The municipality of Bérchules includes the towns of Alcútar and Bérchules. On the road that links them is the Fuente de las Carmelas, one of the most popular springs in the region. Legend has it that all unmarried people who drink its waters will find soon find love.
This town is located on the southern slopes of the Parque Natural de Sierra Nevada, high up the mountain, in stunning surroundings. Bérchules has a spring called Fuente Agria located in the basin of the Río Guadalfeo. The classic La Alpujarra architecture of white houses with flat roofs and staggered streets are perfectly adapted here to the rugged terrain.
Interestingly, Bérchules celebrates New Year’s Eve in August. Once, fairly recently, there was a power cut on 31st December which deprived the villagers of their New Year festivities. The people of Berchules decided from then on to celebrate in summer instead.
Bérchules dates back to the 8th century, during the Moorish period, but reached greater splendour and wealth during the Nasrid period thanks to the production of silk, fresh produce, wine, nuts and aromatic essences that were sold all over the Kingdom of Granada.
It played an important role during the rebellion of the Moors in the 16th century. Juan of Austria supressed the revolt and expelled the Moors from the city. Later settlers from other parts of Spain repopulated it.
There are two theories about the origin of the name Bérchules. One version goes that it derives from the Arab world berchul (orchard). There is an abundance of orchards and fertile land in the area, so it would make sense. The other version goes that it comes from Banu Asad, the name of a family who settled in the area.
The other town in the municipality, Alcútar, is translated means ‘fountain of Paradise,’ and it was also called Alcunça or Alcuza.
River trout are very popular in this area, as are the cured hams and preserves. Sobrehúsa de Habichuelas is a local speciality.
Nowadays, the ceremonial of the celebrations is conserved almost identical to the one described by Gerald Brenan in his book To the south of Granada. In the traditional parade between Bérchules and Alcútar, the patron of the grazing animals leaves [...]
This New Year’s Eve celebration has been held on the first Saturday in August ever since Christmas 1994, the year in which the inhabitants of Berchules had a power cut at midnight on 31st December. Since then, the inhabitants celebrate [...]