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There are around 2,000 cave houses in Guadix. Junta de Andalucía
Guadix: The water of life between the caves
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Guadix: The water of life between the caves

During Roman times the town was called Acci which became Wadi Ashi during the Islamic period before a phonetic change to its modern name

Jennie Rhodes

Guadix

Friday, 17 May 2024

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Considered the European Cave Capital, Guadix in Granada province is home to more than 2000 inhabited underground dwellings. Residents enjoy all the comforts of a modern home as well as the benefits of living in this natural environment such as a constant temperature of between 18 and 20ºC, helping to save on energy bills, and the tranquillity and silence provided by the clay insulation of the walls.

Guadix, and indeed the first evidence of cave dwellers in the area, date back to prehistoric times when the troglodyte tribes decided to protect and isolate themselves in this kind of natural shelter.

However, the name Guadix has nothing to do with its famous caves. Instead it is believed to come from the Roman name Acci, after which the town's secondary school is named. Evidence that the area was inhabited during Roman times can be found in the discovery of a Roman theatre in 2007 on land where an underground car park was being built.

During the Islamic period it was given the Arabic version of this name: Wadi Ashi, meaning the water of life. This later became Wadi Ish and then eventually Guadix, with the 'W' sound in Spanish similar to that of a silent 'G'. During the Islamic period the town was an important part of the Kingdom of Granada.

The Caves of Guadix neighbourhood was established around the middle of the 15th century, just before the Catholic Monarchs took Granada. Muslims living there area saw the idea of taking refuge in caves dug out of the mountains as a way of remaining in the area.

The builders of the caves, the 'picaores' used an ancestral technique to dig the caves so that between the door, the window and the chimney, a draught was created to keep the cave ventilated at all times. The outlet for smoke from the fire is provided via chimneys built on the mounds which give the landscape its iconic appearance.

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