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A trip to Spain's lavender fields in Guadalajara

Tourists on a guided tour of the lavender fields of Brihuega.
Tourists on a guided tour of the lavender fields of Brihuega. / EFE
  • Summer is the blooming season for lavender whose marvellously smelling flower has been used in aromatherapy for centuries. There's still time to take a trip to Spain's violet-purple fields

For many, lavender fields are associated with the French region of Provence, while for many Brits, lavender might be an exclusive attribute of the Norfolk coast. However, fields with this powerfully aromatic flowering herb are evident throughout Spain.

Castile and León belongs to the significant Spanish lavender producing regions having about 150 hectares of lavender field spread between the provinces of Palencia and Valladolid. In Murcia, soils of the region of Moratalla are also covered with huge violet blankets of lavender. In Castilla-La Mancha, lavender is grown in Campo de Montiel in Albacete province, but it is the renowned Brihuega (Guadalajara province) that is home to 10 per cent of the world's lavender crop.

Brihuega and Loewe

Brihuega is considered the capital of the Spanish lavender industry, processing around two tonnes of lavender a day. Together with two other villages, Almadrones and Cogollor, also located in Guadalajara province, it forms a violet-purple triangle covered with over 2,000 hectares of lavender.

Álvaro Mayoral is recognised as the pioneer of Spain's lavender. In the 60s, his village experienced a bleak agricultural situation and inhabitants started migrating to bigger towns. Álvaro went to France, but soon came back with lavender and the idea to plant it on his fields. It turned out that Brihuega's agricultural conditions are ideal for cultivating and harvesting the herb.

However, larger-scale lavender production was launched by another Brihuega farmer - Andrés Corral. Forty years ago, Andrés convinced his three brothers to begin to share his venture and allocate 600 hectares for lavender and 'lavandín', (a hybrid of lavender and the local wild variant 'espliego').

Nowadays, about half the world's countries buy Guadalajara lavender. The Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe remains their oldest and main client deriving many of its perfumes from Brihuega's aroma. Actually, it was Loewe's perfumer, Emilio Valeros, who started teaching locals how to distil lavender and turn it into essential oils.

Every July, Brihuega organises a festival in honour of its lavender. The Festival de La Lavanda was launched 10 years ago by a lavender field owner. It became not only popular but eventually also multifaceted - from an ambience full of aromas and a market of local production made of lavender, to a musical and gastronomical experience.

Highlights of the festival include special concerts usually held in the middle of the flowering fields on the road that leads from Brihuega to Olmeda del Extremo. This year some events have been cancelled due to the pandemic, although guided tours have been organised to the lavender fields, as well as hot air balloon rides above the colourful countryside and concerts in the town.

For those wanting to see lavender fields closer to home, there is one spot near Carmona in Seville province. Three years ago, Finca Las Coronas added violet-purple to its colourful carpet made of different crops.

Moreover, throughout Andalucía you can find wild lavender growing in the dry, rocky landscape. Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) has a long stem displaying a spike of purple-blue flowers.