Self catering and walking holidays
Self catering and walking holidays
Cortijo Opazo
Cortijo Opazo 

A day trip to Velez de Benaudalla

Osaka, dachshund resident at Cortijo Opazo and author of this blog

There is something very calming about visiting a garden, although I sometimes think my owners are obssesed with the concept.  No sooner did they recover from the first Open Gardens Andalucia charity event on May 27th and 28th then they were packing us into the car and taking us out on a visit of our own.

Velez de Benaudalla, as seen from the castle viewing point

The afore mention weekend did, though, go very well.  We had no idea of what to expect since, although a relatively common event in the UK, the idea of opening a private garden to visitors is still a rather rare occurence here in Andalucia.  But the sun shone and the visitors turned up to marvel at three different gardens, all looking at their best.  We had food, music, demonstrations and afternoon tea.   Read more about it here, if you are interested - Open Gardens Andalucia at Jardín Alpujarra

Some pictures from Jardín de la Alpujarra at Cortijo Opazo

Taken in the garden during the Open Gardens Andalucia charity event

Music from La Ley de Murphy

But as I was saying, no sooner had we all caught up on missing sleep from this event, then we were off to another.  In the town called Velez de Benaudalla (yes, it is hard to pronounce) there is another small scale garden that is open to visitors, El Jardín Nazarí.  This is owned by the local town hall and the staff there actually get paid for tending the gardens and selling tickets - now there is a good idea, I must bring it up at the next board meeting. For the very fair price of €3,00 you gain entrance to what was once the garden of an old Moorish Palace, and, apart from the Generalife at the Alhmabra Palace in Granada, it is one for the few remaining preserved gardens of its type.


The lay out of the gardens itself is interesting, it is divided into sections by fast flowing channels of irrigation water and each compartment is bordered by clipped myrtle hedges.  There are areas for vegetables and others for cut flowers. There is an outdoor performance area, some decorative fountains and some extracts from poetry season the walk around the space.

Fascinating light from beneath a jasmine vine
Grand entry staircase - a bit much for my short legs!

Enchanting outdoor performance space



Many cooling water features



Perhaps what is most interesting are the hanging gardens.  These owe little to the art of humans, but have been carved out of a cliff by the action of free flowing water that seems in abundance here.  Lime accumulations have scultured shapes in the rock akin to stalagtites and stalagmites and you can view these via a rather precarious set of narrow steps that descend the cliff.  At times your way is impeded by cascading water, but on a hot summer's day this can only be refreshing.

Entrance to one of the caves in the hanging gardens
Lime formation of the hanging gardens

Along with the gardens our trip coincided with an Art Exhibition by local artists, and you can see two of my favourite featured below.  After our visit we then walked up to enjoy the views from the castle, and headed off to find somewhere for lunch.  The river that heads through the gorge is quite wide in this area and a delightful picnic spot has been created at a point where the water is shallow enough for bathing. Ella, the water baby that she is, took full advantge of the chance to swim, whilst my short dachshund legs permitted just a shallow dip.  Our human companions looked on from the deep shade of the trees growing there.


All in all, at less than one hours drive, it made a delightful day out and an interlude from our continual labours at Cortijo Opazo.  It was an inspiration in many ways and I have already heard the two tall ones discuss how they can add moving water channels to their garden at Jardín de la Alpujarra.


Watch this space.

Pretty streets leading up to the castle viewing point at Velez de Benaudalla



Fascinating roof of church in Velez de Benaudalla



Now, if you, esteemed reader, were to take the advice contained in this blog and have a day trip away from Cortijo Opazo to visit these gardens, you could continue on down to the coast of the Costa Tropical and enjoy a dip in the sea or a stroll along the sand.  Or maybe a visit to the castle at Almuñecar.  We, however, were swiftly whisked back up to the homestead and sent back to everyday life.  Roll on our next excursion.


Yours, in the mood for Summer,



Picture by Meg Robinson



Pictures by Gareth Lister



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© Robert King