Valley of Lecrín, just to the west of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the Granada province of Spain, is a tranquil region of traditional whitewashed villages nestled among gentle mountains. Lecrín is close to the famed Las Alpujarras region, know for its unique, ancient culture that shows strong roots from its Moorish and Morisco past.
Lecrín is located near the Mediterranean coast, the Costa Tropical. Lecrín is close to the city of Granada and close to the primary Costa Tropical towns of Almuñécar, Motril, and Salobreña. It is easily accessible from these larger towns by well maintained paved roads that connect with major highways.
Nerja is near the cities of Malaga, Granada, and Almeria, and is readily accessible from the heart of the Costa Tropical; Almuñécar, Motril, and Salobreña.
- Lecrín is located less than an hour south of the city of Granada and Granada airport. Driving from Granada and down the main N-323 highway towards the coast, look for the signs indicating Lecrín after you pass the large reservoir and dam on the left. Exit the highway and head towards the right (west). Roads will be clearly marked.
- From Malaga, take the N-340 highway east towards Almuñécar, Motril, and Almería. In about an hour after passing Almuñécar and when you reach Salobreña, take highway N-323 clearly marked towards Granada. Lecrín is located only fifteen to twenty minutes from Salobreña. As you climb the mountains look for the signs indicating the exit Lecrín to the left. Exit the highway and head towards the left (east).
- From Almería, take the N-340 highway west towards Málaga and Almuñécar. When you reach Salobreña (before Almuñécar), take highway N-323 clearly marked towards Granada. Follow the directions noted above.
Velle de or Valley of Lecrin means the Valley of Happiness in Arabic, a description of the area coined by the conquering Moors in the 7th Century. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty with clear sunny skies and stunning vistas. It is an area of rolling hills topped with Moorish watch towers, tiny hermitages and dark aromatic pine forests. Its deep ravines, rugged cliffs, and rivers form the backdrop to the soft greens of olive plantations silhouetted against brilliant red hillsides, shimmering green citrus groves and almond trees.
The snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains rise steeply to the east; the sierras of Albuñuelas and Guájaras form the western boundary. To the south, Sierra Lujar guards the pass through to the Mediterranean Sea. In between the rugged mountains, Lecrín lies in a fertile agricultural area, with much of the farming done on ancient narrow terraces inaccessible by automobiles. Mules are still widely used to work the farming plots and local village houses still have cavernous storage rooms on the main floor with ample stable space for mules and dogs.
Valle de Lecrín is comprised of 17 towns and administrative centers including Acequías, Albunuelas, Beznar, Chite, Conchar, Cozvijar, Durcal, El Valle, Lecrín, Melegis, Mondujar, Murchas, Niguelas, Padul, Pinar, Pinos of the Valley, Restabal, Saleres, Tablate, Talara, and Villamena. Many of the villages date from Moorish times, some to the period after the reconquest by the Catholic Monarchs of Granada in 1492. All are white pueblos with narrow winding cobblestone streets, quiet plazas and domed churches. Each town has its own fiestas celebrated with noisy good humor, music and fireworks.
Nigüelas, a pretty village above the Lecrín Valley district towns, is particularly preferred by foreigners who come to enjoy the beautiful vistas and affordable house prices. Of the Lecrín towns Acequías is the highest at 867 metres above sea level. The district descends via Mondujar, Lecrín, Murchas, Chite to Béznar a mere 576 metres above the sea.
In January, the first clouds of pink and white almond blossom appear, later on the orange blossom fills the valley with their perfume and the oranges and lemons shimmer. Spring flowers are abundant, blues and purples compete with the astonishing red of the poppies. Later in the year, yellow broom dominates the hillsides and passing flocks of goats release the scent of wild lavender, thyme and rosemary. Pomegranates, the symbol of Granada, make their exotic debut in August and September.
The area has much to offer the traveler, particularly those interested in walking and trekking. The locals are welcoming and friendly. Throughout the Valle de Lecrín there are signs pointing out the numerous Roman and Arab baths, ruined castles, old olive mills and interesting churches.
Because of its appealing location between Granada and the coast, fertile soil and good climate, the Lecrín region has been inhabited since ancient times. Tartessos, trading partners of the Phoenicians, settled the area in the 7th century BC. Lecrín itself dates at least from Roman times, evidenced by the Roman spa there. It was during the dominion of the Moors in the 12th Century that Lecrín truly flourished. The new Muslim rulers expanded agricultural production, bringing advanced farming techniques from harsher climates and soils. Citrus fruit in particular was cultivated and the oranges and lemons grown in the Lecrín Valley today are still regarded to be of exceptional quality. The expulsion of the Moors in 16th Century left Lecrín short of people and devolved into a long period of decline. Although it was repopulated by Christians from other regions of Spain during the reconquest by the Christian Monarchs, Lecrín suffered another reduction in population in the 19th Century due to epidemics and emigration to other parts of Europe and Latin America.
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