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Orgiva is located in the centre of a plain of orchards and olive groves. Órgiva is considered the capital of the Alpujarra’s county. It is equipped with enough and renewed hotel rooms, it has good restaurants, countless bars and the leisure places.
The Órgiva district is part of the Sierra Nevada Natural Park and it is located in its Southern slope. It is nailed in the confluence of the Guadalfeo river and its affluent the Chico river. It is a commercial town that has supplied the entire region traditionally. It conjugates in its map and lifestyle modern characteristics with others that have been almost intact in the Alpujarra for centuries.
Although all the historical-monumental references seem to indicate that this one is a place of Arab foundation, the origin of Órgiva is much more remote. It has been identified with the Greek colony of Exoche, mentioned by Tolomeo.
During the Nasrid reign it took the name of Albastch, which means plain, and during several centuries it was called Albacete de Órgiva. In 1492 the Catholic Kings gave it to Boabdil as retirement place. In the Moorish revolt, during the reign of Felipe II, the tower of the house-palace of the Sástago Counts was scene of one of the most famous Christian acts. the alcaide Gaspar de Sarabia and other 160 men, women and children, resisted during 17 days in its interior the siege of the rebels commanded by Abén Farag.
The sensations that run through the traveller who visits Órgiva are diverse and mixed: that of its narrow, tortuous and steep streets, gardens, terrace roofs, low walls, terraces and old walls; that of the symmetrical modern façades, many adorned with plant pots, crates, barrels and plants bathed in the sun; that of the new mosque; that of the bustling square next to the church, the businesses and services… All of these things have fascinated strangers to these parts who have decided to make it their place of residence. Its main charm might be said to be the fact that tradition and modernity have lived side by side in perfect harmony in this capital of western Alpujarra, a title bestowed upon it by the inhabitants of this district not just because of its being the judicial headquarters, health and education district, but also due to its being the junction between communications and the crossing of the ways.
And it’s just that all the ways lead to Órgiva. One road links the town to the Costa Tropical; another, through Lanjarón, to Granada; a third, through Torvizcón, leads to La Rábita; and the last penetrates the heart of La Alpujarra Alta, heading upwards towards Pampaneira or Trevélez.
If coming from any of these directions it is best to leave one’s car in the upper part of the city, given that it is an authentic odyssey trying to park in the bustling area of Órgiva, especially in the morning. This is the case of the square named García Moreno that, with its abundant cafeterias and gentle climate, can have its terraces open all year round. From this place, not only can one guess that the cuisine is good, but that the welcome sensation of the warmth of the sun (more so in this season of the year) is multiplied by the view of the church Nuestra Señora de la Expectación, with its characteristic twin towers, the pride of the townsfolk who, popularly and amongst themselves call them hueveros (eggs).
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The façade of the Órgiva church is of Renaissance style of the Greco-Roman type. The towers, from far off, can be spotted rising up majestically from the four aforementioned roads. On the inside the people from Órgiva venerate the statue of their Saint Cristo de la Expiración, a cedar wood carving of the school of Martínez Montañés. The altarpiece of the main altar pertains to the churrigueresque Baroque period.
At the exit, heading down the street, one cannot miss the detail of the iron cross donated by Don Juan of Austria, the stepbrother of Felipe II, which crowns the church fencing and was wrought to commemorate the end of the Reconquest.
The journey continues with the Residential Palace of the Counts of Sástago, to whom the feudal estate of the town was bequeathed, as had happened previously to the sons of Muley Hacén, to Boabdil (from 1492 onwards it was the place of his retirement) or to Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, the Gran Capitán (Great Captain). Nowadays the palace, constructed in the 17th century on top of a fortified tower, has been restored and houses a modern town council.
Close by is the avenue called González Robles, where one can take a stroll amongst its abundant coppice. From here it is best to recover one’s car in the upper part of the town, but not without first visiting the curious Sala Cervantina Agustín Martín Zaragoza.