In our quest to find historical and cultural links between Scotland and Spain, we came upon the town of Loja, tucked away in the hills of Granada.  It is another little gem, and local resident, Paul Bateson, who lives in the village and is coordinator for the forthcoming challenge in 2016, Paul believes he is a descendant of one of the sailors from the ill fated Spanish Armada which eventually ran aground off Scotland, and also has Scottish ancestors.  He is then himself a link between the two countries!

Paul has provided us with a very nice outline of Loja… enjoy…

Loja’s karstic landscape
Loja in the evening

“Loja, known as the City of Water, sits at the western extreme of the Granada Province in an area known as the Poniente Granadino, the last frontier of al-Andalus and the key to the final conquest by the Catholic Monarchs. It has been populated since prehistoric times, Roman’s settled here with evidence in the ground floor of Loja’s Imperial Cinema then Islamic Loja in 893 saw the construction of the city fortress, Medina Lawsa (guardian city) then in 1226 the fortress was devastated by Fernando III and then re built. The city was again captured by the Catholic Monarchs in 1486 and renamed Loxa.

Today there are many surviving monuments including the Alcazaba District, the only remaining walled district of the Medina Lawsa muslim area which includes the defensive tower view point, the Main tower of caliphal origin, the arms courtyard and Nasrid cistern, now all part of a very interesting museum.

There are 42 fountains in the historic centre of Loja including the Fuente de la Mora 25 spout fountain and over 100 in total, hence the City of Water name.

Loja also appears in the Marx Brothers film, ‘Duck Soup’, made in 1933 and again in ‘The Pride and the Passion’ in 1957 which starred Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren when it was made to appear to be Santander.

Loja is very famous for its Holy Week processions, the Volaera Flamenca flamenco singing competition and the international paragliding week held each September and this plus its numerous walking and running trails, the Hatcho mountain, Charco Negro, Al Andalus Ultimate Trail, Ultimafrontera trail and numerous smaller events all make for Loja being one of the best areas to base yourself for a good active holiday or just to enjoy the area, tour and relax.

Next May, 19th to 26th  2016 will include the Loja 2 Alhama de Granada Challenge, a 33km/20mile walk through the Sierra Loja mountains on 23rd May 2016 and it is hoped that the many Spanish walking clubs will support this event but even more that walkers and their families will travel from overseas to spend a week of walking which will take them on trips out to Sierra Nevada, Sierra Almijara, Antequera/Torcal and the famous Kings path in El Chorro.”