Alhama de Granada
Alhama de Granada is a beautiful, ancient spa town set at about 900m in rolling hills and surrounded by mountain ranges. The town, of around 6,500 inhabitants, runs along one side of a deep gorge at the bottom of which runs the Rio Alhama. People have settled here since Neolithic times and there is evidence of Roman remains in the gorge as well as Moorish irrigation channels and the ruins of the 20th century flour mills. The Moors arrived in the 8th century and reigned until Alhama fell to the Catholic monarchs in 1482. In the old Arab Quarter there is much to see of Alhama's Moorish past in the carvings and design of compact village houses with inner courtyards.The medieval Church of the Encarnacion was built on the grounds of the Great Mosque and its imposing silhouette stands proud of the town. The museum inside the church houses a priest's vestment hand-embroidered by Queen Isabella. Other historical and architectural highlights include a Roman bridge, the pink-walled Moorish fortress, the gothic Inquisition House, the 13th century Il Posito (the old synagogue) and the Renaissance Hospital of La Reina. West of the steep and narrow streets of the Arab district the town's character changes and there are many fine townhouses and two pretty squares where Spanish families promenade in the pleasant coolness of the mountain evenings.
Around the squares there are lots of lively bars and restaurants serving local cuisine, all with outdoor seating in the summer months. Enjoying complimentary tapas with your drink is a great local tradition and there's lots of choice. Typically, you could be served crusty bread with the local cured ham or cheese, grilled mushrooms with garlic, slices of pork or lamb with mayonnaise served in a little bun, langoustines, calamares and monkfish, olives, spanish tortilla - the list is endless!
Alhama is a great town for strolling around as there is lots to enjoy in the traditional whitewashed houses with their terracotta tiled roofs and shaded terraces. Often you can hear the trickle of running water from the many fountains, sounds of flamenco drifting down from balconies and catch glimpses of the beautiful pastel shades of the landscape beyond the town.
In the new part of town, La Joya, there is an outdoor swimming pool with a little bar and pleasant grassed and shaded area which is open in the summer months – a perfect spot for relaxing after a heavy day’s sightseeing!
Also in this part of town there is a bustling market every Friday. You can pick up local crafts such as pottery, basketware and embroidered or crocheted goods. To stock up for your stay you'll find a great choice of fresh fruit and vegetables, all of which is grown locally.
The name Alhama comes from al-hamman which means ‘hot springs’ in Arabic. Just outside of town there are four hot pools nestled next to the Rio Merchan under shady trees which are available for anyone to use day or night. The thermal springs have been channelled into therapeutic baths since Roman times and you can visit the famous spa with it’s Muslim horse-shoe shaped arch and book a massage or treatment while the Hotel Balneario is open between April to October each year.
There are plenty of flights from all over Europe to Malaga Airport which is about one hour 15 minutes drive from Alhama. However, if you're concerned about fuel emissions and want to take a more leisurely trip across Europe then the train is a great option. You could combine your stay in rural Andalucia with stopovers in some of the greatest cities of Europe - Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Granada or Malaga. Getting to Alhama from Granada or Malaga is straightforward with local buses (Alsa.es), or you can arrange with us for someone to pick you up and bring you to Alhama. You could hire a car in either city and then have a car for the rest of your trip. If you decide to holiday without a car there are plenty of choices of places to go locally either on foot, by bicycle or bus. You can make day or overnight trips to Granada (three buses a day from Alhama), or take the bus to the coast or Malaga (a trip to Malaga is probably too much to do in one day but makes a great overnight trip). Alhama is blessed with lots of lovely walking routes surrounding the town and the countryside is ideal for birdwatching, walking/hiking, painting, photography and cycling. We can put you in touch with people locally who hire out bikes, and offer detailed walking or cycling routes and accompanied tours. For ideas/information, train routes, timetables and booking tickets: Spanish-rail, Seat61 and raileurope. For Car Hire we recommend MalagaCar - local company, great prices, and airport pick up - no queues!