Exploring Andalucia has been a pet project lasting (so far) seven years. My first exposure to the concept of Andalucia came from a song by sometime Velvet Underground member John Cale, “Andalucia” on the album Paris 1919. It’s a wonderful song and it’s a theme Cale returned to several times in his career. It seeped into my consciousness and it’s a testament to the vision of the songwriter that when I eventually visited, it seemed more like a homecoming.
I’m currently based in Orgiva, a small working town in the valley between the Sierra Lujar and the Alpujarras. To the North is Granada and over the Sierra Lujar, the coast. This post is the first of a series where I will hopefully showcase some of the photography I’ve done over the last seven years.
I’ve photographed the immediate area a lot, both in infrared (Andalucia in Infrared) and visible light. It’s a large area and covers a lot of different types of landscape from the mountains to the cities and the sea. There is a lot to photograph, from the famous landmarks such as the Alhambra in Granada to the slightly less well known Albaycin and Sacromente areas of the city. My own favourite area is Realejo, not least because of the Graffiti and the fact they named a square after Joe Strummer of the Clash, another musical hero.
I’m going to cover in more detail several of these areas in this series of posts. Here, I’m trying to introduce the series and give a flavour of what I’ll be showing in subsequent posts.
Exploring Andalucia: History
Andalucia has been populated for a very long time indeed. There are cave paintings in Nerja that date back to Neanderthal man. This image of the Sierra Lujar shows a trail snaking up the mountain to the old lead mines. When I say old, there have been mines on this mountain since the Phoenicians were here. It was mined by the Romans and continued to be mined until 1989. Inside the mountain, there is a honeycomb of tunnels dating back over a thousand years.
Exploring Andalucia: Graffiti in Granada
The Graffiti in the Realejo district of Granada is spectacular and deservedly renowned. Although the familiar tropes of the New York style are evident, there is also a unique grenadine style that is far more subtle, it is elaborate and consciously artistic. Check out Raul Ruiz, better known as “El Niño de las Pinturas”. It’s well worth taking the time to walk from Plaza Nueva to Placeta Joe Strummer. Much of the graffiti can be found on the roller blinds guarding shop windows, so it’s worth going out of hours. The story is that when the graffiti first started, the authorities clamped down with a vengeance but the shopkeepers were sympathetic and offered up their blinds as a showcase area that could be legally used by the artists.
Exploring Andalucia: The Costa Tropical
There are some wonderful beaches along the Costa Tropical, although they all get crowded in the summer, it’s a long way from the roasting English gammon on the Costa del Sol. This picture is taken on a commercial assignment from a property I was photographing. Perched high above the village, the view is one of the best I’ve seen, but versions of this view are common along the coast. As the tiny fishing villages became more popular there was nowhere to build but up. this trend reached its logical conclusion when a section of La Herradura was condemned due to cracks appearing in the cliff face into which houses had been built. There is some very reasonably priced property there!
Exploring Andalucia: Orgiva
Orgiva is the de facto gateway to the Alpujarras. It is a small working town nestling in a subtropical valley between the Sierra Lujar and the Alpujarras. It was home to the infamous Dragon Festival and was a stopping off point on the hippy trail to Morocco and later provided rest and recreation to various DJ’s on their way back from Ibiza. Today you can still see traces of the hippy culture in the organic shops and cafes. It is also home to the Artists’ Network Alpujarra of which I am a member!
Exploring Andalucia: La Taha
La Taha is the neighbouring valley to Orgiva. It’s extraordinarily beautiful, well worth visiting, much wilder than the Guadalfeo Valley. Also a lot more difficult to get to from Malaga, which probably explains why it is off the tourist track.
Exploring Andalucia: The White Villages
Andalucia is world-famous for its white villages, From Verja de la Frontera in the South East to Capileira in the Alpujarra, these villages are variously developed. This photograph is of Soportújar in the Alpujarras. My favourites are the three white villages in the Alpujarra, Pampaneira, Bubion and Capileira. These are a group of villages perched high up in the Barranco de Poqueira, south of Granada. They all retain the original architectural styles but in addition to the traditional industries of weaving, sherry making and farming they have developed a thriving food scene with a number of excellent restaurants. I was delighted to find what has become my favourite Indian Restaurant in Europe on the edge of the highest village, Capileira!
Exploring Andalucia – Cabo de Gata
Check out the story of the The Gold Mines of Rodalquilar, a startling tale of greed, hubris and ruin.
Check me out for updates to this post, I’ll be focusing on each of the headlines and maybe inventing a few more along the way!
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