Alhama de Granada is the main nucleus of the western part of the province of Granada, its municipal area extends throughout 434 km2, distance from Granada capital 54 km, 75 km from Málaga and 49 km from the Costa del Sol. Its city rises 883 meters above sea level. It has about 6000 inhabitants, being its most important urban nucleus, besides the city of Alhama de Granada, Ventas de Zafarraya with 1000 inhabitants, Pilas de Algaida with 200, and Buenavista with 30.
Although of soft orography, it has interesting relief forms, such as Sierra de Tejeda, located to the south-southwest, numerous aquifers flow from it and reach its highest levels in El Selladero and La Maroma (2065 m), the maximum height of many mountain ranges they surround the municipality. Sierra de Almijara, located to the south of the municipality in an extension with the Sierra Tejeda, constitute the watershed between the South Basin and the Guadalquivir Basin, in addition to the boundary between the provinces of Granada and Málaga. Both, Sierra Almijara and Sierra Tejeda, make up the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park, of great genetic, ecological and landscape value.
Other mountainous units of smaller entity are the Sierra de Júrtiga, to the southwest of the urban nucleus, of karstic morphology and very stony, lodges a vegetation formed mainly by encinar and in her they emphasize levels like La Torrecilla (1,321 m) and the Llano de Júrtiga (1,100 m). Sierra Gorda, northwest of the municipality, karst morphology, extends through the municipalities of Loja and Alhama de Granada.
Other secondary units of importance within the municipality are the Tajos of the Cacín River, located east-northeast of Alhama de Granada, forming an imposing canyon cut to lead with slopes of around 100 m.
The Tajos of Alhama, to the east and next to the urban nucleus, also form a place in the shape of a canyon with great slopes cut to lead and a great scenic beauty.
The most important rivers that cross Alhama de Granada, are the Stream of the Mother, southwest of the urban core, its flow infiltrates near Zafarraya, in the area known as Los Sumideros, forming authentic underground lakes; the Alhama River or Marchán River, bordering the population nucleus, in its route counts on numerous natural pools suitable for the summer bath; the Baths of Alhama, to the north of the urban nucleus, is a thermal spring with a flow of 200 l/s, and with a temperature of exit of 42 °C, next to them the Spa of Alhama is located; finally, the dam of the Alhama River, to the southeast, is an important lagoon that acts as a biotope for many species. From here the transfer of water from the Alhama River to the Bermejales reservoir is carried out by means of a tunnel.
Alhama de Granada has been a populated place since prehistory. Taking advantage of the healing powers of its waters, the Romans and later the Arabs made it an important enclave. Of its first settlers, the Neolithic remains stand out on the margins of the Marchán River, in the vicinity of the historic center, next to the thermal baths.
Other archaeological findings are those found in the farmhouses of "El Navazo" and "El Chopillo" about ten kilometers from the city and those found in the Cave of the Water, occupied from the Neolithic to the Roman era, in which they have found different human burials, utensils and tools, such as stone mills; in the Cave of the Woman we find important findings of archaeological materials, corresponding to an epoch comprised between 3500 and 1500 B.C. and in the Cave of the Mills, important archaeological remains were discovered, such as ceramic pieces, flint knives, polished axes, calcite bracelets and Neolithic human remains. Roman historians speak of the existence of an Iberian city populated by the town of the Túrdulos.
Alhama de Granada lived its moments of greatest splendor in the long Arab period, from which most of its old quarter dates, with narrow and narrow streets that give rise to picturesque corners that combine Arab customs with Castilian forms. This long period served to transform it even in its toponymy, going from being called "Artigi" to "Al-Hamma", which in Arabic means warm source or hot springs. Already in the dawn of the Arab conquest during the 8th century, in the city and in the surrounding farmsteads, a population of Syrian origin settled, forming the aristocracy of the region. It also played a decisive role in the end of the Reconquista, as it was with his capture by the Christians when the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada began, becoming for some years on a Castilian island in the territory of the Nazari Kingdom. Later, it was configured as a medium-sized city with an organizational structure and manor similar to that of large cities, combining two models of urbanism: the city acropolis, located on the block, and the agricultural and commercial city that since the sixteenth century it extends beyond the walled enclosure for space needs, as the population increases. In this way abundant noble houses were built, of which several of them are still preserved; as well as new buildings, such as the Prision, the Deposit, the House of the Inquisition or the Church of the Encarnación.
The presence of numerous buildings with heraldic shields in the historical center of the city, makes clear the importance that it acquired for the Crown of Castile, when gathering the establishment of numerous religious, nobles and nobles in it, after the return to Christian hands.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the city extends to extrawalls modifying its appearance and constituting itself as an example of a convent city and a reformist one. Later, in the early nineteenth century, the city faced the Napoleonic invasion and from a literary and cultural perspective was rediscovered during Romanticism by writers and travelers, mainly British.
In 1884 it was affected by an earthquake after which there was a significant loss of population and destruction of various architectural elements such as manor houses. To alleviate this disaster, a new quadrangular neighborhood known as La Joya was created. In 1885 the city suffered again with an epidemic of cholera. Finally, during the second half of the 20th century, emigration entailed a loss of its population.
The town is an obligatory point of passage in two of the routes of the Andalusian legacy: the route of Ibn Battuta and, that of the North American writer, the route of Washington Irving.
The rich architectural heritage of Alhama de Granada invites you to take a cultural route through the city.
Arab Quarter: Located in the old part of the city, typical forms of Muslim urbanism stand out, with intricate corners, streets and squares.
Silos and dungeons: Of Arab origin, are some cavities made in the circular base rock that were intended, in the Nasrid period, both grain silos and dungeons in some cases, are near the underground gallery that connected the river with the interior of the fortress, totally blinded at present.
Deposit: Located in the Square of the Prisioners (old Main Square), it was initially a synagogue, towards the 13th century, later becoming a deposit. It was one of the most outstanding places of the city in medieval times. Its masonry façade stands out as well as the frank stone columns, inside.
Castle of Alhama de Granada: Of Arab origin, it was rebuilt in the 19th century. It is located on the Paseo Montes Jovellar, where the former Door of Málaga stood, the only access to the walled urban area.
Church of the Encarnación: It is the only Gothic temple of what was the Kingdom of Granada, distributed in a single nave covered by stellated rib vaults and external buttresses. Its execution began, between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th. It rises over a mosque, the ashlars that formed the structure of the mosque can still be distinguished in the south facade. Externally, it highlights the bell tower on the rest of buildings of the city. In its structure, different styles are mixed, such as the Renaissance elements that form the choir and the upper body of the tower or the detail of the southern facade, in front of the original, whose lines show the Gothic influence. Inside there is an artistic heritage made up of different pieces, such as a set of ternos from the 16th century, the embroideries for the liturgy made by Queen Isabella the Catholic, as well as the canvases of "The Descent from the Cross" and the "Christ without face", and a 16th century organ.
Hospital of the Queen: It was the first blood hospital in the Kingdom of Granada, construction began, around 1485, in the middle of the war between Arabs and Christians, concluding about twenty-five years later. It was soon remodeled, around 1540, it is from this time the main remains preserved today. Its Renaissance artistic expression responds to a program of palatial character centered around a porticoed courtyard.
Church of El Carmen: Located next to the old Door of Málaga, today in the very heart of the town, construction began in the mid-sixteenth century. It combines in its architecture, Mannerist and Baroque characteristics. Rectangular plan, the ceilings and side chapels are made of wood, while the dome that rises above the transept is decorated with frescoes. Behind the main altar, two Churrigueresque works stand out: the Dressing Room of the Virgin and the Chapel of Jesus the Nazarene, completed at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1979, magnificent rehabilitation works took place. From the viewpoint behind the church, one of the best views over the Tajo of the Alhama River is overlooked.
Convent of San Diego: Located in the upper part of the city of Alhama de Granada, it was built on the old Hermitage of the Virgin of the Head, combining Renaissance and Baroque styles. Throughout the twentieth century it has been a center for various uses, including barracks, pilgrim lodgings and a penitentiary center.
Church of Las Angustias: It was the first temple concluded in the Kingdom of Granada. Probably, it was dedicated to another dedication. Destroyed during the civil war, it is in a state of ruin.
House of the Inquisition: Its facade was destroyed in the fifties and again rebuilt with great similarity. It is an excellent example of Elizabethan Gothic. Its cover rises under a beautiful arch that, in turn, is framed by another.
Church of Los Remedios: Built in the mid-seventeenth century by an Augustinian prior who spent the summer in the spas. Currently, only its facade is conserved, which reflects the beauty it must have had in its time.
Prison: Although the inscription of its facade indicates that it is from the time of Carlos III, its construction is of the previous century, having formed a large building together with what were the old Town Halls.
Aqueduct on the Alhama River: It was actually built in the sixteenth century, as indicated on one of its sides.
Caño Wamba: It was built in the sixteenth century, it is observed the coats of arms of the Catholic Monarchs and his son, king Carlos I.
Roman House: Located on High Church Street, this name comes because it was built on what had to be a Roman villa, its last construction dates from the XVIII. It is in a state of ruin.
Pile of the Race: The two adjacent circular pylons are joined by a cubic pillar of Neolithic taste.
Green Cross: It rises between the Church of El Carmen and the Municipal Library, on the same wall of the block, remembering the place where the executed died.
Blazons: Being Alhama of Granada land where they were born, resided and died people of high lineage or that stood out in the different periods, there are many blazons that can be contemplated by the different places of the city.
Sima Enríquez: It has a large room at the entrance, and interesting interior spaces, in which prehistoric burials have been found as well as the image of the Virgin of Dona, in the fifteenth century.
Inscriptions: They date from different periods, especially Roman times, mainly those inscribed on tombstones dedicated to the deceased.
Roman bridge: It is from the 1st century B.C., is located about a hundred meters from the new bridge of the Spa, consists of a single arch and was a necessary step to reach the city until the early twentieth century.
Fortifications: Of the famous fortifications that existed in Alhama de Granada and its surroundings, there are still some important remnants of watchtowers in the surroundings of the city, highlighting that of Torresolana.
Spas: Located north of the town. For thousands of years, these hot springs have had medicinal use. The first to discover it were the prehistoric settlers who inhabited the Cave of the Woman and the Cave of Water, in the vicinity of these. The Romans exploited and upgraded the facilities, proof of this is that the pool in which the water has been collected to this day, which is of Roman construction. In addition, the Roman bridge is still preserved. However, it was the Arabs who created next to the spring a magnificent place of rest and cure, with great apogee towards the year 1100, time in which the arcade of the pool or thermal spring was built that is still preserved and with high value historical-artistic. These are arches in the Caliphal style and vaults with chandeliers through which the sun rays penetrate and give unusual shades to the water at every moment of the day. In the last century when they reached a great height, becoming one of the most important in Andalusia. Nowadays it is an ideal place, very pleasant for its climate, for the treatment of rheumatic diseases and as a resting place, surrounded by lush trees and gardens. Its thermal waters are born at 47 °C with an abundant flow and various indications, among which are sub-acute and chronic rheumatism, gout, obesity, neuritis, sciatica, traumatic consequences, chronic bronchitis, essential and symptomatic asthma, etc.
Regarding the landscape of its surroundings, both the city and the surroundings, impress by their unusual views. The population is hanging on an immense pit, through whose bottom the waters of the Marchán River run. With hanging houses that remind us of the city of Cuenca. An authentic and beautiful canyon, it rises on the bed of the river for more than two kilometers, at its base different green tones correspond to the orchards, avenues and wild vegetation.
The city of Alhama de Granada gives us the opportunity to visit different places in which to enjoy rural tourism. According to the area in which we situate ourselves we will find some places or others.
Located in the Sierra Tejeda, there are places such as El Robledal Alto, El Robledal Bajo, Los Barrancones, Los Nacimientos, La Maroma, El Corral de Martín and El Barranco de Mal Infierno. There is a large number of trails and paths that run throughout the mountains. In Sierra Tejeda you will find Las Chorreras where you can climb.
Destacable is also the Tajo of Espantaperros with a large gap, located on the border with the municipality of Salar, you can practice the descent of canyons with activities of climbing, abseiling, caving and bathing in pools.
The lower part of the Tajos of the Alhama River, which gives access to the Spa, allows the practice of canyoning and route through the river.
In the Llano of Dona it is practiced flight in ultralights.
Other places of interest in the municipality are those called Sima of the Carburero, Sima of the Rabit, Sima of the Oxen, Sima of the Grajas, Sima Rica and Sima of the Maquilla; located in the Sierra de Loja. They are places where spelunking can be practiced.
La Candelaria: It is celebrated on 2nd of February and there bonfires are lit and activities are carried out around them, dances and cantes, etc.
Carnivals: They take place in February. They highlight the carnival Tuesday, festive in the town, and, above all, Piñata Sunday. It is one of the best and most original carnivals of all Andalusia.
Friday of Dolores: With the departure in procession of the Virgin of the Angustias, patron saint of the city of Alhama.
Feast of San Marcos: On 25th of April, it is celebrated in the Caños of Las Alcaicerías with countryside food and, with it, many activities for fun.
Fair of San Juan: Celebrated the last weekend of June with diverse activities and popular verbena.
Cultural Week: The first week of August takes place the cultural week, in which numerous activities are celebrated and among them the closing with the Evening "Alhama, City of the Romances".
Festival of the Song of Alhama: Celebrated the first fortnight of August, he is the dean of his class in Spain, since 1966.
Pilgrimage of the Wine: Its celebration takes place in the month of August in a beautiful place next to the Alhama River, it offers the typical dish of Alhama de Granada, the "Olla Jameña" and wine from the land for all the attendees, with entertainment of music and dances.
Big Fair: In September, with all kinds of activities and attractions, with morning fair, fairgrounds, performances, cultural and sports events, and its Literary Contest that annually calls the Municipal Library "Inocente García Carrillo", with four decades of history uninterrupted.
In Alhama de Granada, the Jameña Pot and the wine from the land of artisan elaboration stand out. Of great renown in Andalusia is the confectionery of the Clarisas nuns, with their specialties of bacon of sky, roscos and pastas. Also famous are the anise roscos, typical of Christmas; the borrachuelos, in Holy Week; the Roman bread, made with flour and eggs; the roscos of alfajor, with flour and almonds; and the sweet "milhojas".