The cave dwellings of Guadix | AspenTimes.com

The cave dwellings of Guadix

Morgan Smith

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Guadix is a fascinating farm town some 40 miles east of Granada, Spain, that was initially settled in Paleolithic times. Subsequently it was named Julia Gemella Acci by Julius Caesar. The Moors later occupied it, gave it the name Guadh-Haxi, or “river of life,” and made it a center for poetry.In 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella drove the Moors from Granada, many fled to Guadix and carved eaves out of the hard tufalike earth. Several thousand of Guadix’s residents still live in these chambers. It’s an eerie landscape with the white chimneys poking up randomly in a lunarlike landscape. The caves, however, are immaculately whitewashed inside and maintain a stable, comfortable temperature throughout both the summer heat and the winter cold.There is now a cave/museum, but it’s more interesting to wander around until someone invites you to visit their home. That’s how I’ve come to know residents like Francisca Encina, Maravilla Garrido and Manuel Jabalera.

Four miles away in the pottery center of Purullena, an enterprising young man named Francisco “Paco” Carmelo and his parents have turned several caves, one above the other, into a roadside museum called Cueva La Inmaculada by chopping a tunnel through the rock-hard earth with pickaxes and making a spacious stairway. Now these caves contain a fascinating array of photographs (Paco proudly shows me one picture of his mother swinging a pickaxe), old farm tools and other antiques.This is a fascinating side trip for anyone visiting Granada.Morgan Smith is a former Aspenite and part-time Barcelona resident. He can be reached at msmith@abaforum.es.