Califate routeAdd to My Granada
This route is altogether an adventure for the spirit: the two poles between which the fabulous cultural, religious, political and social legacy, which represents the stay of the Muslims in the peninsula, oscillates, with an almost moribund intensity.
This route is altogether an adventure for the spirit: the two poles between which the fabulous cultural, religious, political and social legacy, which represents the stay of the Muslims in the peninsula, oscillates, with an almost moribund intensity. Córdoba, the apogee, the blinding light that made the other cities of the West turn pale.
Granada, the refined terminal mannerism of an entire civilization at stake. And in between, the castles and towns that were, at first, stages or milestones in a more-or-less accidental interchange and later campsites and bases to corner and lay siege to Granada.
This itinerary is a history lesson, taking place in three different districts and following intense frontier skirmishes on the part of the Banu Yahwar, Banu Ziri, Almoravids and Almohads… all of which is described by the geographer al-Idrisi and the written down by the erudite Ibn Said al-Magribi. It takes us to the Christian conquest, which affected the development of all the Andalusian territories, reinforced the defenses of the urban areas and concentrated the rural populace in the towns. The psychosis of frontier, accentuated by the incursions of raiding parties and even by the Moorish army, from the middle of the 14th century, fed Castilian literature in a beneficial way, offering frontier episodes to the authors of Spanish romances. A good example is the cycle of the Princes of Lara. Those of the conquered cities were added to these romances.
We will be able to appreciate the towns and cities which made up a civilization, which at first explodes and then dies down, not into embers, but rather into a final withering goad. The continuous presence of walled towns and castles, perched on strategic heights, is an outstanding feature of the Route, which gives it a markedly historic and romantic look. Most of these fortresses and towns came into being precisely during the existence of al-Andalus. Its fortified appearance became even more accentuated from the 11th century onwards, as the frontier zone became divided between Christians and Nasrids and the conflicts became more intense. Apart from being historically and ethically informative, it is also aesthetically pleasing. At once a history lesson and a treat for the senses and not just for the eyes.
The cultivated palate will also encounter local flavours, dishes and confectionery, whose origins lie in al-Andalus. The gastronomic wealth of the Route of the Caliphate is supported by the abundant selection in agricultural and livestock products, which are being increasingly produced along ecological lines, which endeavour to maintain their natural qualities at a maximum. Throughout the seasons, wines, oils and flours are produced from the vineyards, olive groves and arable land; fruits and vegetables of exceptional quality are obtained from the orchards and market gardens.
The livestock; beef, sheep, goats, pigs and fowl provide meat, charcuterie and cheeses. The Route crosses an area full of places of great natural and ecological interest. Beyond the Sierras Subbéticas Natural Park and the lacustrine reserve, el Salobral, the sierras become gentler and, upon entering the Moclín passes, they start to slowly descend. Around Colomera, Pinos Puente, Güevéjar and Cogollos Vega they have practically disappeared. In Alfacar and Víznar, they already only form a horizon of mountains, woods and pastures, springs and streams, all of which pertain to the natural park of Huétor. The fertile Vega of Granada, irrigated by the Genil, is closer, with its white hamlets. Granada is less than a league away and the Sierra Nevada, which is both a national and a natural park, the ecological wealth of which led it to be declared a Reserve of the Biosphere by the UNESCO. Its complexity is the dominant feature of its relief, a labrynth of ravines, gorges, quarries and streams, on the slopes of which a most varied and autochthonous vegetation flourishes; groves of holm oaks, black oaks, Spanish cedars and Andalusian pines.
Córdoba, Fernán Núñez, Montemayor, Aquilar de la Frontera, Espejo, Castro del Río, Montilla, Baena, Sueros, Cabra, Luque, Alcaudete, Lucena, Carcabuey, Priego de Córdoba, Castillo de Locubín, Alcalá la Real, Moclín, Colomera, Pinos Puente, Güevéjar, Cogollos Vega, Alfacar, Víznar, Granada.
The Route of the Caliphate joins the natural lowlands of the Guadalquivir River with the plain of Granada, crossing over the Sierra Subbética. It is completed with the Sierra Morena and the Sierra Nevada routes, places where all your senses come alive.
Córdoba was constructed on the lowlands of the Guadalquivir River. Granada stands at the beginning of the Vega or plain, with the imposing Sierra Nevada mountain range on either side. Between these two cities are the river terraces, mountain ranges, lagoons to watch aquatic birds, and rural regions. Not to mention rivers, lush vegetation and plant life native to the area; woadwaxen bushes or piornos, gall oak, holm olk, kermes oak, and wild olive trees.
There are a large number of people who practice a wide range of crafts, from goldsmiths and jewellers to makers of ceramic pottery, woven materials, or leatherworkers, all to be discovered along the Route of the Caliphate. Cordoba has always been renowned for its skilled jewellers, leatherworkers, and potters. As we continue along the Route, we come across other craftsmen who use different materials, such as olive wood in Castro del Río; wrought ironwork and saddle-making in Baena; tinwork in Montilla; leatherwork in Cabrada; and finally, outstanding quality pottery and Fajalauza ceramics, handcrafts using metal, stone, glass, material, and the famous inlay marquetry of Granada.
The legacy that Al-Andalus bequeathed to these lands crossing this route is ever- present in its traditions and festivities. These begin in January with the procession of the Three Kings and the feast of St. Anthony, patron saint of livestock. The changing of the seasons to spring is marked by Holy Week, with its typical processions, and the original festivity of drum beating with the judíos coliblancos y colinegros of Baena. May brings us closer to the Festivity of the Crosses and the pilgrimages. In June, the smell of bonfire smoke on the night of San Juan announces the start of summer, and the Fairs. At summer’s end, the festivities are connected with the grape harvest, one of the main festivities of the Spanish Moslems.
The villages we pass through on this route owe their culinary style to Al-Andalus, a fact made obvious in the dishes, and the ingredients. Fruits, vegetables, meat, cold meats, milk, cheeses, mountain berries, honey, aromatic herbs… Not forgetting the wines and oils of the region. Therefore, Montilla-Moriles provides a fino, amontillado, oloroso or young wine, just as good at the start as at the end of a meal. The extra virgin olive oil rounds off and flavours the dishes of this robust cuisine.
The repertoire of dishes is plentiful and hearty, including stews, casseroles, and rice dishes, migas and gachas; oxtail stews, calderetas and dishes with fish, poultry, rabbit, game, beef or pork. The selection of sweet pastries to satisfy the most demanding deserves a special mention on the Route of the Caliphate. Made with honey, flour, pastry, oil, eggs, sugar, spices, almonds and raisins, sweet pastries come in a myriad of forms; roscos, pestiños, tortas, bizcochos, mostachos, hornazos, pastas, alfajores and polvorones.