Albuñuelas isn’t a village you just happen to drive through. You have to make a point of going there. Much like Niguelas, over the other side of the Valley, it’s set apart from the other villages, with has two main roads leading in to it; one from the north, Conchar and the motorway; and one from the west from the direction of Restabal and Pinos, but no through-road.
Albuñuelas is one of the larger villages with 1330 inhabitants, surrounded by several rivers and in the middle of a lovely sierra, that’s a popular destination for hiking, horseriding and mountain biking – with a number of riding, hiking and adventure businesses, using the well-worn and exceptionally picturesque tracks through the countryside surrounding the village.
The village itself is divided into three areas, or barrios: Alto (upper), Bajo (lower) and Fernán Núñez (locally called La Loma). The lower barrio is hugely historic and has many Arabic influences in its architecture, so most houses are found in tiny narrow streets that transport you back in time to the days before cars polluted the planet!
Most of the village life happens in the ‘newer’ upper part of the village, which was largely rebuilt after the terrible Andalusian earthquake on Christmas Day in 1884 when around 70% of the houses in Albuñuelaswere destroyed. The Moorish built homes were better built and survived, whereas most of the damage was sustained by the newer buildings.
The upper barrio is where you’ll find the school, shops, bank, restaurants and cafes; with the other two barrios being largely residential (but with a few amenities).
Aside from its beautiful countryside, Albuñuelas also has a number of historic sites, including la Fuente del Cañuelo, an archaeological site found 10km from the village, where you might see a strange moon, known as la luz de la Rambla, that walkers say will guide you along the river back to the village.
The village also boasts some beautiful historic buildings, including the Convento de los Misoneros de San Pedro de Alcántara, a 13th century building, now restored and home to la Casa de la Cultura (cultural centre for all sorts of activities, classes and shows etc) and la Ermita de San Sebastián, with its beautiful carved wooden ceiling; la Iglesia de El Salvador that dates back to the 16th century and includes a baroque altar; and la Torre del Tío Bayo, an old Moorish watchtower. Some of the old lavaderos (laundry rooms and stone sinks) are still used by the residents.
Albuñuelas is famous for its handmade cheeses, olive oil and vegetables and local dishes ae the guiso de choto o cabrito, (veal or goat stew); tortillas de collejas; migas, (a dish made with breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil and other ingredients from the kitchen – a popular tapas in the Lecrin Valley) and puchero (traditional stew). There is a lot of honey produced in the area as well and if you can, throw your diet aside and try the delicious pestiños – deep fried dough covered with honey!
- Nuestra Señora de las Angustias. Celebrations start on the 15th with the procession of the Virgen, San Sebastián and la Virgen Niña, with activities going well into the night – as usual including music, dancing, a fair and fireworks.
- Fiesta de San Sebastián, in January
- Día de los Hornazos, in March or April
- Día de la Cruz, in May
- Día de las Roscas and Corpus Christi, in June.
“Albuñuelas is popular with active travellers, due to the many tracks and trails from the village into the countryside – for hiking and mountain biking – and there’s also a really lovely family-run horse trekking company.
The village has everything you need, but maintains an authentic charm about it. People always tell us that they forget all about their busy lives as soon as they arrive, because the feel and pace of Albuñuelas is opposite to their usual environment.
The views from Albuñuelas are also simply stunning. In short, it’s a beautiful village, inside and out!” Danielle Gouwens.