The Lecrin Valley is located South of Granada, halfway between the Coast and the city. The valley has many small villages dotted around the picturesque countryside. Orange and lemons trees as far as you can see, mixed with Pine, olive and almond trees. The Moors actually named this valley the Valley of Happiness, due to the fresh mountain water that comes down into the valley from the Sierra Nevada mountains and for it´s abundance of fruit trees and plants.
The size of the villages vary, some have a population of around 1000 villagers and others are smaller. This area of Lecrin was historically important in the 14th & 15th century with the ousting of the Moriscos from Granada and other areas of Al Andalus. The historic novel by Idlefonso Falconés the Hand of Fatima is set in this area as well as the Alpujarra, Granada and other areas of Andalusia.
Here are more details on the sleepy villages in the Valley of Lecrin:
The whole valley is well-known for it´s oranges, but Melegis is the place most associated with citrus fruits, as the Orange Export warehouse is based here. The photo above is taken from outside the Meson los Naranjos, a popular restaurant in Melegis and a great place to have lunch or dinner. You can dine inside or outside on the outdoor terrace in good weather. They also sell 2 kilo bags of sweet juicy valley oranges and lemons for 2 euros. Talking about lemons the book by ex Genesis Drummer Chris Stewart Driving over Lemons was set in this valley and the surrounding area.
Just opposite this restaurant is a balcony overlooking the landscape of the valley and you can see the reservoir at Beznar. This elegant balcony was designed by Fine art students. They created different types of benches and chairs to contemplate the view in style. The decorations that are placed on the top of the wall are really original too, each one is different.
Pinos del Valle
This village has about 300 houses. The village is made up of two parts: The barrio alto and barrio bajo. Each neighbourhood has it´s own church. Tuesday is market day. There are just a few stalls selling plants, ceramics and some other household items. The shop Comestibles Maria has tobacconists and also sells great quality fruit and vegetables. (my weekly shop is done there!)
The village celebrates the Crosses of May (usually first weekend in May) with a pilgrimage up to the Hermitage on the top of the hill, 1052 metres above sea level. Lots of noisy bangers and a huge paella in the centre of the village are part of this celebration. In August the Local fiesta is San Roque where they have a lot of fireworks, religious processions and dancing in the square. Another part of this festival is the waving of the flag. See this video (sorry it´s wonky) Flag ceremony – Pinos del Valle
The Beznar reservoir is visible from the motorway and was actually built in 1935 on the site of the previous village of Beznar. The old village is now submerged underwater. The massive containing dam wall is a lofty 134 metres high. Beznar village celebrate their patron San Antón on 8th September. The Festival of the Musketeers. I actually went to pick olives close to this area, find out about the day in the olive grove by reading: Olive picking
This village is quite close to Durcal and well-known for it´s hiking trails and caves.
The local market is held on a Monday. The church in the main square is called Saint John the Baptist or San Juan Bautista built in 1561 -1562 (pictured below)
There are a few nice places to dine in this village. El Rincón at the Alquería de Los Lentos they have a garden terrace serving Brunch, Lunch and Afternoon Teas. The address is camino de los Molinos. Nigüelas. bookings and information: +34 600 030 565 . Also in the village itself is the Casa de Lino which have a great restaurant and offer free wifi. Bookings: 678 030 110
This is the largest town in the area and good for running errands and doing shopping.
Wednesday is market day, this market is quite a lot bigger than the other ones dotted around the valley. From Durcal buses leave every hour or so to Padul and Granada. See Alsa.es can give you more details.
This town is practical and but not as quaint as the other surrounding villages. Close to the Hermitage of San Blas is a sign indicating Thermal Spa waters. You have to walk quite a way to get to them, a few miles. The water is at a constant temperature of 25ºC.
The village of Mondujar is beside Lecrin or Talara. It is historically significant as the Moors were here around the time of the end of the Al Andalus kingdom. Morayma and Mulay Hacen are known to be buried around here although they havent found the exact place. There are ruins of a castle just 600 metres from the village itself. In an area called Cerro del Castillejo. This is known to be the first summer residence of the Royal Family of Granada 500 years ago.
The church is visible from the motorway, Saint John the Baptist was built in the 16th century and later modified slightly. Built with local stone from nearby Conchar and wood from Albuñuelas. The Mill or Molino de Mondújar (photo below) was restored in 2005 and it is an interesting place to see. It is now used as a museum and the outdoor space is used for social events such as music concerts or Flamenco in the summer months. On Fridays there is a market in Mondújar.
This small village is between Pinos del Valle and Melegis, in the census of 2010 just under 600 people were listed to live here. The Thai Elephant restaurant is located on the road to Restabal. It has a terrace with views of the countryside and Thai food made by a Thai lady who lives in the valley.
The village of Talará is also confusingly known as Lecrin. This village is situated between Mondujar and Melegis, 31 kms from the city of Granada. It is really close to the motorway which connects with Granada northbound and southbound to the beaches of the Tropical Coast, and villages such as Salobreña and Almuñecar. They celebrate one of their local festivals on 8th December called the Christ Saint of the Shoe.
There are more villages in Lecrin Valley such as El Padul which has particularly good areas for birdwatching and is also known for it´s association with the Mammoth due to previous archaeological discoveries. The even have a local ale called Mamut. The small village of Chite which is situated next to Melegis. The village of Albuñuelas, Saleres and Acequias close to Durcal.
This area is the perfect base if you want to explore the Beaches and watersports on the Costa Tropical, the city of Granada with its mighty Alhambra Palace and the remote Alpujarra Villages. These places can be reached by car in just a short drive away.