Friday, October 26, 2012

The Gypsy Caves of Sacromonte

Gorgeous facade in Granada's Sacromonte district.

A breathtaking walk from Granada's Alhambra Palace on the hill into the city below will take you through a lushly wooded park with trickling waterfalls and a number of ancient arched gates along the Cuesta de Gomerez down to the Plaza Nueva.  But for some reason we thought this path might take too long, and opted instead to take the "shortcut" recommended by a passerby.  What the passerby failed to mention was that the shortcut follows along the outer citadel wall and offers no shade.  Nada.  So we walked this much less scenic, dry, barren, pebbled path at high noon in July down the hill, across the river, and found ourselves on Carrera del Darro on the left bank of the River Darro.

The less scenic path, called Cuesta de los Chinos, or
Pebble Slope, because of its paving.

No worries though.  Carrera del Darro is a scenic old street with interesting buildings and ancient Arab remains.  And, if we hadn't landed here, we might have missed the opportunity, after rehydrating, to visit the nearby gypsy caves of Sacromonte on the outskirts of town.

The Sacromonte quarter really has only one main street, and it's easy to know when you've found it because its entrance is marked by a statue of "Churrohumo," a popular gypsy from Granada in the 1950s.  (Not sure why the patina around his crotch is buffed clean . . . )

Churrohumo awaits you on Camino del Sacromonte.

The walk up the street, Camino del Sacromonte, is fascinating, as it is lined with cave dwellings excavated from the soft white limestone rock.  These still-inhabited homes go back deep into the hills - the fronts are only facades.

The gypsies were not the first people to live in Granada's caves.  Since the 15th century, Arabs, Jews, and Oriental nomads have inhabited these underground accommodations; the gypsies simply moved into them after the Moors were expelled during Christian conquest of Spain.

Many of the structures are now flamenco clubs, in this region called zambras.  Zambra is a traditional, flamboyant gypsy flamenco dance which evolved from Moorish belly dancing.  We did not attend a show, which I understand vary significantly in quality, nor were we in the Sacromonte district at night, which has been said to not always be safe.

Zambra clubs in the Sacromonte district.

I would have loved to explore the intriguing side lanes and unusual landscape of the gypsy district even more (although preferably in cooler weather, as there is a lot of concrete in whitewashed Sacromonte), but my kids were not keen on scouting any further.  I can't say this area is especially captivating for children, I suppose.  There are outstanding views of the Alhambra complex from Sacromonte.

Terrific views of the Alhambra from the Sacromonte district in Granada.

You can stay overnight in Granada's gypsy caves if you're so inclined.  Here is a pretty looking rental offered by Veo Apartments:  Granada Apartment Sacromonte Cueva 2.  Looks like fun to me!

This is my weekly link-up post for Photo Friday at


  1. Looks intriguing - like someplace that you could spend hours poking around. Pretty sure that my older daughter wouldn't be at all interested either though. :) Love that first photo - beautiful!

  2. I'll be pondering the mystery of the buffed crotch for awhile now, thanks! ;-)

  3. This place looks gorgeous. Really quaint and interesting and best of all sunny!

    Happy Aloha Friday :)

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

  4. Lovely pics you took! The surroundings look so peaceful. Thanks for linking up to the Aloha Friday Hop. I'm excited to follow you in your travels via your blog. Have a wonderful weekend :).

  5. Beautiful pictures. It looks amazing there. Have a great weekend :)

  6. I love the idea of staying in one of these cave dwellings overnight - thanks for including a link to a rental.

  7. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for the follow, following back!

  8. hi sonja! thanks for stopping by. i love your photos. there is so much beauty in this world that i have yet to explore and i love that i can see some of it through you!
    hope you have a wonderful week-end, i will be back to visit ya.

  9. Love your blog. I always wanted to travel to europe. Now i can through your blog. New follower here

  10. We spent some time in Spain a few years ago, gorgeous!

  11. Thanks for the follow. Love your blog. Returning the favor.

  12. I love the views from this area. What a great place to get lost and explore. The caves really sound fascinating. Maybe rubbing Churrohumo's crotch was considered good luck at one time? (sounds disturbing, I know) I love how that house looks on the first picture.

  13. I kind of liked the idea of staying in one of these caves until I went to the rental page you posted. $110 Euros a night with a minimum 3 night rental, and it has to be paid in cash upon arrival? Maybe I've been watching too much TV, but I'd be a little nervous doing that kind of rental. Too bad because it looks like a fun place to try.

    1. Hey Steve - Hmmm...well, gypsies have never been known for their high-minded business practices. Thanks for researching the facts more than I did, though!

  14. Looks like a great place to visit thanks for the introduction to Sacromonte.


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