspiro del Moro).
This part of Spain proved the last Moorish bastion before their expulsion after more than 700 years of rule, and it is where the Islamic influences have remained strongest. Most prominent is the acequia system of irrigation channels, bringing snowmelt from the highest mountain peaks down to the farms (cortijos) of the region. Ruined fortresses and Moorish castles dot the landscape with many villages reflecting Moorish architecture as seen in the city of Granada.
Of particular interest and just a 15 minute walk from Casita de la Vaca is the Castillo de Zorayo, built by Muly Hacen for his new wife Zorayo (Isabel de Solis) whom he took with him to live at Mondújar castle when he was expelled from Granada by Boabdil (his son) in 1483. Mondujar is also believed to be the final resting place of the last Nasrid queen, Morayma (Boabdils wife), who was buried here before the royal party were finally expelled from Spain and moved to Fez in Morroco.
The Lecrin valley is split into 8 municipals which are made up of 17 villages or towns:
- El Padul
- El Pinar: Pinos del valle, Ízbor
- El Valle: Melegís, Restábal, Saleres
- Lecrín: Acequias, Chite, Béznar, Mondújar, Murchas, Talara
- Villamena: Cónchar, Cozvijar
Mondujar & Talara
Casita de la Vaca is situated within easy walking distance from the villages of Mondujar and Talara where you will find all local amenities. These include a pharmacy, three mini markets, three banks with cash machines, a post office, two petrol stations, a primary school and an outdoor swimming pool, open during July and August. There are several bars where you can enjoy a drink with free tapas or breakfast of coffee and tostada. For a meal out, there are two restaurants in which you can sample the local specialities.
Due to the Lecrin Valley’s privileged position surrounded by mountains it enjoys its own micro climate, thereby avoiding the extremes of temperature experienced in other inland parts of the Granada province. The average annual temperature is 17 C with a typical summer day averaging 25 C to 30 C (although in the peak summer months of July/August temperatures can rise to 40 C). In the summer a gentle afternoon breeze usually picks up which helps to cool the siesta temperatures.
In autumn the days are still warm but the nights gradually start to get cooler. The locals look forward to the rains that normally arrive in October after a long hot and dry summer. This time of year is often referred to as a “second spring” due to a second burst of growth for crops and wild plants this welcome rain provides.
The winters are crisp and bright with relatively little rain and clear blue skies contrasting sharply with the snow covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There is rarely a frost but you can’t deny the delight on the odd occasion you wake up to a blanket of snow, which sadly has melted away within a few hours.
Spring is most people’s favourite time of year when the valley becomes a riot of colours with pink almond blossom, white orange blossom and wild flowers springing to life. With the heady smell of orange blossom permeating the air, the locals look forward to the warming temperatures and the arrival of longer days and balmy nights.
Click here for the weather forecast in the Lecrin Valley.