Lanjarón is also known simply as the spa town. Pedro Antonio de Alarcón described it as ‘a poet’s dream’, describing the beauty of its white houses on the slope of the Cerro del Caballo, on the southern side of the Sierra Nevada. This spectacular view inspired the write to write: “Stop and pay attention! Drop your pens and pick up your brushes…” In fact, this phrase can be seen on the pillar by the Fuente de las Adelfas commemorating the visit of the author to the area.
The Mirador de la Cañona is nearby. The viewpoint (that literally means canon viewpoint) is named after the fact that many pieces of artillery used during the War of Independence against the French troops were found here. This a stunning place to take in the beauty of the town and the medieval castle, whose ruins dominate the steep valley of the Río Lanjarón.
The town has enough to see to make a visit worthwhile at any time of the year. It has good hotels and restaurants, a neighbourhood with traditional architecture of La Alpujarra, beautiful gardens and leafy forest walks, a long main street with stalls where you can buy traditional pieces of handmade pottery and wickerwork.
But Lanjarón is most famous for its spa – the most popular one in the whole of Andalucia. It is said that the waters can help alleviate ailments such as rheumatism and arthritis, as well as liver and kidney problems.
The World Health Organization has recognized Lanjarón with the highest life expectancy in the world. It is precisely the quality of its waters and the fantastic climate of the area, together with the pure mountain air and the Mediterranean diet which ensures that many locals live for more than one hundred years.
The local festival of San Juan nicknames the water and ham festival is spectacular. It begins with ‘La Publica’ when everyone dresses up and finishes with a massive water fight.
According to its name, Lanjarón probably dates back to even before the Roman era. Its name in the local pre-Roman local language means “place abundant in water”.
During the Arab rule the town became increasingly important due to its strategic location as a natural gateway to La Alpujarra. It also played an important role during the Alhamares dynasty in the first half of the 13th century.
King Ferdinand took the town in 1490, but in 1500 its Moorish inhabitants revolted. The uprising was supressed by the Christians despite the determination of the Moors. The leader of the rebels jumped off a tower to his death so that he would not have to surrender to the Christians.
The town participated in the fight against Napoleon’s troops in the War of Independence, so much so that the locals were nicknamed cañoneros (gunners).
The highlight of the area is, of course, the waters. They are bottled and sold throughout Spain. The town has some famous pork products including ham and cured meat. Some other local specialities include almond soup, chestnut and fennel soup, ribs with pumpkin and mushrooms, chicken in sauce or rabbit served with rice.
One of its more peculiar traditions is to eat hot chocolate with buñuelos and a glass of anise. The local chestnut cake, custard cakes with nuts and the dried fig cakes are also delicious and worth trying.