Historic silk and royal Serrano
Trevelez and the villages in the Alpujarras
The mountains of the Alpujarras region, also known as the gateway to the Sierra Nevada, rise up just a few kilometres from the coast. This area boasts a fascinating landscape with rugged mountains and deep steep valleys. Small winding roads and lanes meander through the mountains and valleys, and around every bend the eye is treated to a new mesmerising view.
The golden age of silk production
The mountainous region was settled by the Moorish Berbers as far back as the 8th century, and their presence has left its mark on the landscape to this day. It was they who terraced the steep slopes and created the conditions for successful agriculture in the region by installing an ingenious irrigation system with retention basins, surface and underground artificial water channels ("acequias") and wells. Mulberry trees were cultivated alongside figs, almonds and other fruits, and they also bred silkworms. This proved to be very successful, because from the 11th century onwards the Alpujarra was one of the most important centres of silk production in Spain and Europe. In the 16th century, the Muslim population and the Moors who had converted to Christianity were driven out of the region and peasants from Galicia, León, Asturias and Castile were settled there instead. However, due to a lack of expertise, they were unable to maintain the elaborate water management systems used by their predecessors in the long term, with the result that silk production and agriculture fell into decline and many villages fell into disrepair.
Today, this mountainous region is one of the highlights of Andalusia because the warm climate influenced by the Mediterranean, the lush vegetation in some parts of the region and the snow-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada form a fascinating contrast. Little villages have retained their historic charm and are very distinctive: for example, the heritage-listed village of Capileira with its traditional North-African-style flat-roofed houses that remain impressive examples of Moorish architecture to this day. Another is Órgiva, which became one of the largest hippie communities in the 1970s and has lost none of its cosmopolitanism and charm to this day.
Read more in the next Blog: Quality with a royal seal