Bubión and Capileira. SUR
The Alpujarra: A quarrelsome land in the mountains

The Alpujarra: A quarrelsome land in the mountains

The area is made up of a series of 25 picturesque white villages in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada

Friday, 13 October 2023, 16:41


There are several theories about the origin of the name Alpujarra, the series of 25 villages in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Granada province, as well as a neighbouring area across the border in Almeria. One of the most important is that it comes from early Muslim settlers in the area who called it al-Bujarra.

However, in his 1860 work Description of the Kingdom of Granada under the Nasrids, the historian Simonet argues that the word is a derivation of 'Albuxarrat' which translates as Sierra Blanca or Sierra Nevada.

Other theories suggest that the Alpujarra is derived from the Arabic al-Bugscharra, which could be translated as 'the land of grass' or 'the land of pastures'. Pedro Antonio de Alarcón travelled through the region and wrote a book published in 1874 in which he gives four possibilities. Quoting Luis de Mármol, Alarcón says that the word comes from the Arabic "abuxarra" meaning 'the quarrelsome'.

Alarcón's second hypothesis comes from Miguel Lafuente Alcántara, who adds that the Arabic word 'abuxarra' also means 'indomitable'. A third opinion on the origin of the name comes from the Arabic historian Suar el-Kaicí who argued that Alpujarra comes from the Arabic 'Albordjela', meaning 'the fortified'.

As for individual villages, Órgiva was identified as the Greek colony of "Exoche" by the geographer Ptolemy. Its most likely origin is a hybrid of the Latin 'hortus' and the Iberian ibar 'river', so together, 'the river orchard'.

The first written references to the town appear in the writings of al-Udri in the 10th century and al-Idrisi, in the 12th century, under the names of Yuz Aryuba and Hisn Orgiva respectively, as an administrative district and a castle.

Bubión's name appears to come from the Latin root bull- (to boil). In a document dating back to 1514 it is called Bulión, which means a small fountain or spring in which the water gushes out. The name Capileira comes from the Latin Capillaria, which means scalp, referring to the high altitude of the village.

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