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.
La Calahorra village
While in the area don’t miss a short stroll among La Calahorra streets. It’s nothing spectacular, but you’ll get a chance to admire Calahorra Castle from many spots. The most interesting spot is the village main square, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where you’ll find the Town Hall building, village church – Parroquia de la Anunciación, and a fountain. You’ll also find a human-sized sculpture of the hero from Assasins Creed near the church.
Cascamorras Festival in Guadix & Baza
If you’ll be in the Guadix area between 6-9th September you’ll have an amazing opportunity to see or maybe even take part in the Cascamorras Festival. This very unique event celebrates the tradition of the “Cascamorras” or “Dirty Face”, where a man covered in oil tries to capture a statue of the Virgin Mary from the town of Baza, which is then paraded through the streets of Guadix. The festival has been declared a Festival of National Tourist Interest.
To learn more about this fascinating festival and see some photos and videos please visit andalucia.com website.
Legend of Cascamorras
Here’s one, most accepted version of the Legend of Cascamorras (source: andalucia.com)
When a workman from Guadix nicknamed Cascamorras was building a church on the site of a mozarabe temple, he found a sacred image of the Virgen de la Piedad (Our Lady of Mercy) buried in the ground. Both Baza and Guadix claimed the find as their own. The tribunals decided that the image should remain in Baza, except one day a year when it could be taken to Guadix, but it seems that neither town trusted the practicalities of this decision.
Either before or after the tribunal’s decision, the workman and his fellows from Guadix attempted to take the virgin back to their town, but the people from Baza snatched it back. When Cascamorras returned to Guadix empty-handed, the deeply disappointed villagers castigated Cascomorras and continued to pray to ‘their’ Virgin who was located in the other town.
Baza declared that on the saint’s day, if a nominated person from Guadix was able to reach the Virgin remaining clean, he could keep it for Guadix. Each year the Cascamorras tries to fulfill the pledge, but to this day has never succeeded due to being pelted with eggs and flour and olive oil.
How to get to Guadix, Spain?
Guadix is located about 55km from Granada, 110km from Almeria, and 170km from Malaga. The most convenient way to get to Guadix is by car or by bus.
Where to park in Guadix?
If you’re traveling by car you can choose from many parking lots in the city. We left our car in this parking lot for free, located only about 5min from Guadix Cathedral and 20min from the cave houses neighborhood.
Airports near Guadix, Spain
The closest airports to Guadix are located in Granada (70km away) and in Malaga (180km away). Both airports offer bus or bus+train connections with Guadix. To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Guadix by train
Guadix has a train station so you can get there easily by train from cities like Almeria, Granada or Malaga. You can check out a map of available connections on acprail.com. For example, a journey from Almeria will last about 1h15min (€15-19), from Granada 1h 40min (€9-12) and 4h from Malaga (€23-29). To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Guadix by bus
From many places you can also reach Guadix by bus. For example, a trip from Almeria will take about 1.5h (€7-23), from Granada 45min (€5-13), and 3h from Malaga (€15-40). Most routes are operated by the ALSA bus service, so you can also check available connections on the ALSA website.
Guadix, Caves And Troglodytes’ Houses In Andalusia – Summing Up
It’s a truly spectacular and unique place on the Spanish map, right? Guadix caves and troglodytes’ houses sure will take you on the trip to another planet. Or to the desert version of Tolkien’s Hobbiton, as we like to call it. Guadix’s old town also lacks nothing, and you can simply spend hours there. So if you’ll be traveling near Almeria or Granada – be sure to add Guadix to your bucket list – you won’t regret it.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Guadix?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Guadix:
Where to sleep in Guadix?
Casa Cueva Los Mosaicos
Casa Cueva Los Mosaicos is a unique cave house located in Guadix. This traditional Andalusian home has been carved into the rock, providing guests with a cool and comfortable retreat from the heat. The house features a fully equipped kitchen, a cozy living room, and two bedrooms, making it an ideal place for a family or group of friends to stay while exploring the region's rich history and stunning scenery.
Cueva de Manuela
Cueva de Manuela is a charming cave house located in Guadix. The cave house features rustic decor and modern amenities, including a fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and landscapes from the terrace or explore the nearby cave dwellings and historic landmarks.
Cuevas de Maria
Cuevas de Maria is a unique accommodation option in Guadix as it offers cave houses that have been converted into comfortable and modern guest rooms. The property is situated in a beautiful natural setting with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Guests can enjoy the peace and tranquility of this secluded location while still being within easy reach of Guadix town center and its attractions.
YIT Abentofail is a charming 3-star hotel located in the historic center of Guadix. The hotel is housed in a beautifully restored 16th-century building that features a traditional Andalusian patio. Each room is uniquely decorated with rustic elements and equipped with modern amenities, including air conditioning and free Wi-Fi.
La Fonda del Arco
La Fonda del Arco is a charming apartment guesthouse located in the heart of Guadix. It features a balcony with great city views, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and a lift. The apartment boasts one bedroom, a living room, and a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave and coffee machine. Apartment central location makes it an ideal base for exploring the city.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com