From Montefrio to Granada by Bike

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We should not leave Montefrío (nother bastion cutting off the route between Granada's Vega -fertile plain- and the Guadalquivir Valley) without taking a moment to observe on one side the peak on which stand the fortress and Iglesia de San Antonio. In tis way we will see how Islam and Christianity are both worthy on the valley which, at different times, they inhabited. We leave the city on the camino de las cruces (path of the crosses) feeling behind up the footsteps of the Abencerrads who supported Prince Ismail in his quest to reach the throne of Granada.

Soon we will pass the archaeological station of Peña de los Gitanos (Gypsies' Peak) where remains dating back to the Neolithic period have been found. In the meantime we ascend through the foothills of the Paparanda. We will arrive at the city which was the right hand of the kingdom of Granada. Illora. On the dizzy descent we will see first the olive groves fitting the cereal crops for space, and then the sight of the wide vega and almost interminable length of the Sierra Nevada (snowy mountain range) beyond. We go through what were once suburbs of the walled city of Illora and then we leave the town behind, looking to pass underneath the impressive Soto de Roma aqueduct. This is a living exmple of one of the many means used in Al-Andalus, along with waterwheels, irrigation channels, water mills, dams, sluices and other architectural devices, in the battle to supply this fertile land with precious water.

The geometric formations of olive groves on the western hills gradually give way to islands of poplar trees on our way to Escóznar, Valderrubio and Fuentevaqueros. We pass the Fuente (fontain) de la Teja, hidden in a poplar grove, where a young Federico García Lorca would go and whisper into the air of the vega.

In search of this very secret we soon come across the Torre de Roma, a splendid medieval defensive structure which would give refuge to the inhabitants of the areas against the frecuent Castillian incursions and which gives us a point of reference from which to arrive at Chauchaina and its narrow streets .where there were once farmsteads, noe there are tobacco drying sheds and their workers' houses; where once the water carried murmured conspiracies and offerings of myrtle down the irrigation channels, now they are forgotten streams that silently bring life and economic prosperity to the region.

Following the gentle course of the river, we descend through the Vega, passing Jau and, noticing the continuous repetition of crops and poplar groves, we arrive at the former location of the Ojos (eyes) of Huecar, where the Monarchs of Castille and Aragón founded the city of Santa Fe on the site of the Goxo farmstead. We enter crossing the Puerta (Gateway) de Loja and exit through the Puerta de Granada, which along with those of Seville and Jaen, form the cardinal points of this geometrically laid out the village, born out of the Royal ambition to reconquer the last territories of the Nazrid Kingdom and which forms an ever-lasting symbol of the surrender which subdued forever the words of Ibn - Sära: "Men's eye turn towards Granada because it is a garden which spreads out its flowers an undulating cloak. One might say that October or November are like April because its hills are covered in roses and reeds. After the nigth clouds, whose small, dense tears look like pearls, you will give in to the madness in these currents of water which call to mind the breast of a beautiful woman, her blouse opened by her own fingers."

We continue through the poplar groves of Santa Fe and, having crossed the Puente (bridge) de los Vados, we proceed, parallel to the Genil river, drawn on by the three hills which lift the city up towards the heavens and by three towers (of Vela, San Nicolás and the Cathedral) which form a golden triangle. Penetrating this triangle will give us the sensation that we have travelled this road before.

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