Welcome to Guadix, one of the most unique places you’ll see in your entire life. Desert Hobbiton with hundreds of troglodytes living underground in cave houses, and an old town with an amazing vibe. Add to that stunning, out-of-this-world landscapes with snow-capped mountain peaks of Sierra Nevada in the background and you’ll wonder if you’re still on planet Earth. In this post, we’ll take you on an amazing trip to Guadix caves and troglodytes’ houses, as well as through the town itself. Ready to discover one of the most unique and beautiful towns in Spain? Vamos amigos!
As for now, Guadix is considered an Andalusian hidden gem or off-beaten track destination. The town is mostly known to Spanish people and is relatively unknown to tourists, thanks to what you won’t come across huge crowds there. Guadix is a great destination for a one-day trip from cities like Almeria or Granada, but also a place where you can stay longer and immerse yourself in the unique cave-living experience.
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Guadix Caves And Troglodytes’ Houses In Andalusia, Spain
Wondering how we discovered Guadix? When we were driving from Northern Spain to Almeria, we suddenly were passing through a very unique-looking place… From the highway, we could only see white chimneys sticking out the rocks, whitewashed doors with some decorations or flowers in front of them, and dozens of empty, probably abandoned similar structures. It definitely looked like some people were living there currently or at some point in the past.
We were wondering where the windows and the rest of the houses are and who lives there. Homeless people? Gypsies? Didn’t really look like that. Until the next day, we were thinking about this mysterious place. Then we finally found some time to research it and it turned out that we saw some of the many Guadix caves and troglodytes’ houses in Andalusia. We knew right away that we would soon come back to Guadix and explore this truly fascinating place. And we did.
Guadix, Spain FAQ
Guadix is a small town located in Andalusia in the province of Granada in southern Spain. The town sits at an altitude of 913m a.s.l in the center of the Hoya of Guadix – a high plain at the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Guadix was built near gullies and badlands.
Guadix is most famous for its cave houses neighborhood, Barrio de las Cuevas, which is home to the largest number of troglodyte houses in the whole of Europe where few thousands of people live. It’s also one of the oldest towns in Spain that has been inhabited for centuries.
Without a doubt number one attraction in Guadix is Barrio de las Cuevas where you can admire about 2000 cave houses, in which about 3000-4000 people live. There you also find spectacular viewpoints from which you can admire the town and its surroundings. Other Guadix attractions include its old town with points of interest like the Cathedral, Alcazaba, ruins of Teatro Romano, Plaza de la Constitucion, or stunning viewpoint – Mirador de la Magdalena.
Guadix cave houses can boast one amazing feature: the temperature inside them is around 18-20°C day and night, all year round. In the beginning, people decided to build their homes underground to escape the summer heat. Nowadays, it has become trendy thanks to low energy consumption and eco-friendliness.
Spanish pronunciation of Guadix is [ɡwaˈðiks]. Here you can listen to this pronunciation.
Things to do in Guadix Cave Houses Neighbourhood
About Guadix Cave Houses Neighbourhood
Seeing Guadix Cave Houses Neighborhood (es. Barrio de las Cuevas) without a doubt is the best thing to do in Guadix. It’s a truly unique and fascinating area where thousands of people, known as troglodytes, live in about 2000 underground cave houses. Currently, Guadix is home to the largest number of troglodyte houses in the whole of Europe!
If you’re wondering – it isn’t some strange whim of the present times! In Guadix people have been living underground for hundreds of years! Most caves date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, but some of the oldest ones are believed to be built around 1000 years ago, in early Moorish times. According to history, when in 1492 catholic monarchs regained control of Andalusia lots of Moors fled to the town of Guadix and its surroundings. More of them arrived in the area between 1568-1571 during the Rebellion of the Alpujarras. But the problem was that they had nowhere to live. So many of them decided to build their homes underground.
Living in caves in the past & nowadays
Why did people decide to build their homes in caves in the first place? The answer is simple: to escape the heat. You see, in cave houses, the temperature is constant (18-20°C) all year round, regardless of the outside conditions. Definitely understandable for ancient times without air conditioning.
But why do people want to live in the caves now? We’ve heard sustainability as a main argument but aren’t really convinced by it. Even though 21st-century cave houses look inside like normal houses, and are connected to modern amenities like electricity, water, or Internet they still lack sunlight and external sounds like the sound of the wind or the birds. For us, they seemed to be quite depressing and claustrophobic. But apparently, some find it quite the opposite. In the Cave Interpretation Centre, the guide told us that not long ago, around the 1990s, caves cost only about €3-5k so we imagine that for most people it was just a cheap option to get a home. Now they cost about €60k and are just a great investment for hotels or apartments for rent.
One more thing! Don’t worry that you’ll miss the troglodyte houses. Their whitewashed doors definitely stand out from the surroundings and can’t be missed. But sometimes the only thing that marks a troglodyte cave house is a white tall chimney coming out of the ground – so keep your eyes on them too!
Cave Interpretation Center
While in the Guadix cave houses neighborhood visit Cave Interpretation Centre (es. Cueva Museo Centro de Interpretación Cuevas de Guadix). It’s a small but very informative museum with lots of interactive displays located in a cave. There you’ll learn about the history of cave houses and troglodytes, as well as you’ll have a chance to get a glimpse of how it would be to live in a cave. You’ll see rooms like a bedroom, kitchen, pantry, workshop, or even pigsty (as the animals lived inside with the families).
Entrance to Cave Interpretation Center costs €2.6 for adults and you can pay only by cash (May 2023). For current prices and opening hours please visit museum official website.
Parish Church of Our Lady of Grace
Opposite the Cave Interpretation Center, you’ll find an inconspicuous-looking church, Parish Church of Our Lady of Grace (es. Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Gracia). When you enter inside it’ll still look like a regular church at first glance. To see what it hides you need to approach the altar and then turn right. There you’ll find a corridor from which you’ll be able to explore the back of the church, which is… a cave shrine and a cave house. Walk around them, get lost, and discover all nooks and crannies. Entrance to the Church of Our Lady of Grace is free.
Viewpoint: Mirador Padre Poveda
Just a few steps from the Cave Interpretation Center and Church of Our Lady of Grace you’ll find the Mirador Padre Poveda viewpoint. From it, you’ll have quite a nice view over the cave houses, as well as Guadix and its surroundings.
Viewpoint: Mirador del Cerro de la Bala
In our opinion, Mirador del Cerro de la Bala viewpoint offers much better views than Mirador Padre Poveda. From it, you can see panoramic views over the caves neighborhood, Guadix and its surroundings, and Sierra Nevada mountains. By seeing all of that you’ll be definitely wondering what planet you’re on right now… Truly amazing and breathtaking.
Mirador del Cerro de la Bala is located about 15min by foot from Cave Interpretation Center. There is only one sign near the center pointing the way, and the rest of it wasn’t well signed. We just advise you to follow Google Maps instructions, and you’ll safely get there.
Things to do in Guadix Old Town
Gaudix has a lot more to offer than just caves and troglodytes’ houses. Guadix’s old town can boast an amazing vibe, and strolling around its streets is a pure pleasure. It isn’t too big, but it’s very easy to spend a few hours there. You’ll find a few points of interest like Guadix Cathedral, Plaza de la Constitucion, Alcazaba, ruins of the Roman Theater, and some lovely viewpoints like Mirador de la Magdalena.
Guadix Cathedral (es. Catedral de la Encarnación de Guadix) is a Catholic church which tall bell tower dominates the city skyline. The building we can see today was built between the 16th and 18th centuries on the remains of a Moorish mosque, which itself was built on top of an older temple. Due to the fact that it was built over almost three centuries, Guadix Cathedral combines different styles – Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.
We’ve read that the Cathedral interior is quite spectacular too with huge paintings behind the altar and great views over the city from the bell tower. Unfortunately, when we arrived the cathedral was closed so we didn’t have a chance to see it with our own eyes.
There are several entrance options, the basic one with climbing the tower costs €5 for adults (May 2023). For more options, current prices and opening hours please visit catedraldeguadix.es website. You can also buy tickets online.
Plaza de la Constitucion
Just a few steps from Guadix Cathedral you’ll find Guadix’s main square – Plaza de la Constitucion. It’s a very lovely square surrounded by buildings with arcaded arches, perfect for a quick break with a cup of coffee. There you’ll also find Town Hall and Tourist Office where you can pick up a city map and lots of advice for sightseeing.
Mirador de la Magdalena
Mirador de la Magdalena is a stunning viewpoint located in Guadix Old Town on a small hill. From there you’ll get fantastic 360-degree views of the town and its surroundings, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and even a cave houses neighborhood. Watch closely and you’ll spot some troglodyte’s houses and their chimneys in close proximity to you too.
Alcazaba de Guadix
Alcazaba de Guadix was built in the 11th century by the Moors on the top of the hill, and together with Cathedral dominates the city skyline. When we visited it was closed for renovations, so we didn’t get a chance to see what it hides inside (May 2023). We can only imagine that great panoramic views are stretching from it. Alcazaba de Guadix has been declared a National Monument.
Ruins of Roman Theater
Guadix is one of the Spanish oldest settlements with the first people living in the area around the Stone Age. The town itself was founded by the Romans and was an important Roman colony, named Julia Gemella Acci. It’s believed that Roman Theater was built around 45BC under the rule of Tiberius. It was used during the 1st and 2nd centuries and then was abandoned. Later on, its architectural elements were reused for other purposes like building Alcazaba by the Moors.
It’s very interesting that the ruins of the Roman Theater were discovered accidentally only in 2007! They are located just behind the Guadix Cathedral and can be seen for free.
Things to do near Guadix, Spain
Calahorra Castle (es. Castillo de La Calahorra) is located in La Calahorra village, on the foot of Sierra Nevada mountains at 1250m a.s.l, just 20km from Guadix. This impressive castle was built between 1509 and 1512 and is the first Italian Renaissance castle that was built outside Italy. It was declared a National Monument.
Believe us, it’s an extremely picture-worthy spot. Calahorra Castle looks very impressive both from afar (with Sierra Nevada mountains as a backdrop) and from up close. Also, the views from the castle hill alone are breathtaking. For us, Calahorra Castle looked like it was pulled out straight from the Age of Empires II game. No wonder it was used in some movies and tv series, like Assassins Creed, Stardust or House of the Dragon.
Currently, Calahorra Castle is in private hands and is open only once a week, on Wednesdays between 10AM-4PM. For €3.50 you can go on a guided tour, available only in Spanish. To get there you can leave your car in the village and go on a short walk uphill or try to get there via an unpaved road uphill.