As a continuation of the theme of Spain, I would like to tell you about the town of Guadix.
Guadix is one of the most ancient Spanish cities, the capital of the Guadix Region of the province of Granada, situated on the northern slope of the Sierra Nevada, 915 metres above sea level. It has a population of just over 20,000 inhabitants. Guadix was the birthplace of the famous conquistador Pedro de Mendoza, who founded the colony at the mouth of La Plata in 1536 which is now the capital of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Attractions in Guadix
Tourists are attracted to Guadix by its “cave houses” – houses that were made underground so that the temperature in the house remained comfortable all year round. Guadix is sometimes referred to as the “cave capital of Europe” as there are approximately 2000 houses spread over 200 hectares.
According to historical records, the first houses underground were built in Guadix in 1452 during the invasion of Granada by the Catholics. The soft material of the hills allowed the Moors to dig small rooms where they could hide from the enemy without leaving the city. The “rooms” then grew and gradually became full-fledged underground houses. Some wealthy Spaniards still buy ‘caves’ in Guadix.
The town also has its own X-XI century Alcazaba, but unlike the Alcazaba of Almeria, you cannot enter it, but can only view it from afar.
A day trip to Guadix
We arrived in the town on Sunday morning by train from Almeria. We got off at the Guadix train station and headed into town. The goal was to see the underground houses, the plaza and take a ride on the tourist train.
The first monument on the way was that of Maria Auxiliadora, one of Granada’s patron saints. An entire street in Guadix is named after this saint.
The streets are clean and green. Some time has passed … What I have seen in the pictures on the internet is nowhere near there. Just as there are no people at all. Finally, near one house we saw a man fixing his car. We asked him if we were going the right way to the centre and the cathedral. He looked at us with great surprise and told us that it was still quite a long way to the town by road.
We can’t be intimidated by long walks, so, having got the right direction, we move on. Along the way there are fruit trees lined with fruit – pears, figs.
And finally on the horizon we see the dome of the cathedral and the mountains. Beautiful!
Surprisingly, on the approach to the centre there is a supermarket, which is working. We are in for a pleasant shock – the shop is open on a Sunday in Andalusia. We bought a hot loaf and cheese which we ate immediately.
Plaza de la Catedral
Here we are at last in the main square of the city of Guadix, in its historical centre – Plaza de la Catedral, also called Plaza de las Palomas (pigeon square). Here there is a school of arts and crafts, a palace and a tourist office, where we were immediately “caught” by the office worker. He told us about the tourist train and sent us off to buy tickets.
The train ride lasts for 1 hour. In the “cave” area there is a half hour stop for taking pictures and having a walk.
The train leaves from the square in front of the cathedral.
Train schedule: 10.30-13.30.
The ticket costs €6 for adults and €3 for children. The ticket also includes a visit to a shop of traditional products of the province of Granada with a tasting. The shop is located here on the square.
Within minutes the train was full – all Spanish-speaking. Two carriages were occupied by Spanish grandparents who came as part of an organised group. They were talking (as Spaniards always do – very loudly and emotionally), so much so that they shouted down the excursion in the tram.
The cave area in Guadix
The train rides through the streets of the town, finally we enter the “cave district” and the first white cave houses are shown.
The train stops at the entrance of the 16th century “cave” church. We get off and go to see the houses – the caves.
There is a special museum-cave of the traditions of the people of Guadix (Cueva-museo de costumbres populares de Guadix). The building of the museum dates back to the 16th century.
Museum opening hours:
- Monday-Saturday – 10.00-18.00; break 14.00-16.00
- Sunday – 10.00-14.00
Entry fee €2.60; children free of charge.
We didn’t go to the museum, as we thought it would be much more interesting to look at the houses where people still live. Many of them are open to the public for free, but there is a bowl at the entrance where it is advisable to drop a coin.
The inside of a cave house is just like an ordinary house – a bedroom, toilet, bathroom and living room, all quite spacious. And it’s actually very comfortable inside after the heat of the street. But in my opinion the sunlight is lacking.
The roof of the house offers a panoramic view of the cave town and the Sierra Nevada. If I could paint, I would certainly capture the beauty I’ve seen on canvas. Incidentally, the exotic beauty of Guadix in Spain has also attracted Hollywood. A new version of the film The Wizard of Oz was filmed here.
After admiring the panorama, we head downstairs. On one of the walls is a mosaic dedicated to the Señora (Saint) Gracia, patroness of Guadix, who was crowned on 30 October 1960. Then there is a plaque dedicated to St. Pedro Povera, who was beatified on May 4, 2003. There is a small church and a college named after him.
There are souvenir shops everywhere, of course.
We took the train back to the square and visited the Catedral y Parroquia El Sagrario, built on the site of an old mosque in mixed Renaissance and Baroque styles in the 16th and 18th centuries. A magnolia tree with an intoxicating scent bloomed near the cathedral.
The official Guadix Spain tourism website states that the cost to visit the cathedral is €5. But we didn’t pay anything for the entrance.
After the cathedral there was a shop where the ticket also included a tasting. In the shop we tasted local wine, cheese, bread and olive oil. We ended up buying butter and dark natural chocolate.
Slowly we move back to the railway station. The town is long awake, and there are people in the street. On the way we sat in a small but nice square, looked at the church of Saint Sebastian and Senora Rocío, which unfortunately was closed.
How to get to Guadix
The best way to get from Almeria is by train. The journey time is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. The cost of the ticket is €10.55.
The official website of the Spanish railways is www.renfe.com/es/en.