Níjar has a distinct Moorish feel about it with its narrow streets and whitewashed houses. It lies in the foothills of the Sierra Alhamilla and is popular with tourists who make the short excursion from coastal towns like Roquetas de Mar and Mojácar. They mainly visit in order to purchase the attractive and unusual glazed pottery. That is what Níjar is famous for – pottery. And carpets!
There are many pottery shops, some with thousands of pieces on display ranging from ashtrays to large planters and decorative lampshades. The most characteristic of the area is the blue and green pottery, produced from clay and marl with a kaolin coating. The other handicraft most typical of Níjar is the manufacture of jarapas – colourful cotton and wool rugs and blankets.
There are many other hand-made items on sale in the shops: leather ware, jewellery, decorative ironwork, furniture as well as edible items such as honey, cakes and wine. Soaps, candles and many other items made from natural products can also be obtained in Níjar.
I find the town a pleasant place to stroll. The high street is attractive with its many shops and bars and there are quaint narrow cobbled streets with the traditional whitewashed houses so typical of Andalucía. At the top of the main thoroughfare is the town’s main square with an attractive church. The ‘Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación’ was built in the 16th century.
Probably the best time to visit Níjar is in the evening when most of the tourists have gone. Many of them would have combined a trip to Níjar with a visit to the nearby Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, so the town is quite empty in the afternoon too but, at that time of day, many of the shops are closed – the shopkeepers are taking their siesta!
Just outside the town is El Hoyazo, a volcanic crater. I once spent a hot and dusty but, nevertheless, enjoyable hour collecting garnets there. Unfortunately the stones were a bit on the small side!