This little town in La Alpujarra is located on the south western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. It is located at over a thousand meters of altitude and has bountiful fresh water, beautiful views and stunning landscapes. The architecture is typical of La Alpujarra, with flat-roofed white houses that are woven seamlessly into the landscape.
Cáñar has two authentic natural monuments: the Paraje de Puentepalo, gorgeous pine forests that run along the Río Chico, at an altitude of over 1,700 meters, and the Cueva de Sortes, which takes its name from an old town that no longer exists. The Fuente de Poyo Dios is also located near the cave, in which Federico Garcia Lorca first heard the popular song that inspired him to write his famous romance of La Casada Infiel.
The town celebrates the feast of the Holy Innocents in a strange way. On 28th December the festival of the maidens takes place, an old tradition in which the unmarried men serenade the single ladies.
Cáñar dates back to the early years of the Muslim occupation in Spain. At this time (8th – 11th centuries) there was a farmstead here called ‘El Fex’, with many irrigation canals. In the mid-14th century, when La Alpujarra was divided up for administrative purposes, it fell under the jurisdiction of Taha de Órgiva.
In 1492, with the conquest of Granada, it fell into the hands of the Catholic Monarchs. The population was gradually harassed and repressed and in 1568 a wealthy local landowner, Hernando de Valor, who took the name of Aben Humeya, revolted against Felipe II. The uprising led to a general revolt amongst the Moors from all over the kingdom of Granada. He was taken prisoner in the farmhouse of El Fex, and in revenge one of his lieutenants completely destroyed the village.
The internal skirmishes between the Moors, who, in 1569, killed Aben Humeya, helped Juan of Austria to quell the uprising. The Moors were expelled in 1609 and Cáñar was repopulated with settlers from other parts of Spain. Barja, a next-door village, was destroyed by floods in 1816 and totally disappeared.
Most of the delicious local recipes use local white garlic. Specialities include almond soup, stews, Cigüelos broth (with beans), Migas, a special gypsy hotpot and cabbage stew.