Sierra Nevada mountains Spain
1 The Route to Pico de Veleta
The Route to Pico de Veleta
Reaching 3, 428 meters, the Pico de Veleta Mountain is the second-highest peak in the Sierra Nevada range after the Cerro de Mulhacén Mountain, which soars to 3, 481 meters. The road to the Pico de Veleta is an enchanting trip into the glorious mountain world of the Sierra Nevada. The journey begins at an elevation of 640 meters at Vega de Granada and climbs at a continuous ascent to 3, 392 meters, nearly to the peak of Pico de Veleta, making it one of Europe's highest mountain roads. The route follows a paved road and can be made by bus or by car.
This 35-kilometer journey is best begun in the early morning to avoid driving in the direct sun. A striking feature of the route is the contrast between the lush southern landscape of the Vega de Granada and the snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Warm clothing is advised because of wind and cold temperatures at the top.
2 The Moorish Charm of Capileira
The Moorish Charm of Capileira
In the wild mountainous region of Las Alpujarras, the village of Capileira stands at 1, 436 meters just 37 kilometers from the Pico de Veleta. To arrive here from the Pico de Veleta Mountain, take the narrow road that winds up first around the summit and then descends in hairpin bends to the village. Capileira is the highest and most remote of the three whitewashed villages in the Poqueira Gorge, an area of beautiful rugged scenery. Built into a hillside, the village has narrow, twisting streets and many freshwater springs running through the town. From almost every spot in the village, the views are exceptional. The village is a good base for nature walks and hikes in the gorge as well as up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Capileira was originally under Moorish rule, but the village was conquered by the Christians in the early 16th century. The Catholic Monarchs created the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Cabeza on the site of a former mosque. The current Mudéjar-style building was renovated in the 18th century. Capileira has an interesting museum, the Museo Etnológico Pedro Antonio Alarcón (on Calle Mentidero) with a collection of local crafts and costumes as well as an exhibition on the 19th-century Spanish author Alarcón. The best hotel in Capileira is Finca Los Llanos, with its spectacular views and swimming pool.
3 Pampaneira: A Whitewashed Alpujarras Village
Pampaneira is a typical Moorish whitewashed village of Las Alpujarras, with a rich cultural heritage. The small village of 300 residents sits on the steep slopes of a scenic river gorge, the Barranco de Poqueira (Poqueira Gorge), along with the other whitewashed villages of Bubión and Capileira. Pampaneira is the lowest elevated of the three villages, resting in the foothills at 1, 000 meters. The village has been well preserved with its narrow streets and alleyways, peaceful squares, and traditional houses. At the center of the village is a lovely square graced by the Iglesia de Santa Cruz, a 16th-century Mudéjar church with a wood-panel ceiling and gilded altarpiece from the 17th and 18th centuries. The town square also has several cafés and artisan craft shops.
In the peaceful landscape surrounding Pampaneira is the O Sel Ling Buddhist Monastery. Fittingly placed in this remote environment, the monastery is devoted to the Buddhist values of meditation and seclusion.
4 Picturesque Mountain Scenery in Berchules
This picturesque mountain village is perched on a hillside at an altitude of 1, 320 meters, overlooking the dramatic gorge of the Guadalfeo River. In the background, the Sierra Nevada Mountain range offers striking scenery. The name of the village comes from the Arabic word "vergel" meaning pasture, and the area still has lush green pastures where goats, sheep, and cattle graze. Cow bells are heard as the animals move about, and the chirping of little birds is another familiar sound. The countryside also encompasses fertile farmland of cherry, apple, and peach orchards; fields of tomatoes, strawberries, and raspberries; and ancient chestnut trees. Berchules is a great place for an outdoorsy vacation of hiking, biking, nature walks, and horseback riding. For a pleasant scenic walk, take the path lined by mulberry trees that leads to an old Moorish arch. This is a popular spot for picnics on sunny days.