History of Pinos del Valle (El Pinar)

The municipality of El Pinar was formed in 1976 and extends on both sides of the Lecrin Valley (Valle de Lecrin).  It is made up of three nuclei:  Pinos del Valle, Izbor and Tablate.  The village sits approximately 45km from the historic city of Granada and borders the municipalities of Los Guajares, Velez de Benaudalla, El Valle, Lecrin and the Alpujarra.  With average annual temperatures of between 12 – 18°C, rainfall of 500-600mm and only 10-20 days a year with temperatures of less than 0°C it’s the perfect environment for growing citrus fruits, olives and almonds.  A little further south from El Pinar in Los Guajares the year round climate is even warmer and subtropical fruits such as avacados and custard apples are also grown throughout the year.

The history of Pinos del Valle is linked with the Lecrin Valley and although prehistoric discoveries have been made there have been insufficient links to the village.  However, the remains of a Roman settlement exists on the outskirts of the village in the hamlet of Zazas (on the old road linking Granada to Motril) where the remains of a Roman aqueduct can be seen.  During the Muslim era the economic development of the area improved with new crops being introduced and the construction of a large irrigation network – remains of which can still be seen today.

In the 15th Century the Muslim population increased with those fleeing the Christian occupation of Castilla and other territories.  Some researchers state that Alauxa or Lauchar was the original name of this village at that time.

During the reconquest of Granada by the Catholic Royals all of the valley, including Pinos, was subject to the destruction of crops and capture of its inhabitants.  Troops surrounding Granada made several invasions into the valley, with April 1491 being the bloodiest and most destructive.  After the fall of Granada the customs and religion of the Moors was respected and accepted and they lived peacefully until the arrival of Cardinal Cisneros who brought with him his brutal oppression. This led to Felipe II banning the muslim religion, customs, language and dress – ultimately resulting in the revolt led by Fernando de Valor (Aben-Humeya) in 1568.  The Moors of Pinos del Valle assisted with the revolt of the Sierra and helped to hinder progress towards the Alpujarra.  Finally, the population of the Moors was left reduced which brought with it the decline of agricultura, the decrease of trees and with that the breeding of silkworms, which had been flourishing, ended up disappearing.

The era of decline had begun with the flight of the Moors, and the repopulation of the area by Christians arriving mainly from Jaen, Cordoba, Galicia and Meseta North, meant the agriculture was now based around small orchards and the growth of cereals such as wheat and barley, watered by rain and irrigation.  Gradually this changed to the cultivation of grapevines and increased its production of wine, supplying Granada and the surrounding areas.

However, during the 19th Century, Phylloxera destroyed virtually all the vineyards.  A Lecrin Valley historian, Madoz, described Pinos del Ray (Pinos’ old name) as “a place with a fertile plain which is a delicious garden”.  It’s produce was rich and varied with wine and olive oil being the most abundant, but also with wheat, barley, maize, beans and other legumes, fruits of all kind and the hunting of game.  Madoz also speaks of a small industry in its center with 500 – 600 animals including donkeys and mules, 3 flour mills, a stone quarry, several hard & soft soap factories, brandy production and 6 olive oil mills.

The citrus cultivation we know today began in the 20th Century after the disaster of Phylloxera.  Cultivation started in Beznar and then extended throughout the valley, including Pinos del Valle.  The planting of orange and lemon trees was mixed with olive to gave the best care to the citrus fruit and the height of the olive trees also protected the fruit.

The village of Pinos del Valle sits in the shadow of Mount Chinchirina, atop which you find the Ermita del Santo Cristo del Zapato (the Hermitage).  Dating from the early 19th Centruy it is considered to be one of the most interesting examples of neoclassical architecture in the province of Granada and is home to the painting of Cristo del Zapato.  It is said that the painting was found by a shepherd at the top of Mount Chinchirina and was taken down to the church of San Sebastian in barrio Alto.  However the following day the painting appeared at the top of  the mount – the painting was brought down 3 times but each time it reappeared back at the top of the mount.  This was interpreted by the locals that the saint wanted a shrine to be built at the top of the mount. The painting is full of legends and there is also another which says a lake sits inside the mount and feeds down to the village.  Many villagers and devotees climb the steep slops up to the Ermita to give thanks or to ask for wishes to be granted and light candles for Cristo del Zapato.  It is said that miracles have happened.

In the lower barrio of Pinos you can find the church of La Concepcion, built in the late 16th Century and declared of cultural interest, it is an outstanding example of Mudejar temples built during the 16th century in the kingdom of Granada.  It retains some polychrome carvings from the school of Mena and Martinez Montañes and is located in an enclave of great value, as this is the oldest part of the village an retains a Moorish air.

For the best view of lake Beznar and surrounding area one needs to visit the barrio of Las Eras (Las Eras translates to “where cereals are threshed and winnowed for grain”).