Pampaneira is one of those unknown places in Granada where it is easy to get lost walking through its picturesque streets of white houses and colorful jarapas. A town in the Alpujarra region (divided between the provinces of Granada and Almería), with just over 300 inhabitants, where handicrafts are particularly valuable.
The natural beauty of the surrounding landscape stands out, as most of its municipal area is integrated into the Sierra Nevada National Park. The urban area of Pampaneira is located on the southern slope of Sierra Nevada; specifically in the Poqueira district, on the peaks of Veleta and Mulhacén. A village that has the typical elements of this region, like its neighbours Buvión and Capileira.
Brief history of the origin of Pampaneira
When the Kingdom of Granada surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, part of its inhabitants ran to take refuge in the Alpujarras. They remained there for almost 80 years with their language, traditions and religion. These were the Moorish of Granada, who survived like this until King Philip II sent Don Juan of Austria to expel them.
In order to repopulate the Alpujarra’s lands, people from the kingdom of Castile settled in the area, which included lower Andalusia. However, the name of Pampaneira comes from the Andalusian or Mozarabic romance; so they already existed before the Castilian conquest.
Pampaneira is very easy to visit; it is a small village where you only need to get lost in the streets to find beautiful spots. Characterized by its location among mountains, its staggered houses, the tinaos so typical of this region and balconies overflowing with plants result in a very pleasant walk. In this way you can easily reach the Plaza de la Libertad, where many of its streets begin and end. It is one of the most important locations among all that can be seen in Pampaneira.
In the square there are not only terraces and restaurants where you can taste popular cuisine such as the plato alpujarreño (patatas a lo pobre with onions and peppers, fried eggs, ham, black pudding, loin and chorizo), but also many craft shops such as those selling woven and characteristic Alpujarra’s jarapas, which are mostly multicoloured carpets. They are made with thick fabrics, using wool, cotton warp, synthetic fibre, antique fabrics… In addition to carpets, the looms make blankets, curtains…
The simplicity and the multiple uses of the jarapas have caused them to continue to be manufactured in a traditional way. To understand the origin of the jarapa, one must go back to the 16th century. Then, the Moorish population was expelled from the Alpujarra. The population that remained in the area adapted and reused the looms used by the Arabs to make silk.
In the centre of the Plaza de la Libertad is the Church of La Santa Cruz. The present temple is a work of the 18th century; specifically it was built between 1726 and 1730, as indicated in the certificate of emplacement of the first stone. The ochre color of the brick on its walls and tiles among so many white buildings is striking. In 1728, trees were chosen for the church’s framework; an example of how Mudejar religious architecture still survived at that time. Together with the temples in the towns of Cáñar and Bayacas, it is one of the few cases of Mudejar coffered ceilings in the Alpujarra of Granada.
The Church of La Santa Cruz is made up of a single nave and has a spectacular Mudejar-style coffered ceiling, as well as four wooden altarpieces dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Once outside the temple and located opposite it is the fountain of San Antonio, known as La Chumpaneira, where you can read a legend about it. This legend explains that the fountain has properties that make that when drinking its water the singles find a partner.
Walking the streets of Pampaneira
From La Libertad Square, you can reach the area known as the Barrio Bajo by walking down Verónica Street; one of the most beautiful streets in Pampaneira. It is crossed by a small ditch through which the irrigation water runs. Thus, the lower quarter was formerly intended for farmers, as it was close to farmland. In the upper quarter the shepherds lived, being close to the cattle trails that led to the pastures of the Sierra.
Following the path, you will reach Princesa Street, where you can see the first fully developed tinao, which covers the entire street. After this you can go down Viso Street, where the village almost ends. Here there is a weaving workshop where they make the popular jarapas.
Other important streets are the Paseo García Lorca, where you can enjoy good views of other nearby towns such as Capileira and Bubión; the Calle Real, where you can see the tinaos full of flowers and the Terraos de las Cámaras, with an excellent view of the town; the Calle Cristo where the tinao del Pescado is located, as this is where fish from the coastal towns was sold. Finally, in the streets of Pampaneira there are many family shops where you can buy jarapas, sweets, ceramics, sausages…
Before reaching the Arab washing place you can see the Cerrillo fountain. It has three pipes in which water flows over a small pillar. Underneath it is the Arab washing place, in Cerrillo street. It has a rectangular floor plan and has semicircular arches. In the past it was a very important meeting point; as it was used by the women of the village to wash their clothes. As a curiosity, it was used as a stage in the Spanish film Yerma.