Saturday, 14 April 2012

Moorish Castles

I was out with clients from the UK over the Easter week and as ever it rained which always seems to be the way for Semana Santa. We did however manage to get some great walking in and as my clients didn’t particularly want to just get into the high mountains I was able to take them around some of the better low level walks in the area thus avoiding the worst of the forecasted rain and doing some great walks as well. During a couple of the days the routes led us by or even through the ruins of Moorish castles which reminded me of the number of such ruins to be found in the lower hills and mountains of the area.

One of the best examples that I know of and which we included in a walk last week is the castle above the village of Guajar Faraguit in the Los Guajares valley which runs west off the Granada/Motril motorway. The castle is easy enough to locate as it is well signed out of the village. The route descends the valley side to cross the Rio Toba before a steep ascent on a good path through terraces covered in orange trees. After climbing for about twenty minutes you reach a fairly narrow ridge about 100m above the river which has the castle ruin perched at its eastern end. It is clear as you peer back down the steep slope on three sides of the castle, that this makes a fantastic defensive position. Protected by some basic earthworks across the ridge and four towers around its walls walls, the complex was made up of a group of about a dozen small buildings and food stores within its walls. There is even an aljibe (water tank) with an acequia leading to it across a mini aqueduct built along the ridge. The site is reminiscent of a small well defended hamlet than a castle and it’s easy to imagine people from the surrounding area gathered here in order to protect themselves and their families from enemies.

Unlike some of the stone built castles in the area, such as the one in Lanjaron, this castle is made from a very early type of concrete. It is clear, looking at the walls, that some type of scaffolding and a former were used to allow the material to be held in place as it set, creating a wall in places about a meter thick and probably 4-5 meters high at the towers. The ‘interior’ walls of the buildings also seemed to have had some form of render which even at this age was smoother than the inside of my cortijo!