From the first sight, the city of Guadix in southern Spain looks like any other small Andalusian town, with white houses and charming, cute plazas. But as soon as you climb to the top of the hill you will see a rather strange landscape.
In the deep valley you will notice small white chimneys popping out here and there, and front doors which seem to be cut in the rocks, like Hobbit homes.
Here, at the Barrio de Cuevas or in other words Neighborhood of Caves most of the people live underground. These houses are known as trogloditas and locals have been inhabiting them for hundreds of years.
The locals of this neighborhood are extremely polite and friendly, so don’t be surprised if they invite you to have a look inside their home. Though many people think the caves are dark and dirty, these trogloditas are nothing like that. You might encounter the terracotta farm style kitchen, rustic but with dried red peppers, onions and garlic hanging from the walls and ceilings.
The walls of these houses are decorated with religious icons and other cultural artworks. Plus the size of these so called caves is enormous. You might see the traditional Flamenco dresses hanging as decoration, still remaining a big part of culture in Andalusia. Some of such caves reach the age of 500 years old, but of course with regular renovations, adding some modern appliances and furniture.
In this neighborhood most of the buildings are located underground, including the public places as well, like church or Interpretation Center. The area is known as one of the Europe’s oldest settlements dating back to the Stone age, while the main town was founded by the Romans to mine silver from the nearby hills. During the Moorish times, Guadix used to be an important trade city as it was just in the middle of the way between the city of Granada and the sea. During the times when catholic monks were taking over the area, many of the Moors moved away and found their home in the mountains including the town of Guadix. But as there was no place to live in, they decided to build houses underground, mainly to hide from the heat.
Few decades ago these underground houses were considered the homes for poor, as more modern houses started to appear. But nowadays, they become popular again and many of the locals turn their former grottoes into hotels, restaurants and even rentals. Unique experience, why not?