Thursday, October 28

Níjar, white houses and virgin coast | The traveler

It is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain and one of the largest municipalities —600 square kilometers, like Madrid capital—, with 36 districts, 30,000 souls and a fantastic natural park, the Cabo de Gata-Níjar from Almeria, famous for its unspoiled beaches. In winter there is also a lot to see: pottery, old gold mines, thousands of flamingos and postcard lighthouses.

The potter workshop of Ángel y Loli in Níjar (Almería).
The potter workshop of Ángel y Loli in Níjar (Almería).

10.00. Ceramic neighborhood

We enter Níjar through calle de las Eras, leaving the modern Performing Arts Center (1) (temporarily closed), by MGM Arquitectos, and to the left the iron silhouette of a potter modeling a pitcher. We are in the neighborhood of the Potters, where containers have always been made to contain the most valuable and elusive thing that is in this desert corner of the Peninsula: water. Potters like Baldo Garcia (Eras, 108; ), Rafael Granados (You were, 104) or Angel and Loli (You were, 31), who would be strange not to catch red-handed. In The Shop of Miracles (Craftsman, 1;) work and sell Matthew Weir, a Scotsman who has lived here since 1988, and his wife, Isabel Soler, who weaves jarapas the old-fashioned way.

11.00. The memory of water

Above the church, Níjar recalls the Moorish town that it once was, with small streets and white houses with a roof and a cistern. In the Market square (2), three huge elm trees astonish the building shared by the tourist office ( and the Memory of Water Museum (3), where they talk about wells, mills, waterwheels, desalination plants … Traversing the Portillo (4), one of the arches of the old wall, we will ascend in five minutes to the watchtower tower (5), from the 13th century, from where you can see all of Nijar; its white hamlet, Cabo de Gata and the sea. Then we will go up to the district of Huebro (6), but already by car, because it is much higher, 696 meters high, in the Sierra Alhamilla. In Huebro the homonymous river flows that later crosses Níjar and that in its day moved 25 mills, which is stagnant as soon as it is born in a green and shimmering raft like an emerald. In 1950, when there were lead, silver, zinc and copper mines, Huebro had almost 1,000 neighbors. Today, with only pure water and air, fewer than 10 live.

12.00. Paddling between coves

Time to explore the Nijar coastline, extensive and virginal like no other in the Spanish Mediterranean. MedialunAventura organizes easy kayak routes of an hour and a half, visiting hidden caves and coves. They cost 25 euros. The Isub club offers diving baptisms and snorkeling experiences with a guide in these funds brimming with life: sea bass, bream, snapper, salema, tapaculos… It looks like a fish market! On our own we can walk up to the tower of the Wolves (7). There is no better observatory on the coast than this watchtower erected in the 18th century to prevent attacks by Barbary pirates on a promontory 265 meters above the sea. From here you can see from the Volcanic hill of Fraile (8), 9.5 kilometers southwest, to the Mesa Roldán lighthouse (9), to another 14 to the northeast. It takes 45 minutes from the district of Rodalquilar, walking along a road cut off from traffic with quite a slope. You can also go up by bike, but you have to be fit.

La Isleta del Moro, a marine enclave where you can taste good fish in Cabo de Gata, owes its name to one of the rocks that mark its beach, slightly separated from the coast.
La Isleta del Moro, a marine enclave where you can taste good fish in Cabo de Gata, owes its name to one of the rocks that mark its beach, slightly separated from the coast.

14.30. Rich fish in La Isleta

We can recharge our batteries in the Rodalquilar itself, with the elaborate and innovative cuisine of Gold and Light (10). It has a vegan menu and a terrace where, with the permission of the wind that blows so many days, it is wonderful. Or with the traditional fish curd that they prepare in the Municipal Center for the Third Age (11) (696 63 39 31) from the neighboring town of La Isleta del Moro, one of the best preserved, less touristy and most authentic on this coast.

16.00. Echoes of a golden decade

A quiet after-meal plan is to walk around the Molata trail (12), which goes from Playazo de Rodalquilar to Cala del Cuervo bordering yellow sandstone cliffs studded with marine fossils. Nooks to take a nap lulled by the sea are not lacking. Going and coming back along the same path (well signposted) takes an hour and a half. Another even calmer plan, so much so that you don’t even need to get out of the car, is to admire the Rodalquilar mines (13), which are chaired by the ghostly skeleton of the Denver plant, where from 1956 to 1966 3,830 kilos of gold were processed. The road to the mines, dirt but in perfect condition, leads through these hills drilled into the Cortijo del Fraile (14), where in 1928 the events that inspired Lorca his Blood Wedding. Further on is Apricots (15), Nijareña district in which about twenty of spaghetti westerns. There continues, for example, the era that served as the circular set of the last duel of The dead had a price.

18.00. Sunset for instagramers

In Nijar Cactus you can see and buy 300 varieties of the plants that are best adapted to this arid climate. Also on the outskirts of this town there is a butterfly farm that only opens its wings like a lepidopteran in spring and summer. The ones we will see all year round are the flamingos (between 250 and 5,000) that bustle in the salt flats of Cabo de Gata (16). Very close, in the extreme southeastern corner of Spain, since 1863 the Cabo de Gata Lighthouse (17). The sunsets draw here every afternoon instagramers and postcard photographers.

21.00. An inn from 1880

A good option for a snack dinner in the town of Nijar is Black Leg (18) (655 83 86 37). Very rich crumbs and cuttlefish. And to stay, Carmen’s Inn (19) (687 26 04 17), which was already such, a posada, in 1880. If we prefer a more country experience, we will go to the rural hotel Cortijo La Alberca (20) (678 84 12 48), next to the Huebro ravine, where we will see the water run, jump and backwater everywhere.

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