The ski resort of the Sierra Nevada, the southernmost in the whole of Europe, is located in Monachil. It has more than one hundred kilometres of pistes.
The town is situated in the valley of the Parque Natural de Sierra Nevada and overlooks the plains of Granada. The Río Monachil crosses its vast territory from east to west. Its slopes are of varied heights, with the Veleta at 3394 meters above sea level and with the lowers plain at 740 meters above sea level.
The character and structure of this traditional mountain town so near to Granada have been well preserved. The diverse landscapes are of great ecological value. There are three areas: the high mountain, above 2000 meters with lagoons and meadows; the mid-mountain, a high and very diverse landscape; and the low-mountain area, with its fertile plain and variety of crops.
The range of things to do is very wide and includes skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities, as well as to hiking, biking riding, climbing and paragliding. Besides enjoying the wide range of sports and leisure activities here, the municipality has a rich tradition in crafts and culinary excellence.
Some of the most spectacular places in the Sierra Nevada are clustered around the Río Monachil such as the canyon of Los Cahorros. It is just 2 kilometres from Monachil with a landscape made up of steep cliffs, stone tunnels, a waterfall and its famous suspension bridge that is over 55 meters long. It is a very popular place amongst hikers.
Much of the indigenous flora of the Sierra Nevada can be seen in the botanical garden Jardín Botánico de La Cortijuela, where more than a hundred of the most representative plant species of the national park have been collected for research and study purposes. These include oak, rowan, hawthorn, honeysuckle, rosehip and broom. The garden is near the Monte Trevenque hill, between the Casa Forestal de La Cortijuela y the Arroyo Huenes. It is accessed along a 2-kilometre long path that starts from the Fuente del Hervidero, which will take you past places such as the Puente de los 7 Ojos.
Although its name comes from the Arab period, the area was a human settlement for several thousand years before that time, as illustrated by the Prehistoric site of Cerro de la Encina. Here archaeological remains belonging to a fortified Argaric settlement have been found, believed to date back to 1700 BC. This is one of the most important of its time, both in terms of defensive architecture and its excellent location. It was used in later times by people from different cultures. It is thought that the houses were mud huts and their graves included many burial goods. The main parts are preserved in the local archaeological museum. Interestingly, half of the bones that have been found on the site are horse bones. Evidence supporting the existence of (late) Roman and Pre-Islamic cultures settlers has also been discovered.
In the Muslim era Monachil was a farmstead called Qaryat al-Munastal. Its population worked mainly in agriculture, specifically in the cultivation of mulberry trees for the production of silk. In the 16th century the town of Monachil was founded. After the Reconquista, it was repopulated through the direct sale of the land to Castilian peasants.
The local cuisine is based on mountain village traditions. One of the most traditional dishes is the Olla of San Anton, made of dried beans, rice, chickpeas, fennel and various parts of pork (including the trotters and the tail). This is particularly good in winter. Other recipes include dishes like fried potatoes, beans with ham that is cured locally and vegetable casseroles.