by Robert Bovington
Capileira, at 1436 metres, is the highest of the three Alpujarran villages in the Poqueira valley. Like the other settlements in the Alpujarra, it has narrow streets and its houses have been adapted to the needs of the steep terrain and the local climate – they are whitewashed, have flat roofs and are reminiscent of the architecture of North Africa.
In the centre of the village there is a museum that displays the arts and popular customs of the Alpujarra. There is also an 18th century church – the Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María la Mayor.
However, most people who visit Capileira do so in order to walk – Capiliera is a centre for walking and for accessing the mountains especially Mulhacén which is generally treated as a two-day climb from Capileira with an overnight stop at a mountain refuge en route. Well, they can’t drive that way! The Sierra Nevada Highway used to run through Capileira and out across the Sierra Nevada towards the city of Granada. However, motor traffic is no longer permitted beyond Capileira.
If you do decide to walk in the Sierra Nevada, take care – in 2004 some experienced British walkers lost their lives when the weather changed for the worse! Personally, I would only walk up there in the summer – at those altitudes it is bloody cold! In any case, I prefer to walk between the villages of the Poqueira Gorge. Pampaneira to Capileira via Bubión is a pleasant walk.