the caves have been reconstructed to show how they would have been used as homes
each one represents a bedrom., living quarters, kitchen. Others show the various traditional crafts, basket making, weaving, pottery. you can take a giuded tour or just wander round for as long as you like.
The guides will answer any questions, even if you dont take a guided tour
Afterwards you can walk on up to the Abbey
which was closed by the time I arrived but it was still worth a visit, plus the views were amazing.
Sacromonte is famous for its Gypsy caves and Flamenco performances.
I visited during the afternoon, and found the museum was closed. (Siesta time is observed here, especially as much of the main activity of this neighbourhood starts late evening, into the early hours!)
In hindsight, I think this was a bonus, I appeared to be the only person wandering around this area. It was very peaceful, with the only sounds being birdsong, interrupted by the occasional car or moped passing by, or snatched bursts of someone singing, or playing guitar in the distance.
After the walk uphill, and wandering around the narrow streets, I was pleased to find an open bar, and ordered a cooling lager. I drank this outside, enjoying the warm sunshine and the views across to the Alhambra Palace, and down into Granada.
Sacromonte was originally called Valparaiso - it is situated in the Valparaiso valley. During the Roman period, following the discovery of human bones, thought to be the Christian Martyrs and Patron Saints of Granada- Cecilio and Tesifon, the name was changed to Sacromonte - Sacred or Holy Mountain. A monastery was built at this site.
The main road that passes through Sacromonte from Albaicin, Camino del Sacromente, was a pathway for pilgrims, with crosses lining the route.
Moors and Jews fleeing persecution, escaped to the mountainside area, forming cave homes, and a community. It is uncertain how the Gypsy community arrived in this area, one idea is that they arrived with the catholic army, accompanying the Monarchs. The gypsies were well known as being the craftsmen of the army, being experts in metal work, making equipment for the cavalery.
To be continued...
There is one big advantage to living in a cave above Granada - tremendous views from Sacromonte of the city, the Albaicin and the Alhambra, framed by the Sierra Nevada mountains.
There is a small Abbey at the very top of the cave-riddled Sacromonte hill. It is possible to walk up there, admire the view and see a few cave-dwellers going about their normal lives - hanging out the washing, exercising the donkey etc.
I took completely the wrong route, through a new housing development, through a fence and across a football pitch! However, there is an easier route along via Carril de San Miguel, which runs close to the old city walls.
The Abbey has a seventeenth century well at the rear, and (when I visited) several pot-smoking youths at the front. As well as seeing some real cave-dwellers, I was interested to see the re-building of part of the city wall. The new wall is being built of entirely different stone, smooth, like marble. It was actually possible to walk along a passageway along the middle of the new wall.
P.S. dress like a hippy if you want to blend in with the young tourists up here ;-)
Take the minibus from Plaza Nueva to Sarcomonte, the short journey takes you along narrow winding streets, when you get to Camino Del Monte get off and follow the signs for the Centro de Interpretacion del Sacromonte, go slowly, its quite a climb ! eventually [huffing and puffing a bit] you will reach the museum
here are caves for you to see how people have lived for hundreds of years, and some caves showing the traditional crafts of the region, usually there are local craftsmen and women working here in the caves, but we were here very early, and there were no other visitors around, actually we liked this because we could concentrate on viewing the caves and not having to wait for people to come out so we could see them, or for them to get out of the way when we were filming and taking photograps
these are not natural caves, but are man made, the exhibition shows you how the caves are constructed and gives you the history of how the caves came to be inhabited, they are still used as dwellings to this day
when we went into the caves we were suprised how warm they were on a chilly November morning, even though they werent heated by anything other than a light bulb, the rock of the hillside must have excellent insulating qualities, although we didnt miss seeing other visitors here we were sad to have missed the donkey who occupies the cave that is a stable
there are more pictures of the cave interiors in a travelogue, for the exterior areas please see next tip
the museum is open from 10.00am - 14.00pm and 17.00pm - 21.00pm from April to October, from November to March the afternoon opening time changes to 16.00pm - 19.00pm
the museum is open all day Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 21pm [summer] or 19pm [winter]
closed all day Monday
refreshments are available and there a good toilet facilities, because of the steep climb up to the museum I wouldnt recommend it for people who have mobility problems
entrance fee is 4 euro
At the museum there is a small botanic garden displaying the native plants, also there is an example of a typical vegetable garden. The geology of this area is explained and also the microclimate which explains why the two banks of the river are so different
follow the path and check out the exhibition rooms, we saw a great display of photographs
the walk terminates at the mirador or lookout point, with its splendid views of the Alhambra, note the different vegitation on the valley sides, this side arid with sparse vegitation and prickly pear and aloes growing wild, the opposite bank with its cover of trees almost like temperate rainforest, this will have been explained to you by one of the displays at the beginning of the path
for opening times / days please see the above tip
When people see the main road to Sacromonte they think the cave houses look nice, but if you look up the hill you will see the real gypsy caves. They really are just holes in the side of the hill. Many don't have proper doors and windows. It is like a 3rd world country.
Check out the photo. See what I mean?
If you are in the area and want to walk past these cave houses, walk up the hill to the Abby that sits on top by the old city wall.
Walking along the Carrera de Darro from Plaza Nueva, pass the Paseo de los Tristes and go further until you enter in the Sacromonte area.
The caves and the abbey deserve a visit by sure, but please be careful, I never heard about any problem, but even if I am tourist, I am a local, and I hear tourist had to be careful with belongs ...
Get inside of the caves, some are bars and you can have some drinks ut side at terraces in summer.
Also this are is famous at night for pubs and also flamenco shows.
On the way back we can visit the other part of the Albaicin
The most charming walk in the Sacromonte follows a cobbled path called the Vereda de Enmedio, with awesome views of the Alhambra and the Albaicin.... in the shadow of Granada's 14th century wall.
Our next stop - the splendid El Sacromonte, famous amongst tourists for its gypsy caves.
The ABBEY Of SACROMONTE is also worth visiting if you have some time to spare.
Address: Way of Sacromonte 4
** Closed on Mondays **
The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or "medina", called the Albaicin, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens, known as "c?rmenes". The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the Albaicin, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish palace.
The Sacromonte hill, which overlooks the city from the North, is famous for its cave dwellings, once the home of Granada's large gypsy community.
These inhabited gypsy caves are the subject of much controversy. Admittedly, they're a tourist trap, one of the most obviously commercial and shadowy rackets in Spain. Still, the caves are also a potent attraction.
Once, thousands of gypsies lived on the "Holy Mountain," so named because of several Christians martyred here. However, many of the caves were heavily damaged by rain in 1962, forcing hundreds of the occupants to seek shelter elsewhere. Nearly all the gypsies remaining are in one way or another involved with tourism. (Some don't even really live here)
At night loads of visitors descend on these caves near the Albaicin, the old Arab section. Its main street, is lined with these caves that have been converted into restaurants and flamenco bars, a unique locale for experiencing Granada nightlife. In every cave you'll hear the rattle of castanets and the strumming of guitars, while everybody in the gypsy family struts his or her stuff. Although it sounds intriguing, it is not very good entertainment. Whenever a gypsy boy or girl comes along with genuine talent, he or she is often grabbed up and hustled off to the more expensive clubs. Those left at home can be rather pathetic in their attempts to entertain.
One of the main reasons for going is to see the caves themselves. If you're expecting primitive living, you may be in for a surprise-many are quite comfortable, with conveniences like telephones and electricity. Often they're decorated with copper and ceramic items-and the inhabitants need no encouragement to sell them to you.
I didn't get to experience this personally but you can see in the picture gypsy caves where the gypsies actually live to. I would have loved to have gotten inside one of them. Apparently there are tours available and occassionally Flamenco is held within the caves. I bet it is amazing and the caves themselves are supposedly very elaborate.
One of the other things to do in Granada is go over to the Sacromonte area - a gypsy enclave. One of the things I wanted to do while in Granada was attend a flamenco in the Sacromonte area - unfortunately for me - due to an injury I couldn't get over there.
"Cuevas" in the Sacromonte are interesting places. They are caves where people live and it seems very fresh. Some are, also a kind of pubs, or places for the Flamenco.