Gypsy caves of Sacromonte

In the hills by the Spanish city of Granada people inhabit caves that had been carved out centuries ago. Flamenco dancers have performed in these caves for years and belong to a vibrant community on the outskirts of this Moorish city.

Granada History

A city entrenched in history and occupied, Granada has been home to many communities from around the globe. The name Granada originates from ‘pomegranate’, of which grows throughout the city, and appears on the city’s coat of arms. Another view is that Granada comes from its Moorish name Gharnatah.

It was a Moorish Kingdom in Spain but was overtaken by the Catholic Monarchy.

Moorish: relating to the group of  Muslim people from North Africa who ruled Spain from 711 to 1492.

Who were the original people of Sacromonte’s cave-homes?

Roma Gypsy communities made their homes in the caves of Sacromonte. By the 16th century families occupied their caves homes with livestock they depended on to make a living.

The gypsies weren’t the first people to live in the caves. Initially, the Arabs carved out the caves in the side of the rocks and the gypsies moved into them when people were forced out of the city during the catholic conquest – offering protection from racist and religious persecution. Communities still live in these caves to this day, sitting in the hillside with a view to die for.

There are lots of different opinions on who first dug out and inhabited the caves. Some say it was the Muslims and Jews who were forced out of the city of Granada during the catholic invasion of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Alternatively, many people believe that the Arabian population created them before everyone else.

Granadian gypsies ended up inhabiting the caves.

What was life like for the cave-dwellers?

The caves varied in size, some had one room for cooking and living and another for sleeping. Bigger caves had caves for their animals and lots of different rooms for different

The caves now

People still make these caves their homes to this day. What looks like small un-kept paths and dead ends are winding paths leading up the hillside in between cacti plants and cave-homes. Unassuming doors or bits of material hanging up are entrances to peoples homes.


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